A Parent’s Perspective
Michael Graves — Toronto, ON
An interesting aspect of a Sleeping Children distribution is the perspective of the parents. First and foremost and without exception they were overwhelmed with gratitude for this contribution to their child’s and family’s welfare.
Due to the distances to be travelled some parents stayed home. Transportation is costly and some children travelled more than one hundred kilometers with four- to five-hour journeys. In this case, parents waved goodbye to their children as they boarded the bus and greeted them again in the late hours of the evening. Most had never been without their children for even a day, and the widespread anxiety this inspired was only offset by the knowledge that the children would be well-handled by the Bangladesh volunteers. How happy they must have been when the bus arrived back at the village and their sleepy smiling children dismounted.
Local parents were able to attend the distributions. Seeing these parents added to the excitement and joy of the event for us. This was obvious from the moment we arrived.
Practically the whole village surrounded the area because SCAW volunteers are a unique sight. Parents didn’t have access to their children while they were having their photo taken and receiving their bedkit. This avoided unauthorized entry by people trying to force their children into the count who didn’t have the good fortune of being selected to receive a bedkit. Parents were, of course, worried about their children, concerned that they might get lost, be overwhelmed by the event, or miss their mother.
As a result it was common to see the parents looking over fences or, in many cases, sitting on the fence or anything that would give them a good view of the proceedings.
When the gate finally opened and their children emerged with a bedkit delicately balanced on their heads there were smiles all around as the children related their experiences. Then all went home to open the bedkit and set up the ground sheet and mosquito net for a real good night’s sleep wrapped in a sheet or blanket with their heads on a pillow.
Children are the highlight of every distribution but the parents are a close second.