Out of everything that happened while I was in India, this is turning out to be the hardest thing I’ve had to process. Of all the stories, all the places, all the things I’ve seen and heard, I’d much rather forget this day, and forget I ever saw this boy. So far, it’s taken me nearly a week to try and find the words to tell this story, and I’m still not convinced I’ve told it right, but it’s a story that needs to be shared, because I can’t (or rather, I don’t want to) believe that people still live in this way.
I don’t know his name, and I didn’t even really get to see his face. All I know is that he was wearing a bright red jumper and some scruffy trousers, and he was about four or five years old. He had no shoes on and lived in a slum compound at the end of a market high street. The slums were made only from tarpaulin, broken cardboard boxes and other basic materials, much like the ones in the image below:
The reason that they live so close to the busy market street is because this boy’s parents are rubbish sellers. Every day they leave their compound with the hope that someone would have discarded something “valuable” – empty drinks bottles, bits of paper, broken glass – because this boy’s parents can then sell this on to a recycling plant in exchange for a few pennies to try and feed their families.
This little boy has no hope of going to school, and no access to basic health care. I highly doubt he even has access to clean running water. But the thing that broke my heart the most? When he came out of the place he calls home, he found an old, broken broom, and started to play with it.
This little boy doesn’t even know what a toy is. And yet, playing with that broom, he had such a smile on his face.
How is this acceptable, that in the 21st century, there are children living amongst the filth on the street, with nothing but a sheet of plastic separating them from the world outside? My heart broke for that little boy in the red jumper that day, and then it broke again when I realised that he was just one among thousands in India, and across the world, who live the same lifestyle, with a lack of education and, with that, no way to break the cycle of poverty that his family is trapped in.
I can’t sit here and believe that there is nothing I can do anymore – I refuse to buy into the lie that I am powerless to do something to rescue children like this little boy. God promises over and over in His word that He has good things planned for us, and these good plans shouldn’t be conditional based on where we live or how much money we have. So here are some things we can do to make a difference to children like this.
Operation Christmas Child – I know it’s only April, but this is a project I’ve been involved in for a few years now, and I have been so blessed by it! Simply fill a shoebox with some simple gifts and it gets sent to some of the poorest places in the world and blesses children who literally have nothing.
Frishta – is the charity that I was blessed to be able to work with for five weeks whilst I was in India. They are doing an incredible job of advocating and providing for some of these children! If you would be interested in signing up to their newsletter or prayer letter, please let me know!
Compassion – (come on, we all knew this one was going to pop up somewhere!). Over the past year or so, I’ve developed such a beautiful relationship with my Compassion children in India, and I also had the incredible opportunity to spend a day at a project in India, so I can honestly tell you that the work they are doing in this beautiful country is just out of this world. From providing housing to families who have nothing to teaching the children about the love of Jesus, Compassion India are seeing communities transformed, and I feel so blessed to be a part of this!
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
– Mother Teresa