Taking my six-year-old daughter to visiting hour in an Asian prison was not in the plans when we left Australia on our backpacking adventure, but it was just Emmie and me on the road together, so she had to come too.
We’d been travelling for 10 months when I read about an Australian mum serving a long prison sentence in the city we were in. I felt compelled to visit, to reach out with some kindness and contact from home. A small gesture that I hoped would make a sliver of a difference to her day.
I was well aware that this might not be my best parenting decision, and I sure didn’t broadcast it. It was also a huge leap out of my comfort zone, but we were stretching ourselves every day through travel, and this was another challenge for us to rise to. I wanted to help.
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And rather than the usual lessons in culture, geography and religion that Emmie was learning while we travelled, this would be about consequences and hardship, kindness, generosity and not judging others.
But first I had to check with Emmie to see if she was okay with it.
“Emmie, there’s a mum from Australia in a prison here. She is all by herself and doesn’t have any friends or family to help her. Do you think we could go and see her? We would have to go into the jail though, is that okay?”
“Sure,” she said. “What did she do?”