As an American, I am extravagantly blessed with comforts most of the world cannot even imagine. I often find myself hiding from this world inside an impenetrable bubble, a bubble made up of all the “Vital” and “Irreplaceable” conveniences that I have come to expect from my culture.
These conveniences often blind me to the needs of my less fortunate brothers and sisters, who languish halfway across the globe in hopeless poverty.
Somewhat recently in my travels, I have been privileged to experience some of the best that human culture has to offer. I’ve seen towering monuments hewn from the sides of mountains, houses bejeweled with antique porcelain statuary, and carved pillars that seem to spiral endlessly up to the heavens. I’ve witnessed the festival of Diwali coat the city in an array of splendid colors and light the sky afire with brilliant fireworks.
But behind every great human achievement, behind every great unforgettable I was delighted to view with my own eyes, trembled equally unforgettable children. Emaciated from birth, fed on what scraps that could be found floating in raw sewage, these poor children considered it a luxury to possess a few rags to drape across their slender frames. They would race towards me, a white foreigner they considered wildly rich, to beg for a few rupees (a rupee is worth a little less than 2?). Torn and mangled hands were thrust in my face, the children grasping at the hope that maybe, just maybe, I would show kindness.
And here comes the most heartbreaking part of my little story: I couldn’t give the children anything. In India, nearly every child on the streets is enslaved to an elder. The child begs for money, and then brings everything to this elder. They are not fed for their work, they are not clothed, and few receive any form of shelter. The elder takes the money and sends the children off to bring back more, threatening them with heinous tortures to keep them in line. Any money given to the children literally pays for their enslavement.
My father would sometimes purchase some food for these poor souls in an attempt to show love. But once he bought food for one, the rest would do everything but attack my father in their desperate pleas for money. It became incredibly clear we simply couldn’t do much on our own.
As I write this on an American computer, I’m sitting in an American household with American air conditioning. My belly is full, my skin clean, and I even have the luxury of a little deodorant to keep me smelling sweet. I’m hoping to earn a scholarship to help pay for college, which in turn will give me the education needed to further pamper myself in the wonderful American economy. And yet…
I can’t get the memory of those kids out of my head. They did nothing to deserve their fate, their misfortune. They were simply born of the wrong mother, into a broken world. And yet for no fault of their own they lay dying in the streets, knowing that EVEN IF they somehow survive childhood, many adults are no better off than they. Children are not the only ones begging for food in India.
Not every story has a happy ending. I’m still here in America, still unable to do much for these precious children. But my heart goes out to them, and I hope to return to India one day to serve and protect them.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – Since when did only us fortunate few deserve these “luxuries”?
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