Last week I opened the mailbox to the usual bills, but then spotted something addressed to Noah. Noah, being the nosy little human he is, asked what it was. In reply, I just handed the envelope over to him.
“That’s my name!”
Noah was quite excited because he doesn’t often get personal mail. And he opened the envelope and pulled out a letter and three blank Christmas cards.
“Why did they send me these? And what does the letter say? Who is this all from, mama?”
I chose to answer Noah’s three question in the reverse order that he’d asked them, “Well, there’s a group of people called ‘Stichting Tegen Kanker’ which is the Cancer Foundation in English. They sent the letter asking if we could donate some money to help people who are sick with cancer. And they sent us the Christmas cards to use if we want, whether or not we donate any money. Isn’t that nice?”
Noah asked, “What does ‘donate’ mean?”
“Remember when Farah was sick and how we asked our friends and family to help us collect money so we could buy all those animal blankets to send to the sick children at the hospital? Well, that’s donating. It’s giving something up to help someone else, and not asking for anything back,” I replied.
“_________ told me that donating money is a waste of money,” said Noah.
“Well, maybe __________ doesn’t realize it doesn’t have to be a waste of money,” I replied.
“But ___________ said nobody has money to just give away except really rich people. Do we, mama?”
One, Two, Three, Four, Five
“Well. Guess what. If you give up after-school treats at the bakery or candy shop after school for a week, and just eat what we already have at home, then mama can save at least €5. And we can donate that money to the Cancer Foundation! If you want. Only if you want,” I said. I held my breath. I watched Noah look over at the calendar on the wall.
Then he walked over to the calendar, and with his little index finger he counted – one, two, three, four, five. The five days of school this week he counted. “So, just this one week. And we can send €5 for the sick people with cancer. And next week I can have candy and treats again from the store after school?”
I replied, “Yes, I promise. So? What do you think?”
“Okay mama, let’s do it.”
The Cancer Foundation in Belgium probably isn’t more special or that much more different than the one that you may be familiar with wherever you live. Obviously, as adults we know that donations of these kind go to a variety of channels including research too. And this world needs a cure. We lose too many loved ones to cancer every day.
For those of you who have been with me long enough, and who were able to donate towards the “Farah’s World Wishlist” two years ago, you know that the precious gifts were sent to the Children’s Cancer Ward at The University Hospital of Ghent in Farah’s name. Farah was and is still one of Noah’s closest friends and schoolmates, and this year they are classmates again. So far she’s had a clean bill of health, and we are all hoping and believing she’ll go from partial remission to complete remission when the time comes.
Money isn’t the answer to everything. In fact, sometimes money seems to make things worse. I’m coming off a day today in which I was critiqued harshly by perfect strangers, for how I spend my money. Adults and money don’t mix very well. But in this case, the three questions Noah asked me turned out to be a teaching moment.
I’m still not sure why the mail came in Noah’s name and not mine. But it led to a meaningful conversations and decision. And furthermore, Noah’s learned that it takes just a little bit a of sacrifice to give unconditionally.
That’s pretty invaluable in life.
I have included a “Donate” button below, should anyone like to add another €5 to our pot. If you can. Only if you can.
I shall wait until the end of the month, one week, before sending a final donation. And of course report it to Noah, and back to all of you too.
UPDATE : Sunday, October 28, 2017: The donation period is closed.
Noah and I are so very happy and proud to report that we have donated a total pot of €135!
Thank you so much to everyone who joined us. I have included your first names below, for the sake of confidentiality.
What an amazing lesson Noah has learned towards a good cause.
You guys rock!