What is life like on "the other side"?
Today’s blog is by Chahak, a 9th grade student from Chennai and part of World Vision India's 'Youth Ambassador' programme.
Youth Ambassadors are young people from more affluent backgrounds who are given the chance to understand more about the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.
Chahak visited a project that works with the most vulnerable children in the community to help them gain access to education, improved sanitation and food security.
A few weeks ago, I saw a small boy sleeping on the side of a road as I was returning home.
The boy was barely dressed and sleeping on just a thin bed sheet with nothing to cover him. I’m sure this sounds familiar as everybody must’ve seen such sights at least once or twice. And many of us, including me, would most probably forget about it as soon as we see it. Well, I got an opportunity from World Vision India to see how they actually live and this is my experience of the other side of the world.
When we first came to the World Vision India office, I wasn’t sure what it was about. But when they told us their objective, the image of the boy sleeping on the footpath came to my mind.
We were taken to a slum near Egmore accompanied by some children that lived on the street that World Vision India helped.
The slums were a sobering sight as we saw the way people lived. Flies and mosquitoes everywhere, garbage strewn around, it was terrible. However the excitement on the faces of the children as we stepped out of the bus was awe-inspiring. A genuine smile was there on the faces of every kid we met and they all had what we lacked: contentment.
As I was coming back, again I thought of the boy I saw on the street and thought, “Maybe he was the one I saw?”
People rarely get to see and know about the plight of these people. All we are taught is that they are poverty-stricken and we should help them; no one is ever practically encouraged to help them. They are human beings like us and maybe even better than us and I think people deserve to know what the actual stories of these people are. And their story is about the other side of the world.
We love this project, and Chahak’s account of it, because it shows the immense value of teaching young people the realities of the poverty that surrounds them.
The Youth Ambassador programme will help provide a platform for Chahak and her peers to speak out about the plight of people “on the other side of the world” in their own back gardens to people who can make a genuine difference in their lives.
We hope helping children like Chahak understand the impact of poverty will help inspire the next generation of change makers. Have you ever come face-to-face with real poverty? What sort of effect did it have on you?