It was a silent morning in the park. A few old folks were taking slow steps while some younger men jogged past them hooked on to their headsets. All was quiet and calm until two little legs came running into the play area, making a bee-line towards the swing. As if by magic, she drew the young and old together who were now doting over her laughter. A tiny figure with her overload of cuteness and contagious joy had shone on our lives as beautiful as the morning sunshine. But wait! Did anyone notice the boy near the park’s construction site, sweating out the sunrise with his dad arranging bricks? Well, this is the reality most of us live in – where the questions of a 2-year old leave us awestruck at their pure innocence but the contrasting shock of a 1-year old abused child drives us questioning if any goodness even remains.
Did you know that out of the 444 million children below the age of 18 (37% of Indian population), 1 in every 4 school-going age children is a dropout, 3 in every 5 children are malnourished, 1 in every 3 child brides in the world is a girl in India, 10.13 million child labourers are under the age of 14? Every 8 minutes, somewhere, a child goes missing. Beyond an emotional response, we have easily compartmentalized child rights as the job of social workers and justify our involvement with acts of monetary charity. Unbeknownst to us, these are the values we silently pass on to our children too.
Our kids don’t grow up differentiating a child at the worksite and a child next door. To them, all are friends. Perhaps what we need today are eyes that can see the way the children do. Then a child cleaning my cup at a roadside tea stall will move my heart as much as my child sleeping peacefully in his/her bed. We don’t need an overseas trip to make a contribution. The need stands just across our workplaces, sometimes just beyond our doorsteps. Let us be sensitive to silent cries, speak up for the helpless, defend the weak, heal the hurting, encourage their endeavours, lead them in truth and treasure them as precious gifts from God. May our hearts rejoice when they smile, and may our hands be swift to wipe away their tears. May our little sunshine bloom where they are planted. May they see through us the love of God who said: “Let the little children come to me”.