“Ora na azu nwa” – It Takes a Village

It was eight o’clock at night, dinner dishes done and I was curled up on my comfy chair in my Victoria Secret pajamas, deeply lost in a book, when the doorbell rang.  We were not expecting company. We all looked at each other a bit curious before opening the door.  A box the size of a computer was sitting on the front step.  It was addressed to me.  I opened it casually and a polk-a-dot envelope laid on top of styrofoam popcorn.  I opened the envelope and found a card inside that read: 

Dear Deanne, 

 I meditate, I do yoga, I chant and I still want to smack someone.  I can’t get the beer to you but I can stock up your chocolate supply.   It all comes with as much love as I can get to you from afar. 

Love Clare

The box contained several containers of delicious Belgian chocolate and a box of tissue.

She had apparently read my last blog.

I miss Clare.  She and her family are currently living on a 75 foot, steel hulled, ex-racing boat called Ironbarque. Her son Drew has a website describing their life.  Here is the link:


Much to my luck, Clare was actually the first homeschooling family I met 9 years ago.  We have spent many hours together creating fantastic experiences for our kids including geography club, book groups, baking pottery in a homemade kiln on the beach, making sugar skulls to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, attempting to cook green eggs and ham in honor of Dr. Seuss, sewing costumes for her directors cut of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, trips to the Getty, LACMA, Bowers, Balboa, the Zoo, Legoland and watching “Pirates of the Caribbean” tall ships come in at Newport Harbor in which she and her kids landed a spot on the front page of the newspaper.  I could not have embarked on the homeschooling journey without her.  In fact, I would never have made it this far if it wasn’t for Clare and the other amazing women I have met along the way. 

Contrary to popular belief, we are not unschooling alone.  I am not sitting my kids down at the dining room table for 6 hours a day attempting to duplicate the school system at home by myself.  Unschooling is a collaborative effort of many interesting, talented, loving and diverse moms, dads, grandparents, kids and friends.  We are part of a big social network of other families doing the same thing.  Since many homeschoolers do not rely on schools for their education, we rely on each other.  Being solely responsible for your child’s education is a highly motivating factor to reach out and form a community. 

When my kids were in school, I reached out as well.  I carpooled, volunteered at school and lead a Cub Scout pack, but it simply was not the same.  There is a love and healthy dependence in our homeschooling group that goes deeper than carpooling and volunteering in class.  We are extended family. 

Each person has offered their time, expertise and wisdom.  Raundi taught the kids to write Haiku poetry, Carolyn showed us how to extract DNA from strawberries, April offered vegan cooking classes, Stephanie organized camping trips, Liz made sure there was always someone at Tuesday park day, Debi moderated the Yahoo group site, Amy opened her home for Dungeons and Dragons, Isis, Dianna, Orit, Cyndi, Marta, and many more managed Destination Imagination teams, brought food, supplies, opened their homes and their hearts to create a community where each of us and our children could grow and thrive.  And when life gets tough, we come to each other’s aid.  When someone is sick or in distress or a kid needs a ride or somewhere to spend the day we are there for each other. And when in need of tissue and chocolate, it arrives at your front doorstep.

Life is easier when you are part of a network of friends.  I am afraid there are a lot of people out there that feel isolated and do not have the support they need.  No man is an island.  We need each other.  We do not thrive without people.  We are all interconnected.  The African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child could not be more true.  It originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb “Ora na azu nwa” and has found its way to our homeschooling community half way across the world in Orange County, California.    I am eternally grateful for my village!!!

8 Responses to ““Ora na azu nwa” – It Takes a Village”

  1. Mom Says:

    As a grandparent who has been extremely active in supporting “The Yes Mom” and her dream to homes school my Grandchildren, all I can say is job well done honey! Dad and I are so very very proud of you. And so proud of our wonderful Grandchildren. Deanne you never cease to amaze me!! When my door bell rings after dark I run to the bedroom because I am in my P-jays and have already removed my make-up. How shallow!

  2. Terry Says:

    Kinda reminds me of my old neighborhood when my kids were young…like about 25 years ago. Glad to hear there are still people around that help each other out….we need more of these neighborhoods! xoxoxo

  3. Raundi Says:

    Oh Deanne…thank you for this one. Our village is one of the things I am most grateful and proud of. Lifelong friends, extended family, partners in crime, a home for my inner- village idiot…all of the above. It was the greatest gift I could have ever given my children (and frankly, myself.) We still reap the benfits everyday even though we aren’t homeschooling anymore. I got a pep talk from April this morning. Advice and business leads from Deanne. A sweet text from Diana. A hug from Kevin and Maggie. A ride home for my kids on Friday. Offers of food for friday from Isis (who has the stomach flu). And this afternoon I will be asking for advice from Mike Lemp. The benfits are exponential. I can’t forsee an end to this. I love you all!

    I miss you too Clare!

    And Maureen, you crack me up: D

  4. clare Says:

    I can hardly see the keyboard through the tears. Our years with all of you were just incredible and truly the best years of our lives. Even for homeschoolers I think we had a particularly extraordinary group of families. Such talented and brilliant women and fabulous involved Dads We all learned as much from each other as our kids. We were just looking at footage of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” the other day and couldn’t believe how YOUNG everyone was!! And how talented! Today is a momentous day because Matthew sent in his very last assignment of his highschool career this morning!! He is done! As I write he and Drew are clomping about on the “roof” sorting out the rigging as we prepare the boat for our planned departure on November 12th. Thank you for your wonderful posts. They will be my life line as we leave the shore.

  5. Tina Says:

    Of all your writings on unschooling, I love this one the most. It really encapsulates the homeschooling community. I’m still smiling. I can probably help with the beer. :D

  6. Cyndi Says:

    I’m so happy to be a part of this village. I am constantly inspired by each and every person (young and not so young) in it. Thanks for being there to come home to . . .

  7. Orit Says:

    Dear Deanne
    we’re having a wonderful time half the world away.
    yet I think of you.
    I miss you and the village.

    You are one special lady.
    I’m blessed to have you as a friend.
    All the love

  8. Debi Says:

    It was a magical time, and I was fortunate to be a part of it.

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