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Acts of Kindness

I want to share something real – a passion project happens when you feel so emotionally bound by something, you have to make it happen. The problem is that the deeper you delve into the project, you can actually start to become numb to information and the heart drive becomes lost, replaced by a systematic pursuit.

I’m purposely conscious of this and, although the brain can only cope with so much, it is important to me that we remain emotionally connected to why we started Stop the Bus. Often this means letting go of brain clutter and going back to the heart of it.

When we hear about child abuse cases through the media, it is easy to convince ourselves that they are isolated occurrences. Something that happened to someone way over there. We get up and go to work every day and live out our normal lives (which is fine) but meanwhile, there are thousands of children here in New Zealand who live in fear and suffer silently, most of whom will never reach your newsfeeds. We spent a year researching prior to beginning this journey, so we know abuse is prevalent, but nothing could have prepared us for the number of people we meet along on our journey, as well as people we have known a long time (unexpectedly and outside scheduled interviews) who have confided to us that they, or family, have experienced abuse as a child and suffer the ongoing effects of that.

Despite knowing, hearing and being reminded of this on a constant basis I often find that my brain tries to make sense of it by unrightfully attempting to justify occurrences or even trying to trick myself into thinking that maybe we got this wrong- maybe it isn’t so bad after all and this pursuit of ours is fruitless. I think for this very reason, many cases go unreported, many children do not get the help and often reports only happen many years later (if ever).

Yesterday I had a hair appointment and one of the hairdressers asked me where I was from. I answered that we are living in a bus for a year which of course led to a discussion about Stop the Bus. After many questions, the hairdresser then confided in me their own experiences of abuse as a child. We come across these conversations all the time – and the experiences and ongoing effects are often very similar. People tell us this stuff because it’s relevant to what we are doing BUT, they often have not told their closest friends and even family members may be unaware of the extent of it. There can be an element of shame (an unjustified burden), and many other complicated feelings that a child may carry with them into adult life which will affect relationships and many other aspects of ‘living’.

This leads me to 3 points:
Firstly, there are people right in front of you who have experienced abuse – you don’t even know it. Be Kind.
Secondly, if every adult we have talked to was a child – that is a lot of children we are meeting by chance who have suffered abuse. This is actually a reality for thousands of children in New Zealand right now. There are children right in front of you who are going through stuff and they need the kindness of other grown-ups around them to pull them through.
Thirdly, if it’s hard for an adult to speak out, well, imagine what it’s like for a child – again, they need adults to speak up for them.

A bit of a spiel I know but my point – we need to open our eyes. Remember
**Small acts of kindness can be as powerful as big systems**
Even a smile can be massive. Every story we have heard have spoken about people who showed them kindness during those times and the impact was massive.
Let’s work hard at opening up those support networks within our communities – it matters.

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