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War, Work and Parenthood

© 1999, by Lisa M. Roberts

It's hard to focus on business when our country is at war. Every task I work on seems trivial. Every business solution becomes anti-climatic problem-solving. Every new brainstorm seems like misdirected thought and energy.
It's hard to listen to my kids in heated discussion over which candy -- jelly beans or marshmallow rabbits -- is the greater prize in their Easter baskets, when visions of refugees -- from infants to the elderly -- have been crossing over the television screen and front page news stories for two weeks now. My husband's eczema and my periodic sinus troubles are thrown into the pile of trivia along with upcoming parent-teacher conferences and end-of-year school projects. In short, during this time of international unrest, parenting my well-provided for children seems more of a blessing yet more of an indulgence as well.
Without question, our family's aches and pains and worries are like mosquito bites in a cancer ward in respect to world news. How do we go about the business of our blatantly sheltered day when the business of the day for thousands of refugees is scrambling for food, shelter and a shred of hope?
My mother, who visited Yugoslavia with my father three times in the past, helped me bring the Kosovo people and their experience to light. I asked her to share her thoughts and experience with us for this issue. She wrote:
"In 1989 we made our first trip to Yugoslavia to visit Medjugorje, a place we felt was holy ground, to give thanks for our eldest daughter's recovery from a serious illness. During our visit we stayed with a family from that village. You could see how close and devoted they were to each other. They had so much less than what we in America are use to, but were content with what they had. They worked so much harder than we do for their daily existence, but worked without complaint. We went to visit a nearby town called Mostar while we were there. Everyone there was kind and warm also. It made our heart break to know that war had broken out and destroyed Mostar after we had left during the Bosnia war. Now to think of all the refugees in Kosovo that have been forced out of their homes and country makes me very sad. How do you leave everything that you own and love and still go on? I know how difficult it was for my parents, who migrated from Italy to America, to do this, but at least it was their choice. God give the people of Kosovo the strength they need."
For my part, I believe it helps to get involved, in whatever remote way possible, considering that we are so far away in time, distance and experience. When I found a listing in the newspaper of organizations taking donations for the refugees, my family came to prompt attention, and everyone with their own bank account was willing and eager to contribute in some way. Granted, what we can give is a drop in the bucket, but that bucket is deep and every drop counts.
Wherever you are living and whatever you may think about the decisions our leaders are making as each day of this crisis unfolds, you may be interested in helping the incomprehensible number of displaced Balkan families. Here are a few international organizations standing by for your call:
CARE, 800-521-CARE
Catholic Relief Services, 800-736-3467
Christian Children's Fund, 800-776-6767
Doctors of the World, 888-817-4357
Doctors Without Borders, 888-392-0392
International Medical Corps, 800-481-4462
International Rescue Committee, 877-REFUGEE
Lutheran World Relief, 800-597-5972
MAP International, 800-225-8550
Mercy Corps International, Kosovo Relief, 800-852-2100
World Vision, 888-511-6423
May peace be within each of you individually, and our respective countries at large, very soon.

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, owner of The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business (Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for purchase at EP and through Amazon.

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