I haven’t traveled the entire world but just enough to have seen real poverty up close. This past week I was blessed to attend a wedding in India. I’ve read about the poverty that exists there, I’ve watched videos and read articles and imagined I was well prepared for whatever I would witness outside the palace garden wedding venue.
Then he walked up. One little boy at a Dehli train station platform walked up to our group as we waited for our train to take us to Jaipur. He made the familiar gesture of wanting food or possibly meaning money for food. He looked to be approximately 8 or 9 years old wearing a shirt that would have been better fit on a younger boy. His pants barely rose high enough and was kept on by a thin knotted rope for a belt. His teeth looked as they hadn’t seen a toothbrush in weeks if ever. My husband and others were sampling some of the food we purchased there and he offered this little guy some which he took.
It was clear then he was really wanting more and he then began the respectful sign of touching my husband’s foot after the greeting gesture placing his palms together in front of his face. He continued this a few more times and then he just stepped back and quietly watched. A few minutes went by and he then walked away only to be confronted by an older boy who was slightly better dressed who was clearly intimidating ‘our’ little guy. There was an argument or debate of sorts with hand motions pointing over towards our group. I tried to make sense of what I was seeing; was the younger working for the older and he was mad that he didn’t get money from us or did he think he did get money and was hiding it from the older boy. As I was pondering on this the younger spun around and took off running with the older in fast pursuit and within seconds they were both out of my view yet I can’t imagine he will be ever able to run out of the memory I carry from that day.
The gentle rocking of the train for the next few hours was soothing on my tired body from the journey to India yet I worked diligently to keep the tears from forming for this one little boy. I’ve seen other little ones similar in age begging in Mexico and Haiti and why I couldn’t shake the image of this one little boy? Was it because of the billions of people in this country that I imagined his fate more hopeless? As I looked into his face did I see a measure of emptiness and sadness I’ve not seen before? Was it the layers of dirt on his face or clothes that looked as though he could have worn them for the last 2 years? Why couldn’t I and why can’t I stop thinking of him…
I prayed God would deliver him; from poverty, from loneliness, that God would bring him a family to love and care for him, to wash him, clothe him and introduce him to Jesus and a place called heaven. Should we have done more for him that night? It was strongly recommended not to for the many others on the train station platform that would quickly overwhelm our group with their needs and potentially risk our safety.
As I sat on the train I recall the words that came to me as I recalled this one little boy-tortured heart- I said to myself, “my heart feels tortured”. What does that even mean other than I guess my heart aches and hurts for the pain and heartache of another to a depth that I cannot describe for reasons I do not know. I cannot change the poverty of a country much less one little boy I will never see again outside of a miracle.
So, where do I go with this tortured heart? I will continue to send my monthly donation to ‘our’ little girl we support in India knowing she is blessed to have a family, attend school and doesn’t have to beg for what she needs. I will continue to pray for our train station boy as he may be there today standing near another group gesturing his need for food and money and I will allow him to represent the pain, poverty and needs of the millions of children around the world and pray each one finds the love they deserve and meet the Savior who created them.
Having traveled into India to see the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever experienced was an amazing and memorable opportunity yet I have to somehow acknowledge the reality that poverty is real, not just in India but in every country. Flying away from Delhi seeing the brilliant beauty of city lights I know that I will never be the same for all that I just experienced. I pray for the life of one little boy somewhere down in the midst of those million lights and the millions of children he represents not only on a train station but quite possibly in my very own neighborhood…and yours.
SuAnne please send me your email address. Wrote you but couldn’t get it sent. Thought I had your email address. K
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