What is your one single special wish was the question asked by a visiting friend to a bunch of teenage girls at our women centre. The question was met with stony silence and a few quizzical glares. Children from slums are rarely asked what their wishes are. But all children have dreams and aspirations. It was time to try and ferret them out.
D, our committed coordinator decided to rephrase the question: if you had 1000 Rs what would you get. And out came the answers: a watch, a tape recorder, clothes, school books, gifts for my siblings, a new school bag, clips for my hair and more. Simple dreams, simple desires that reflected the small things that we take for granted but that hold such meaning for these kids. None costing anything close to the 1000 imaginary rupees, and yet things that were so dear to these young girls. The answers were moving in their simplicity.
We decided to delve deeper and asked what they would like to change around them if they could and pat came the answers: get rid of the dirt and garbage around us, get clean water, plant more trees and so on. One young girl simply said she wanted people to learn to respect others. The reason for this was touching: she has no father and her mother works but is often the butt of nasty and misplaced comments. She just wanted others to respect her mom.
Children have wisdom beyond their age but sadly cannot always express their views or share their opinions. No one is willing to listen to them.
A day earlier the same friend had asked the same question to our special kids, the ones many think have no dreams. This is what they said: Radha who can never walk wants to be a dancer. Ankur a policeman, Anurag simply wants to become a big man and Preeti a teacher. Dreams that may seem impossible but are nevertheless important to these children of a lesser God. No dream is ever too small, no dream is ever too big...