hen we think of traveling, we mostly have positive thoughts in our mind. Traveling gives a different perspective of the world, most of them are positive. Hardly any traveler will disagree. But they exist. Those moments when you wish you were home, back in your cozy comfort zone.
One of those moments i had when i was visiting an orphanage in India. On one of my trips a met an employee of an NGO. He asked me if i can take some images for an orphanage to fund money. Only a person with a heart of stone could have said no. A few days later we went there.
Reading the sentences above you might imagine the worst. Hungry children, dirty toilets, desperation. None of it. The employees of the orphanage did a great job of making the most out of the little money they had. Everything clean. The kids well nourished and vital. What it lacks is money. Money for the education of the kids. So they don’t end up on the street when they age out. A few computers, school books. Things that are just normal in the western world.
But now we get to the point. To the point that shook me and my beliefs. Before I’ve arrived there, i prepared for the worst. Everyone reading this will have images in his mind. I was positively surprised. The kids were fine, considering the fact they are orphans. You even had the feeling that most of them were even happy.
What triggered a strong feeling of discomfort was the thought of my own childhood. I had parents who took care of me. I had a warm home, a bicycle, and toys, plenty of them. I also had those things i didn’t wish for, like school books. I didn’t have to walk to school, there was a bus. Children of now even have more. Hardly a kid over 10 years of age that doesn’t own a smartphone, or even its own TV. Nevertheless, the number of mental disorders in kids is rising. Anxiety, fears, even depression. In the countries of milk and honey, you can find unhappiness.
In this orphanage the kids sleep on a matress on the floor. They have to queue up 30 minutes for there food (vegetarian), eating it sitting on the floor. Toys are rare, only a few balls for soccer and cricket bats for kids. But if you look at the images i took, you see happy smiling faces. Certainly, this was due to the fact that the photo shooting was an exciting moment for the kids. They gave me a show.
One of the kids particularly conquered my heart. His name is Krishna, the kid that salutes. The plastic bag was his uniform. I asked one of the employees for his story, why he was there. She wasn’t certain of all the details, but the story was something like this. His mother died short after his birth. His father was a soldier, killed on duty. (here the lady wasn’t certain, but she meant that he was killed during the terror attacks in Mumbai) So the boy stayed with his grandmother, till she passed away as well. Finally he ended up at the orphanage. His biggest wish, to become a soldier like his father, and to serve his country. WOW.
What touched me so emotionally? How can a child with this history have such a smile. And why do kids that have everything smile so little.
How can a child that got so little from life have the wish to serve and help others?
I’m grateful for my time there. (we stayed 3 days) It gave me a few insights about life, you might even call it wisdom.
“not having enough to survive can play its toll to make you unhappy, but having more than enough doesn’t make you happy necessarily”
And what really got to me, shook me inside out. How easily i forget those words over and over in daily life.