Life Lessons At The Metro Station: Turn Empathy Into Action
The gap between the rich and the poor is what we need to bridge ASAP. This is what I realised the other day when I paused to observe, not just look at, what was unfolding in front of me.
8:55 AM: The metro station’s morning rush makes one feel that everybody in Delhi is out of their home and enjoying the weather. After all, Delhi’s weather has suddenly become so pleasant. Monsoon showers also mean we take shelter from the rain, pause and look around.
9: 00 AM: I try to keep hold of my clumsy bag, not-so-heavy phones and my lunch box while waiting for my friend at the metro station. Feeling restless and excited at the same time, I try to engage in my favourite pastime--observing people around. The seemingly never-ending metro trips, hustle-bustle of the metro station, tittle-tattle of the people make me more curious and I patiently wait for my friend. Observing people around has always been my last resort to kill time.
9:30 AM: The grim face of a child catches my eye--a child wandering around hopelessly, carrying another one in his lap (who I assumed was his sister). The boy was wearing shabby clothes while his sister was completely naked, weeping, and trying to get off him. It seemed like she wanted to wander around freely. Suddenly, I see an old lady yelling out his name and calling her to come downstairs immediately.
9:35 AM: I see around four to five children along with that lady, sitting around quietly and enjoying tea. A wave of warmth and contentment passes through me as I watch them sipping tea and enjoying it in this weather. The rain had brought some respite from the scorching heat and these street dwellers, eating by the roadside, are delighted.
9:45 AM: Watching these street dwellers gave me the idea to share facts which we all know but rarely share. May be we think it’s not worth sharing, or worth spending time on. Obviously, why would we? We are living in a restful and protected environment; why would we care about them?
According to a study done by UNICEF, Delhi has around 100,000 homeless children and 33% of them are between 6-10 years of age.
Another study, the first of its kind, done on the census of street children covering all nine districts of Delhi, says that one of the five children living on the street are involved in rag picking, followed by street vending, begging, working on roadside repair shops, dhabas, and in manufacturing units.
Around 50% of these children are illiterate and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. They are abused by employers, sexually abused by street dwellers, strangers and sometimes by police too. Nearly 22% are vulnerable to drugs, tobacco and other addictions.
These children don’t have any means and often indulge in crime to fulfil their needs. The government policies are in place but fail to benefit them because of poor implementation.
The plight of these street children is heart-breaking and we should be thankful to God for whatever he has given us.
Recently, UNICEF released a video with the hashtag #foreverychild. The video has a child artist playing the role of a well-off kid who is asked to stand on a busy street. Every passer by stopped seeing her standing alone and asked if she has lost her way, what’s her name, how old is she.
Then, they asked her to wear dirty clothes and represent a street child. She was again asked to stand on a busy street. This time, nobody even cared to look at her.
The act was again repeated in a restaurant, and the same thing happened.
10 AM: My friend waves to me from the other end of road. I quickly make a move, with my head still wandering in all these thoughts. I realize that in India, the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer. The gap is widening, and we must bridge the gap as soon as possible.