During a recent interview an eager young journo kept asking whether I did not get disturbed or feel helpless at the sight of all the children I saw at red lights or other places begging. He was quite bewildered when I told him that I did not, I simply felt outraged.
And that too for more reasons than one!
First and foremost this was the wost form of child labour but one that did not seem to be addressed at all by the powers that be. It was undoubtedly the easiest one to be identified as it happened not behind close doors or dingy sweat shops but out in the open for everyone to see! And yet no one seemed to care. Moreover it was one that we were all guilty of abetting as most of us did give that coin, perhaps to get rid of the pestering child or whining mother or perhaps simply to ease one's conscience. And as long as the business was lucrative it would carry on.
My mind went back to an incident that occurred many years ago when I was accosted by a beggar woman. I did not have any change on me so I looked at her and simply told her that I was sorry I did not have anything to give her. She held on to my hand and told me that I had given her a great gift. I was needless to say bewildered. Seeing my confusion she smiled and told me: You looked into my eyes child, and acknowledged me as a fellow human . People normally throw some money at you but never dare look at you. This was probably one of the greatest lesson I got in my entire life.
Herein lies the problem that plagues our society. The divide between rich and poor is getting wider by the day and the rich have lost the ability to look into the eyes of the poor that are actually everywhere. Do we see the families working relentlessly in the biting cold or scorching heat on all the fancy new constructions that are mushrooming in our city; do we see the children at red lights peddling their ware and realise that they are children just like ours; do we look at the road side slums that have been in existence for decades as we drive pass and wonder at all the babies born amongst the fumes of cars revving at the red light and at the plight of people living under the constant fear of demolition?
In our nine long years of trying to make a difference, of striving at building better and brighter morrows for what we call underprivileged children we have faced and surmounted many obstacles. And it has been the most rewarding time in our life in spite of all. But if there is a sense of helplessness or frustration it foes not stem from inability to help each and every child. It does not require to be a rocket scientist to know that one person cannot solve all the problems that plague our society. What is infuriating is the fact that what disturbs us leaves others cold. What is enraging is that people around us have lost their ability to see, let alone act. What is bewildering is that hep is not forthcoming and that instead one is treated with a string of cynical lectures.
No I do not feel helpless, I feel actually feel terribly sad that most of us have lost the courage to look deep into the eyes of a poor child. Perhaps because we are terrified of getting lost in them.