Vanuatu, little island Atchin. Few people there have solar panels, and those panels make it possible to load… a mobile phone. This is the only connection with other parts of the country or the world. People, who have never seen a TV – have never seen more than what is surrounding them: little islands, bush, boats and not paved roads.
– How to you get to work? – they asked us. – By bike, or by metro – And what is metro? – Such a train… – And what is a train? – Yyyy. How to describe the train to someone, who have seen only few cars and only sandy roads in his life?
Or a bath tube! – I dream about taking a bath in a warm bath tube! – I said once. – And what is bath tube? – Is it so sunny in your house that the water gets warm??
And just imagine Tom talking with the guys on the islands: – So what do you do in life? – they asked him. – Internet websites. – What?!? – Websites, in the internet. – What? In what? … Tia…
When it was raining the second day in the row, Hanna asked if they can watch „Peppa Pig“ on our tablet. This question doesn’t come often, so of course we agreed. Our tablet was a present from Lenovo in Germany, we took it with us as a second option (when Tom is editing pictures on his laptop in the evening, I could write a draft of the post on the tablet). At the end we almost didn’t use it – moving the files from tablet, to the laptop, to put them online took ages. Anyways, „Peppa Pig“ could been watched! And the battery is really strong. So our girls, together with a little crowd of the local kids, spend some time watching English cartoons. About the queen, about the bath tube, about the train. Little dark eyes were getting bigger and bigger.
I have already told you how it is in Vanuatu with the gifts. From the morning until the evening, each of the neighbours were coming with oranges, nuts, mats, clothes, bags, and different kinds of gifts. Our girls were changing their clothes with little Ni-Vanuatu girls, giving away their tiny toys, hair brushes and gifts, they got in Fiji. They are like we are: things matter less than actions.
And on the very last day at the Atchin island, while packing, Hanna asked THE question: – So what we gonna give them as a goodbye present? // Shiiiit, we don’t have any unnecessary gram in the backpack: tent, shoes, medicines, camera? Nothing to be left. – And what do you think makes our new friends the most happy, Hanna? – „Peppa Pig“ of course! – she was more than sure.
Hmmmm. Big big hmmm happened afterwards. Not that it’s a problem for us to get rid of a tablet. It’s useful but we can live without it. And we can easily get one after coming back home, if needed. But… does it make any sense? Tom was against: doesn’t help, doesn’t change anything. – But they like watching cartoons, like all the kids – Hanna said. – I also like „Peppa Pig“! – Mila was a bit sad.
We gave them the tablet. We gave it to the kindergarten, we spend the most time in, to the ladies, who are in close touch with the school teacher. The school teacher has solar panels and energy for activism. We talked with some American foundation on another island, to come to Atchin with more educational videos, to give them more content in the future. We recorded the songs, we were singing before together, that they can have the memory.
If you would only see their faces. How big thing it was for them.
And for me that was important: that they see that we can also share our things. And that our girls had a lesson: that giving things is maybe not always easy, especially things you really like, but it can bring so much happiness.
I don’t know how much they will use it. If there will be a small boy or a small girl, the curious one, who will one day sit and think: hmmm, how does this thing work? maybe I would like to learn more about it? maybe I will learn to read to be able to read more about it?
I don’t know if it will not disturb. If it is our task to show more, show the things, which don’t belong there. I don’t know if we have done the right thing.
But it felt right.
What do you think? Stupid white people with empty actions or a needed for the situation and bringing up your own kids – action? I’m still not sure.
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »
Pytania na które nikt nie zna odpowiedzi :) Cokolwiek zrobimy ma na coś wpływ, a czy pozytywny czy negatywny pewności nie mamy, przyszłość pokaże :)
Pierwsza myśl : o nie! Ale po chwili pomyślałam, że to jest nasze “zachodnie” myślenie, że chcemy żeby pozostały takie dziewicze miejsca na świecie, nie dotknięte techniką, a ludzie tam mają przecież do tego prawo. Prawo do świnki Peppy ;) Chcę wierzyć, że pomoże im to w edukacji. Tylko fajnie jakby był tam ktoś kto mógłby ich nauczyć mądrego korzystania z tego urządzenia.
Very tuff one.
Things in my mind right now, so without thinking:
1. ‘If there will be a small boy or a small girl, the curious one, who will one day sit and think’… well: I get the idea, but I do think technologies are not a thing like robust materials. They get old in two years, and then it’s yet another situation: in the west there are new, better things, but in poor areas our old stuff is good enough? Tuff, hein?
2. And that our girls had a lesson: that giving things is maybe not always easy, especially things you really like, but it can bring so much happiness.
– I really think I can see what you mean, and that, of course, isn’t bad. But I cannot help but being critical. Why exactly do you think it is useful to learn to give away things you really like, and maybe rather do not want to miss? Please don’t get me wrong. If your girls could see the whole picture (they can use it better than I can, we can anyhow buy a new one, we have so much other things…) well, that’s indeed a good lesson. But what if they really felt sad about it? I do NOT want to suggest kids cannot live without a tablet or cartoons, on the contrary. But this is for me more about: how does a human (little importance whether it’s a child or an adult) have to react to differences in welfare? I for myself have to think to the situation in my city, where we have a lot of beggars. I always feel very very confused when meeting them, and actually giving ‘something’ doens’t change this feeling. I still have everything, and they still nothing. It also reminds me to the encounter with a gypsy father and his young baby when I just had fallen pregnant. I was very very shocked about this situation, exactly because of the kids. It was so difficult: the kids were in trouble, just as their parents, but their parents were using them in a very shocking and agressive manner. I was so confused and refused to give money out of a shock, because this is not how I want to treat people, like they never will be ‘my level’. The father insisted, showed me the baby again, but in a very agressive manner. This happening did me remind to something I once learnt: people also can be too overwhelming, in love, in demands, in questions. I do believe it’s so superimportant to learn our children that, sadly enough, also these people and situations exist. That not everybody is respecting us, that is important to know this and to be able to defend ourselves.
Now how is this all linked to the island story? You probably will think: my god, is she suggesting these nice, loving people did do this? No!!! On the contrary!
But… I am wondering: should we learn our children to become superchristians giving away everything without giving attention to their own needs (in the first place emotional, not material!!), or should we learn them the ‘adult’ totale picture: I will give this away, since I like these people, since I want to leave something from myself, since they are friends.
Now that was a whole lot about one sentence, and having written this down, I do realize myself that probably Mila and Hanna did get the whole picture, since you ususally do…
Much to do about nothing thus, sorry :)
You should work on your english.
It hurts to read this blog ;P
As to the ‘gift of tablet tablet’ I think it’s a good idea as long as the kindergarten has Internet connection, electricity and some smart teachers that will make the most of that tablet.
Your girls can always get another one and those island kids might not get another chance to use a tablet for a while.
Thank you for sharing your Life stories from the heart!
Keep strong, even if some negative review come, keep on traveling and doing what you have to do **–**
I cringed when I read about them showering you with gifts. I was so relieved that you gave them something they liked in return, and positively impressed that it was the tablet that they loved so much (I’m very attached to mine unfortunately).
I believe it was the healthiest thing to do, I mean, the gift that most positively could impact them on an emotional etc level. They could see the proof that you see them as equals, and that you value them more than your material things.
Even if they never learn how to use it, it’s still the perfect gift; it’s the hidden meaning behind the gesture that counted.
(And you answered it yourself – “But it felt right.” So it’s clear that it was the right choice, at that time and place)