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The Realistic or Unrealistic Dream: The Slums of India- Do You Give A Sh*t?

 

After spending 16 days on a tour with Hands On Journeys in India and volunteering in the slums of Delhi and Jaipur, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people just don’t give a shit.

As I am writing this post I’m rather angry, but let me explain.

I’ve seen slums and poverty before. To be completely honest (and I did question myself about this), I did feel bad, but I didn’t feel that bad.

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You see, the women and children I met in the slums don’t know any better. They are born and raised to do one thing and one thing only. Survive.

Isn’t that why we are all here for? To survive.

Families believe that having their children work is more valuable than sending them to school because school only takes up time that their children could spend working, aka bring food to the table.

They work every day to eat. To survive. Which is all that really matters. Right?

The reason I don’t feel as bad is because they don’t know any better. These children don’t know about social media and fancy things. They only know they need money. Money to buy them food and to keep them warm.

The children I met in the slums had bigger smiles on their faces than I’ve seen on people who have everything! Yet, these children don’t have much. What made their smiles even bigger was that I was just willing to talk and teach to them. That I let them play with my hair and that I allowed them to ask me how old I was and where I was from. They enjoyed spending time with me. As I did with them. They only spend about 2-3 hours a day in school. The rest of the their days are spent working or getting what is needed to survive. Water and food.

The woman (Sonu) that started this slum school (Thriveseed Sonu) in Delhi, started it, because it was a dream she’d always had. Since she was a child. And like most people, she didn’t believe it would ever come true. She didn’t have the time or money to make it happen. Until her husband and his family supported her (with no government help).  She started with two students and today she has three schools with over 300 students. Sonu has come a long way.

The challenges Sonu faced where beyond monetary. She’s built these schools from donations. She said that the hardest part was walking into the slums’ homes and convincing parents that ought to go to school for 2-3 hours a day. That a child should be a child, not an adult.

“A CHILD SHOULD BE A CHILD AND HAVE A CHILDHOOD. NOT AN ADULT.”

This resonated with me. I looked at these children and thought of my adorable 1 year old niece and how simple and innocent she is. How she cries when she is hungry or tired.  How it’s all based on surviving. Then at that moment- it hit home.

Sonu has been working hard for quite some time now, and Hands On Journeys has been a big help! She said that people come and go. People say they want to help, but never do. It’s rare that they do, but always nice when they actually fall through.

Sonu, said that building these schools and giving these children these opportunities is something she’s always dreamed of. It makes her beyond happy. She doesn’t make a penny off this, by the way. The only thing she gains, are daily smiles and hugs. Her biggest challenge is convincing families in the slum that this will better their children’s lives. Let me repeat that, the BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS CONVINCING THE CHILDREN’S FAMILIES THAT EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT FOR THEIR CHILDREN’S FUTURE. This could mean that these children could eventually leave the slums one day. Have a future. If parents don’t believe in school but think that their child just needs to worry about making money to bring bread to the table, then what is there left for Sonu or anyone to do. These children don’t know what a childhood is. School changes that for them. It allows them to use their imagination and be child.

The reason this is so hard, is because they are still stuck in their cultural, social (class) ways. Most of these families believe that all they need is to survive and begging has worked pretty well for them. Why stop now. The dream of a better life isn’t as strong. – Sad. Isn’t it?

Sonu’s dream has only happened because she did give a shit and the people who loved her gave a shit too. (In plain terms)

Her ultimate dream is to, and I quote,

“Leave something behind one day. Something that will change the world and these people.”

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People helping people, but at the end of the day what do you leave behind? – That’s the big question.

We live in a world where, not all, but some people do things for show. Do things to please themselves and expect the same in return. Yes, we should be good humans and expect that people will be good to us back. But that isn’t always the case. We should do things wholeheartedly, but understand that everyone is different.

I believe those children are happy because they don’t know any better. They don’t need much. I also believe that it takes A LOT to change a society, it’s culture, government, and religion. It makes me sad to think that a child can not have a childhood because they need to work for help bring food to their family table. But I get that they need to survive. They need to eat.

We all do! Thats why we have jobs.

The sad truth is, India is such a beautiful country with so much to offer! But if locals won’t help each other, how can anyone else help? India is so stuck in its cultural and social (class) ways, that there is only so much we can do.

