My Sponsor Child turns Ten today



This is Jannatun, my tiny sponsor child in Bangladesh. Today is her tenth birthday. I’ve been sponsoring her since March of 2011, after reading a particularly sad story about young girls in developing nations. This picture of her, and the other photos I have, always make me sad. She has such a look in her eyes, which might just be because she’s not used to being photographed. It also makes me sad because she is just one of millions, nay, billions of sad little children in the world.

One of my cousin’s has a little girl who is almost the same age as Jannatun, almost to the day. She’s so full of life, she’s always jumping up and down with excitement about everything. I hope that at least sometimes Jannatun feels that way. At least I know that she’s going to school and is being looked after.

I have no idea how long a child sponsorship lasts, presumably until she’s eighteen. I can easily afford to support her for another eight years. Although I do worry that one day I’ll get a message saying she’s moved to a big city to work in a garment factory, or has been married off at to young an age. Or worse still, this being Bangladesh, that her whole village has been washed away…

I’ll show pictures of her to Pip when he’s a bit older. Just to remind the both of us that we live in paradise.

The Newtown Primary School Shootings

So… this isn’t how I planned to start my daddy blog. I haven’t even had time to set up the layout or customise it in any way. But the events of the past few weeks compel me to write something.

I live a mighty long way from Newtown, Connecticut, in fact I’m half a world away in a different country on a different continent. But news travelling the way it does – I get most of my braking news from Twitter – I couldn’t help but be affected by the shootings in the primary school there.

The first things I said to my partner about it were “Oh no there’s been another mass shooting in the United States” and then moments later “Oh fuck, it was at a primary school!”.

Something about impending fatherhood has made me more sensitive than I might otherwise have been about events like this. Unfortunately, like many people at some remove from the events in the US, they’ve come to have a sickening inevitability about them, a feeling of “oh no, not again” and “I wonder if this time they’ll actually makes some changes”.

This shooting was sickening for a lot of unusual reasons. That the shooter was able to use the weapons from his mother’s collection. That he felt the need, after killing his mother for whatever reason, to go and kill a great many more women and girls.

A typical homicide involves someone being killed by someone they know, and may have once loved. This is what this started out as. If there had not been an arsenal of weapons involved, that might have been where it ended.

I’ve had absolutely no experience with guns. I once held a small calibre rifle (I think, I don’t now recall much about it) that my aunt and uncle had on their farm. But I’ve never fired a gun, and the only ones I see are on the belts of police officers. And this has a been a conscious decision in our nation from generations of law makers – no one needs to have access to lethal weapons unless they have a really, really good reason.

One great source of information about firearms is one of my favourite television shows, Mythbusters. It seems sometimes that at least a quarter of the myths they test are firearms related. Shooting guns at water, shooting particularly large weapons at trees, testing the accuracy of different ways to fire a gun. Basically everything you could possibly do with a gun. And this is presented as if it’s a normal part of life, which, it seems it is the USA.

Parents try their hardest to make a safe place for their children – a safe home, a safe neighbourhood. But what are you to do when in some ways an entire country is not a safe place…