During my time in Zambia, my understanding of children and what they are capable of fundamentally changed. Not only did the children of rural Zambia awe me with their love of life, constant smiles, and zeal for enjoying every moment – they also showed me how many of the narratives about western children and their abilities are grossly misplaced. The children I met and observed were responsible. They were capable. They worked well together and looked after each other. It made it clear to me that the way we coddle children in the US, Europe, and other parts of the industrialized world has come with a cost. On the one hand it means those children get to enjoy their childhood in a carefree fashion which is wonderful and something I wish more of the Zambian kids got to enjoy. But, at the same time, when you have parents struggling to get kids to eat their food, cutting it up into small pieces for them at the age of 11, or still tying their shoes as children approach their teens…I think we do a disservice to our children by treating them like bumbling idiots and allowing them to get away with awe inspiring immaturity well into adolescence.
This photo captures a group of kids biking to the local water well to re-fill the family’s supply of water. They’d likely do this several times a day depending on the size of the family.
Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album from my visit.