When I got off the airplane in Dhaka, I cried. The poverty was absolutely devastating. I still remember the children that greeted us there with their empty, pleading eyes and paper donation cups. Their dusty knees, bony elbows, and visible ribs were clear markers of the hunger and helplessness of their plight. I had visited parts of Mexico prior to that trip, but this…this was something entirely different. This was the kind of destitution that led to death.
There are a lot of things I could write about that experience. I was young and I don’t think I even came close to grasping the complexities of the country’s distress. Even so, that summer changed me. In insurmountable ways.
As I reflect on what I want for my kids, I think about how I want them to have opportunities to travel someday, to see the world…and not only in coffee table picture books.
Once you see a child with barefeet and a battered soul, you can’t forget it. It stays with you, haunts you…toward change. It reminds you how much you have and what really matters.
I want my kids to see sorrow with their own eyes, to serve with their own hands – so that they will be motivated to make the most of their resources and their lives.
Conversely, I also want my children to visit the rich, the cultured, the educated, and the industrial countries.
Travel, as a whole, stimulates the mind, strengthens the spirit, and engages the heart. As such, I’m hoping that someday my kids have an opportunity travel the world, far and wide…preferably with me. [I just had a mini heart attack, thinking about my kids going to Sri Lanka or Singapore without me…].
YOUR TURN: Where have you traveled – with or without your kids? What have your travels taught you?