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The Poor Kid Next Door is my Brother

Posted on June 20, 2009 in Specials


The area where I stayed was surrounded by slums dwellers. The children would beg for supporting their families, making cute faces, which would make you give money to them, and then their entire gang would ambush you and ask for money. And if you refused, you’d hear some colorful profanities.

They’re kids from the road side slums. Their fathers pull rickshaws or do menial labor, clean toilets etc. Their mothers work as domestic help, beg and try to earn a living.
And like every other respected family, beneath the soot caked faces, the running noses, the torn dirty clothes — lay dreams. To some day have a respectful living.

When I see those kids from around the corner, laughing and playing, grinning with their soot colored faces, my first thought is to laugh at the innocence of the kids — who are like the rest of us. Next is, wish I could do something for these people.

The lady who worked as a domestic help at my place, came from a place far away. She had to battle for a seat in the first train of the day, ward of those roving hungry hands of animals disguised as humans, and come to the city. Then she worked in different houses until 6 and left for her village in the last train.

Her husband was a lazy drunkard who doesn’t work so she threw him out of the house. She has two children who want to be ‘Babus’ when they grow up and they hope to see their mother having a life at home — no more working as domestic help, washing other’s dirty clothes and dishes.

So they go to their local schools.

My mum had been to my ‘bua’s’ (maid) house. She said the children were uber cute and well behaved.

Why on earth do we think these kids are pests, should be given away, they disgrace the country blah blah? I don’t understand.

What I understand is, they deserve a future as we do.

So what can we do for them? We are the more fortunate. We are people who pity them. We are people who wish this ‘calamity’ would end. We are people advocating for the end of poverty.

And we are the people full of big talks. Everything is left to the government. If there are slum dwellers — it’s automatically the short coming of the government.

But what can we do for them? So many of us refuse to give them money. Saying they are frauds. All I know is I wouldn’t beg until I was forced by circumstances to do so. So weren’t these people forced to go begging by their hunger, and basic needs?

Just cuz they’re foul mouthed doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a proper future.

This is what you can do.

* Educate a child or a group. Yes you can do it. If God has blessed you with time and money, you can utilize it by buying a text book and a notebook and teaching a child who wants to study. Dedicate an hour if you can. You’ll at least make a child literate.
* Donate your old clothes. Every year my family instead of throwing our old clothes donates them to Red Crescent Society. You can also give it to your ‘Bua’ or your domestic help, the poor people around you. The sick and the needy. Need I go on?
* A meal a day. If there is a child you are probably educating, you can provide him with a free meal.
* Volunteer at a NGO in your area.
* Sponsor a child. It’s not very expensive. Enroll a child in a local school and pay for their books. You can provide him or her with clothes, or little money monthly. For these people a little investment in their future goes a long way. Is Rs 500 a month too much to make a person’s future?

There’s a lot more you can probably do. Look around you. These people are not different from us. Love them. If you can’t afford sponsoring then donate your old outdated clothes that you won’t wear again. A little goodness goes a long way. And this is Karma — what you give someday comes back to you in exactly the same measure. Be the change.

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