How-to Dad: That's crap, New Zealand, let's help feed our kids

Sunday, February 24, 2019

OPINION: You know when you were a kid and when you didn't finish all your breakfast, and your Mum would say something like: "You know some kids in Africa don't have any breakfast".    

Well, Mum, it's 2019, the new saying is: "You know some kids in New Zealand don't have any breakfast".

What!? Really?

Yes, really. This isn't breaking news. It has been a cold hard fact for a wee while now. One in five kids in New Zealand is living in poverty, living in households that experience moderate to severe food insecurity.

Boiled down to simpler terms, heaps of Kiwi kids are going to school without brekkie in their bellies or soggy sandwiches in their lunchboxes. Really?

These same kids are also missing out on shoes for winter and warm clothes. Bare feet are sweet as in summer, not so fun in winter.

Food, shoes and warm clothes.

The basics that so many of us take for granted. Too busy worrying if our precious one will like the new banana flavoured yoghurt over the chocolate one, or not even batting an eye-lid when the lunchbox comes home half finished?

Kids in Africa would love those leftovers. Kids in our own backyard would too.

Attention ye olde society makers. Why did you design a way of living that looks inwards and not out? For some reason, we as a society have a strict, unspoken, way of living.

YE SOCIETY RULES AS YE FOLLOWS: Be a baby, grow up, get good grades, work hard, save money, buy nice things when you can, nice things for yourself, buy a house, with a fence so you can't see the neighbours, keep making money, keep your head down, buy more nice things, don't look up, have kids, head down. Teach your kids the same.

Whatever happened to looking out for your neighbours? Was that ever a thing?

Yes, the above is a very bloody loose and broad paintbrush, but it's a painting a lot of us see hung on the walls of high mortgage Kiwi homes. Your own wall maybe?

Bugger talking to our neighbours or checking in on how they're doing. It's better to mumble under our breath about "Lisa and her kid with no shoes".

I know, instead of talking to them we might make ourselves feel better by donating to a charity. "Yes, that's it!"

"Um, right. A charity … The price of a coffee each week, yeah it's so hard to choose which one, um. Yeah, Nah um … Ooooh, look! Briscoes has a sale!"

So you keep your head down. This poverty thing's not happening in your house so why should you worry. You just keep on saving – bugger the rest.

Instead of 'WELCOME' doormats should we all own 'BUGGER THE REST' ones instead?

Pointing our finger at Governments is lazy – yes more can and should always be done to help kids in need. But until more is, it's up to us.

"Those parents shouldn't be spending all their money on ciggies and alcohol".

I heard you mutter this under your breath at the start of this column.

"Their fault, their problem". Now you're being lazy.

Yeah, in some cases that 'ciggie' statement is true – a crap fact.

In other cases, it's the complete opposite. A parent or working parents earn an income, but every cent is spread so thin that the basics start to become luxuries.

No matter the circumstance of why a kid is going without these basics – it is never ever the child's fault. Agreed?

We can't keep looking down at the floor and muttering to ourselves. That terribly crap statistic isn't going away. These kids need our help, a nudge in the right direction, so at school, they're not thinking: "Bugger me I'm starving", "Bugger me my feet are freezing".

Instead, they'll have full bellies, be warm, and ready to listen to all that boring stuff about maths and English. We'll be helping lay the foundation to a good Kiwi education, so they have the chance of breaking the cycle.

One in five Kiwi kids are going to school with no food.

Since becoming a Dad, this stuff really pulls at my heartstrings – even harder than that scene from Titanic. I've decided to throw my weight behind KidsCan by becoming an official ambassador and help shine a light on this crappy situation. This is our backyard.

Be a good bugger and go check out www.KidsCan.org.nz – have a read, learn more, and hopefully, you'll decide to donate too – because right now, to these kids, every dollar makes one helluva difference.  

Thank you.