Equality in Humanity..

11 Oct

I recently visited Santvana, a Children’s Home run by Dr. Lalita Edwards. I had been there one before and had resolved to go there more often, but yet it took me 3 years or more before I visited her again. This is what life does to you, makes you insensitive to the world around and worse self absorbed. Hence, maybe it had become even more necessary for me to go there that day.I was at the brink of losing my faith in humanity. Life experiences make it very difficult to trust people any more. One moment you may feel you know the person in and out only to be left disappointed to know that you trusted the wrong person all along. Thankfully, one of such moments lead me to the doorsteps of Santvana.

I heard a loud, “Yes Nani” as I walked through those doors. I tried quietly to settle myself on the chair closest to the door, but too late the kids were distracted by my entrance. Their eyes followed Dr. Edwards, as she smiled kindly and asked me to be seated. She continued with her conversation with the children, both in a loving tone and the stern voice to ensure they do not do what they did again. She taught them the value of life, to be sober in their behaviour and above all to respect girls and to be kind to one another. These were things must have been too much for a 4 year old or even a 8 year old to comprehend, but it was necessary to be told none the less. Before I proceed let me tell you a little about these children. They were between the ages of 4 and 18.They had clean and neat clothes put on along with an occasional radiant smile and rapt attention as the situation demanded. Most of these children baring two to three are HIV infected, but they did not fancy any pity or attention, but quite the contrary. They were confident, smart, happy and content individuals. So if you are feeling sorry for them, I would ask you humbly not to. I just sat there amazed as I spoke to them and how articulate they were in their thoughts and speech. This is what these homes give them- just someone who believes in them, someone who does not treat them differently or make them feel separated. Just like no parent would make their child suffering from any disability feel helpless or alone. They need money no doubt to sustain, but what they need more is respect and acceptance in the society. Our culture (which we are so proud of)  does not allow them to have an equal standing in the society. Our society (that we say is progressing) tries to drag them down both emotionally and physically such that their disability is so nakedly mocked.Our mindset (that we claim is westernized) cripples them and forces them to be separated from others. Sadly, even if they do survive the disease the world will crush them. Hence, they need people like us to reinforce that they are accepted, that they are our peers. I see them no differently than how I see my 4 your old nephew. I know I am guilty of allowing life to keep me so busy that I am blinded to the pain and suffering of those around me. It taught me to be less inward and more outward in my thinking and doing. I am not writing this to make you feel guilty for not doing the same, or to appeal to your conscience to start keeping aside money to give. No! My only appeal to you all would be to accept them for who they are and not for where they come from. I could give them nothing in return for what they gave me – to open my eyes to see clearly that I had nothing to complain about, to instead thank God for all that He has blessed me with and to give more and spend less on things I have no need for. Just imagine if all of us could only sacrifice the one thing that we really wanted but do not need and give it to the one who has the need, even of the basic necessities, we would have more smiling faces.

I have had the privilege to know many such children who have had little but by the grace of God have much today. They have bought their own homes, cars, best of the bikes and have good jobs and yet those who know where they come from treat them differently. Conveniently forgetting that today they stand equal to them in the society with respect to making the money or living good lives. The work that the people who raise them up in such homes put in, where they are told that they are no different, is all in vain when someone from the other side of the society, the self proclaimed ‘fortunate’ ones who never allow them to forget their place in the society, makes them feel otherwise. I challenge each one of you to shake hands and accept people for who they are and not from where they come and what their past is. I know even as you are reading this, you are going in your head,” I would never do a thing like that.” But we are so caught up with pleasing the society and are so aware of the difference in the classes and standard of living that even unknowingly we shun them and say something that would immediately make them stand out of the crowd.

These children have a better chance of living a healthy life than a dignified life here. My sincere prayer is that what they learn from this home and the life that Nani so lovingly provides to them will strengthen them to face the world outside. Until then I hope we as people realize more not to distinguish anyone based on what they wear or what they look like or which class of the society they belong to, but only look at the person they are.

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