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CS Lewis Quotation

Why I chose to be a Kids Matter Facilitator

Andrea Zanin, Kids Matter facilitator/comms pro & mum of five, gets real about what it takes to make a difference…

When I was seventeen I thought I was going to be a lawyer – I was Deputy Head Girl at my primary school and moved on to do public speaking at high school, where I was a prefect, head of my house and had colours in volleyball. I loved all these things and thought that being a lawyer was a prestigious enough a career to preen my ego. But God had other plans.

As it turns out, studying law wasn’t that cool – I was good at some of it, average at most of it and, being neither a details person nor a great listener, I was bad at the rest. I also couldn’t quell a life-long passion for literature and so after I got my law degree I decided to ditch the couple of years that would enable me to practice law (thank goodness for the poor would-be person who might have had the unfortunate luck of hiring me and my very substandard lawyering skills) and instead do an Honours in English. I graduated with a cum laude result (keeping my ego suitably inflated). Nice. But what does one do with an English degree no matter how fabulous? Be an academic of course. Fine with me – I’d do a masters and get a job as a lecturer. But then I moved to London, with my husband and a couple of years of teaching under my belt, excited to explore the wider world. Much to its dismay (hardy har), Academia would have to wait.

What does any of this have to do with Kids Matter? – Lots, I promise. So…we moved to London and I got a job at a publishing company (because there was no way I was going to be a South African teacher in a school full of rabble-rousing English kids – I had been warned by all) and discovered that I love to write. Excellent – now, I’d just rock the London life and build a career in publishing. But God had other plans (an emerging theme in my life).

I had a baby. And then I had four more. Yes, that would be five ‘rabble-rousing’ English kids of my very own. Now this is where you insert a crying-with-laughter emoji face; that seventeen-year-old girl who had been lauded for her leadership skills and rated herself a wannabe lawyer – peeking in on her life today…

…she might be seen scrubbing Weetabix-turned-cement off the floor whilst shovelling some sort of mushed fruit concoction into a baby’s mouth as she explains what a verb is to a 6-year-old, who’s actually thinking about the cookie in her packed lunch and wondering how long it is until 12:15pm; at the same time, this now mum of an almost-rugby-team grabs for a nappy because the putrescent smell from the jaywalking 2-year-old’s rear is making it hard to concentrate on her verb explanation, which is happening in the midst of an all-out war between child one and child three over a probably-three-week-old Cheerio that has been prised from the floor by one and assaulted with delight the other, as our self-employed mum tries to think up a most epic sentence for the intro to her next pop-psychology/philosophy chapter because if she doesn’t start, like now, there’s no hope of it being finished in time to make it to print (all in a day’s work) – and then there’s the moment where she pauses to laugh because that’s the only way to stay sane when life feels this bonkers. (Was that just the longest sentence ever written? Yes? That’s because it was likely the longest minute ever written about.)

Life is humbling.

I love my children, my family – and I love my job; that I get to have my cake and eat a whole bunch of it, too, but how things have ended up is an example of God’s Upside Down Kingdom. All through my life, God has reminded me that His is a kingdom where the broken are crowned and the powerless rise – not only because He has capsized my own proud plans but because of the people and places he’s elbowed into my path. It’s humility that has brought me to Kids Matter. I strongly suspect that it’s mornings like the above that keep me grounded, and focused on the things that really matter – things other than myself and my bubble of wonderful crazy.

Life. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about my family.

I’m grateful that my husband and I feel equipped to do this whole parenting thing with a fair amount of confidence. We have the support of our family, friends and church, and are enveloped within the folds of a God who loves us. It makes me all warm and fuzzy thinking about it – right? Except we all know that life is not always ‘warm and fuzzy’; it gets up in our faces all the time…and here’s the thing; when life is hard, when parenting is at its toughest – I know I can do it because we have people around us to cheer me (us) on, and a hope in a bigger picture.

For some families – no, for too many families, ‘warm and fuzzy’ is the furthest thing from their reality. Reality is poverty and hunger, isolation, frustration, addiction, anger and sadness. There is no team shouting war cries from the side to uplift and encourage. There’s despair and anxiety – hopelessness.

It’s just not right.

Most of us know this.

But what will we do about it?

I want to help – I’ve been given so much, I want to give back; I want to make a difference. I believe without question, that strengthening families is the way to build communities and reassure society as a whole. God has opened the door of opportunity and nudged me toward Kids Matter in spite of my ‘I’ll do it later’ attitude…when the baby’s a bit older and when I’ve finished this or that work project and ‘giving back’ is more convenient. If I had it my way I’d live in a vortex of happy procrastination. As it turns out, God’s plan is not comfortable. God’s plan is now.

Families are in crisis now. Children and parents need support now. Not when it suits my schedule.

The truth is; helping others is never going to be convenient or easy – even if it is your passion. Helping others isn’t about me or you; it’s about being obedient to the mandate that God has given the church, to help the poor, the widows and fatherless, the orphans and those who are destitute. If God has told us – who am I to wait for a convenient moment?

And so I will attempt to go forward boldly in faith – and I expect to get it wrong, and be humbled along the way but I know that this is right; that Kids Matter is right, that God has got my back and that in Him is abounding hope.

Andrea Zanin is a freelance writer and also a member of the comms team for Kids Matter. She’s always up for a chat so do contact her ( if you’d like to know more about how Kids Matter is hoping going to change the world with its parenting programme.

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