"Can I please have my birthday at Pizza Hut", he began, staring at me with a plaintive look in his eyes.
"Why don't we take a few of your really close friends out for an afternoon?", I asked.
"But it would be more fun to have a party at Pizza Hut", he argued.
"Wouldn't it be fun to spend an afternoon with your friends, and have lunch with them?", I asked, before adding. "We can even get you a Spiderman cake, if you wish."
That seemed to tilt the scales a little. "Okay", he said. "But why can't I have a party at Pizza Hut."
I debated for a second, before deciding this was as good a time as any other for a lesson in sharing. "Because, a big party at Pizza Hut is more expensive than an afternoon out with friends", I explained. "We can give all the money we save to some poor kid who needs it."
"But what will the kid do with the money?", he asked.
"Maybe his parents can use the money to send him to school. Then he will learn things, and when he grows up, he will have a good life."
"Will he really have a good life is he goes to school now", my son asked.
"Yes, of course", I replied. "Education is the key to everything. Now, the child is poor and doesn't have a good life. But after he gets an education, he will get a good job, and be able to earn money, and then he will have a good life."
He was silent for a few minutes. Then said, "Okay. I will have a smaller birthday party, and you can give the money to the kid's parents. But don't tell them I gave it, okay. Let it be a surprise."
I was so proud of my son, I nearly agreed to give him his party at Pizza Hut and also make a donation to an institution working to impart education, but contented myself by hugging him tight and telling him how proud I was of him.
Poverty is, perhaps, the biggest problem facing the world today- and Education is the most effective tool by which to fight poverty. Every child in a school, every adult literate- that should not have to be a distant dream. If every one of us is aware of the magnitude of the problem, and is willing to do our bit, we would be a little closer to the solution than we were yesterday.
Today, September 8, is International Literacy Day. Can you take a few minutes off to reflect on what literacy means to you, and if possible blog about it, to spread awareness. And if you can, could you also do your bit towards contributing to the education of a child? There are many organisations which allow you donate online. And even if you can't do either, do check out Burrowers, Books & Balderdash for some unbelievable statistics that Mari has put together on (the lack of) literacy.