I stayed up late the other night reading. I am glad I did, as I caught a show on abc2, which just about broke my heart. About children who were born to prostitutes.
We all know there is a large portion of humanity who suffer incredibly. Who live day in & day out in atrocious conditions. We see the riots & wars on the news, third world countries swallowed up in poverty, hear about human trafficking, child soldiers, babies dying from dehydration & hunger, children used as drug runners. Sometimes we become, not quite immune to it, but perhaps a little 'accustomed' to it. We know it happens, just not to us. We go about our days, wrapped up in our own 'first world problems' (both the inconsequential & the life-altering). Then re-awakened to it all, to the many less fortunate than us, when another tragedy is broadcast.
Not everyone is guilty of the above. There are many wonderful people, saints, who are making a small yet consequential difference in our world, in the lives of many.
But I am guilty.
I'm aware that there is so much suffering going on, both on our own door step right here in Australia, & thousands of miles away all over the world. I'll have tears running down my face, ranting in my own head about the injustice of it all watching a news footage. Then within the week I forget about it again, wrapped up in caring for our own children. Putting food in their bowls, clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet. While there are other children who have no food, no clothes, no shoes. Sometimes no one.
This program, 'Born into Brothels' followed the lives of half a dozen or so children in India, just a handful of what would be hundreds in similar conditions, who broke my heart.
"One has to accept life as being sad & painful...That's all." This matter of fact statement came from an eight year old boy.
A generation of prostitutes. A great grandmother, grandmother & mother who all work, or worked, 'In the Line', as it is called. It was an inescapable fact that soon the pre-teen daughter would join them. The girl did not want to follow in their footsteps, my god who would, but she could not see any way out. Depressingly resigned to the life ahead of her.
There was no chance of stopping the tears when it cut to the scene of a two or three year old boy who lived with his grandmother & his slightly older sister. His mother also a sex-worker, who had tried to commit suicide & could no longer care for them. This toddler naked but for a threadbare red t-shirt, chained (yes you read that right, chained) by his left ankle to a wooden horizontal post across an open aired window really hit me, as I compared this to Will or Blake who are within the same age range. Witnessing that scene undone me. I wanted to change the channel thinking I couldn't deal with seeing any more. But I didn't. If they can live in those circumstances, the least I could do was become aware of their world, rather than try to ignore the reality they live in because it is too emotional for me to merely witness.
Children working from 4am in the morning, helping to clean, cook, or carry buckets of water up several flights of stairs, & still going at 11pm at night. My hardworking husband, who works long hours, still doesn't come close to the labour these children do.
Going to play up on the rooftop of the dilapidated apartment block because mother was "working" with the man in the curtained off room in their two roomed 'apartment'.
Playing in the streets filled with mud & who knows what else, as their high, drug addicted father lies near comatose in the gutter.
One young boy told of how his mother would say to him, "I'm going to send you to London to study", desperately dreaming she could give her son a better life. He knew though, that this would never happen & simply accepted this stating "We don't have the money to live let alone for studies."
Yet here we are, thinking about getting foxtel. As if the free & readily available channels are not enough. Debating whether to buy the kids all new bikes now, or to wait until Christmas time, because if we buy them now, we need to try & think of something else that they 'want' & don't already have. Buying tabs because the screen of an ipod touch is too small. A little bit of perspective was thrown over me like a bucket of cold water.
We do try to explain & show our kids, especially the older three, to understand just how incredibly fortunate they are, that we are. We frequently go through all their toys, donating those that aren't played with regularly, have surplus of, or have out grown. I sort through their clothes, donating what is outgrown or been replaced. The kids understand that these items are going to other children who don't have any toys, or very many clothes. Whose parents don't have a lot of money, or children who do not even have parents. We can see this has made an impact on their awareness, as on a somewhat regular basis one of them will ask if we can give a toy they don't want anymore to the kids who don't have any. They see on the news children crying in a country in turmoil from a natural disaster or conflict & ask if we can give them their clothes.
But after watching this documentary I feel like it's just not enough. How do we make a big enough impact & change for those in need when we are only but one person. What can I do to protect that little girl, the same age as Rianan, from becoming just another face in a long line of vulnerable & abused women. What can we do to provide the 10 year old boy with a basic education, an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty he was born into.
It's devastating that these children believe their way of life is normal. What is beyond atrocious to us is an accepted reality for them.
I don't know where I'm going with this.
What I do know though is that I'll be taking more opportunities to try make a difference somehow. Beyond just donating what we have an excess of or no longer need. To include the kids on becoming more aware of the greater world around us. Even if a small contribution is made, a small effort, it is better than nothing at all. I want to ensure our minions understand just how loved, how lucky & privileged they are, even by Australian standards, & to share some of that love around to those who need it.
**You can watch 'Born into Brothels' on ABCiview