I live in India. A country with humongous population. A country where most people are below the poverty line and struggle to get themselves one square meal a day. I don’t mean to show my country down, but this is one cause that clinches my heart and I need to write about it.
Almost every where I go, I see kids on the roads selling, begging, working their lives off to earn money. To earn money to feed themselves and their families. Kids who are hardly four or five years old. The sight is pathetic and makes me want to cry out loud.
A flower seller family (both the husband and wife sell flowers) who have their shop at our street corner have 2 kids who are just one year apart from each other. They barely managed to get one or two square meals a day for one person earlier, and now with 2 kids it has become all the more difficult for them to make ends meet. The kids don’t go to school, they sit by their parents in the mornings and take around baskets of flowers in the evening to sell and make some money. The mother, is now expecting her third child, all for want of a son – The first 2 kids being girls. Now, this raises another question in our minds. The stigma that’s been long there – the want of a boy in the family.
But what troubles me more is the child labour. The fact that the kids don’t deserve this life at all. Children need to be educated. It is their primary and most important right. They don’t necessarily need to have a luxurious life of 3 square meals a day, but food enough to help them sleep in peace, without having to sweat for it at such a tender age? They don’t need to have designer wear or expensive perfumes, but the basic, decent clothing? And above everything else, they shouldn’t have to work when they are kids, they shouldn’t have to earn to make their ends meet, when they should actually be doing their lessons or playing. They shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the family when they should be carefree and happy and wild.
You know what exactly bothers me here?
The mindset of the grown ups. The parents of the kids. Two people get married and keep begetting children. As many as they want to. Or until they have a boy. They don’t even think enough to figure if they’d be able to support the children they are planning to have or if they’d be able to give them a life of proper health, education and safety. And then, finally, when the children are born, the parents have absolutely no clue about how to make ends meet and end up sending their children to earn.
Two people can’t start a family just because they can. Or just because they want to. They need to first figure out if they are financially, and economically capable to do so.
This is exactly where the problem lies. Lack of awareness. Lack of education. Ignorance. It is high time we begin to do something about it when we can, because, children, are our best bet, they are our only hope to a brighter and a more positive future. It is time we give them the care, the attention, the health and the education they deserve, because they are real wealth we keep looking around for, but forget to recognise.