18 May Sharing cannot be forced, it needs to be taught
Reem Sabri, Egypt, Mother to 5 year-old daughter Naya
“Kids learn through stories and pictures. I usually take my daughter to the Red Crescent booths and buy donation tickets, and each ticket has a picture on it. Depending on the kind of picture on the ticket, I tell her a different story every time. For example, if it’s about food, I explain to her how some people can’t afford to buy food or clean water to drink. Naya is full of questions on the meaning of donation, on why we give away clothes, and other things. So I explain to her that in Islam, one of the main principles is to help others and support them. With our donations, I tell her, we support them to go to school.
“I think it’s important that children understand they are lucky to have a mum and dad who can give them all these toys, a privilege that means you need to share them with others.
“This Ramadan, my daughter came home from school with a money bank, which was given to each child as a part of an initiative between her school and the Red Crescent. ‘What is this money bank for?’ she asked. I explained to her that we need to put money in it for the purpose of donating it to people who don’t have much money.
“The responsibility of raising children who are generous and compassionate starts at home and is supported at school, and is also a social responsibility for institutions who should also play a role to deliver the same message.” ”
Hanief Sallie, South African, Dubai, Father to 3 year-old daughter, Kiara
“This Ramadan, as a family, we plan to head down to workers’ camps and mosques during iftars and distribute meals. We believe it is a great opportunity to practically demonstrate to our three-year-old daughter the values of giving, sharing and compassion. My wife is a teacher, so the virtues of sharing and giving are taught to children on a daily basis, lessons which, as a mother, she brings to parenting as well.
“Kiara is very young, so we use her toys to explain to her the concepts of sharing.
“We believe that sharing is an attitude that cannot be forced upon an individual, so we prefer to explain to our daughter the importance of being generous and not because you are told to be so by your parents.
“We used to reward good actions such as sharing, but we have moved away from that and have adopted the explanation style more often. We don’t want her to think that sharing comes with rewards always; we would rather she understand the virtue for its own sake.
“I think it’s important to explain the concepts of giving and sharing to children as young as possible; in my own case, I was lucky to learn it in my childhood. My parents were role models and were givers of their money and time, and I grew up watching and learning these [values].”
Yasmina Bouzidi, Algerian, Abu Dhabi resident, Mother to 10 year-old daughter Anais and 5 year old son Yani, 5
“With my 10-year-old daughter Anais, it is easier to explain the concept of giving. She is proud to give her old clothes and toys to people who are less fortunate and I make sure to encourage her. She feels rewarded to see other little girls wearing her clothes and playing with her toys. At school, she also learns more about giving through charity projects where the children are involved in collecting and selling items for different causes.
“For my five-year-old it is a little more challenging to grasp the concept of sharing. For example, with his toys. I sit with him to sort through his toys that he doesn’t play with anymore and explain to him that they will be going to other children who don’t have toys. He then picks his old toys to give away but remembers he wants to play with them. So I have to remind him again of why we are giving them away.
“Then, we drive together to the Red Crescent boxes and make our donations. He by now understands why we are putting them into the box.
“I feel it is very important to give children this kind of education, not just for the purpose of introducing the concept of charity, but to also build their personality. They need to understand that what they have is a privilege, something that not everybody has.”