I visited three cities in India, Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. The biggest thing I noticed is the separation in social class. Like most 3rd world countries, you can see the difference between the upper class (rich people) and lower class (poor people). You don’t need a magnifying glass to see it. When you walk the streets of Delhi you have to be careful you don’t step on the homeless people sleeping on the side walks or streets. But you will see a man dressed in a $1000 suit over them.

And this is where my statement falls in…

People don’t really give a shit. 

Volunteer/ Travelers/ Tourists shouldn’t be paying for their dinners, but instead teach them how to cook dinner. How to survive. Teaching and empowering them. – (where Hands On Journeys does a great job in!) I believe that that’s where school plays an important role. Teaching a child how to make a difference in their lives only takes a couple of minutes. Those minutes could lead to a life time of change.- Sonu’s dream. Sonu is but one person who’s already done so much. Imagine what a country of people who cared could do.

My one wish for these children is that they continue to live a happy life and hopefully a long one. That their childhood filled days out weight there adulthood days. That the water filters I bought over (from Waves for Water/ Project Purpose) helped them and their families a little. And that my time, the time I spent teaching them, laughing, and playing, will not only fill their hearts but give them courage to know that some people do care. That I care. That some people do give a shit.

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If you want to HELP: In the coming weeks I will be sharing links and projects I will be working on to help! Make sure to follow me on Facebook for updates.

Would anyone like a take a trip with me? I am thinking of planning a trip with Hands On Journeys and inviting my followers to join. – It’s in the works! 

 

 

2016-10-24T23:03:26+00:00

10 Comments

  1. Raphael Alexander Zoren February 11, 2016 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Great article! It’s a real shame that most visitors care only about the sights (or a “cheap vacation”) without giving a second thought about the life of the locals.

    I see it all the time in my homeland in Mexico where locals get more and more impoverished each passing year and yes, empowering the people IS the only way to move forward.

    • THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER
      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER February 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Raphael! glad you enjoyed it and yes I’ve been to Mexico. I know what you mean. I’m glad you agree thats the only way to help others. Empowering! Ahh I love Mexico. I’ll have to make it down this year! ☺️?

  2. Liesbeth February 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Woow, this article touched me… I recently wrote one about how our dreams are always related to our possibilities and how what makes us chase them is knowing they’re within our reach. If you know something isn’t and will never be possible, why would you keep running after it? It’ll just leave you sad in the end. I think that’s also true here. Somehow these people don’t know any better and I guess somehow that’s not even a bad thing. Should we make them dream about things they’ll never have, only so that we feel better for having told them? But then there’s people like Sonu, who dare to see things bigger and try to create challenging yet possible dreams for the people around them. It’s not easy but it’s possible and so worth it! I’ll be following your FB for updates on this!

    • THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER
      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER February 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Liesbeth!! Thanks so much and wow you’ve just blown my mind away. Your perspective it perfect. You put it much simpler terms. Haha it took me 4-5 times to write this post just because I couldn’t actually get my thoughts organized I was kinda upset. You know. But so happy to see the response here!

      • Liesbeth February 11, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

        Don’t worry, it takes me 4-5 times to write ANY of my posts haha 🙂 When you write about emotions and people, you just have to make sure everything sounds right, that nothing is misunderstood and that everybody gets the message, which is a liiiittle bit more difficult than if we’d just be writing about ‘the top 10 things to do in India’, isn’t it? 🙂 But that’s also exactly why I love your blog, so don’t change! 🙂

        • THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER
          THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER February 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

          So true. Thanks so much girl! Haha and fight back about you. Liesbeth! Keep up the great work! Xx

  3. Hope February 11, 2016 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    What a great article! I have been wanting to take a volunteer trip for a long time now, and this has really inspired me! I would definitely be interested in doing one of these trips with you!

    • THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER
      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER February 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      Woohoo!! Thanks Hope! Id love to travel with you too. Just stick around and promise you’ll be hearing more soon. 🙂

  4. Tamshuk February 18, 2016 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for this post. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Good job trying to help these kids.

    • THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER
      THE SOCIAL GIRL TRAVELER February 18, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

      I wish I could do more! I am glad you enjoyed it. More than anything I’m actually glad you understand it. So thank you. ☺️

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