My father died from hunger,
so did my mother.
I beg for food, yet my stomach is empty.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
I heard about,
but I never owned them.
I limp on one leg, for an auto rickshaw ran over me.
Hospital I went to,
but they threw me out.
Who am I?
A seller of balloons on the streets
for my living.
Tourists take my photos
for them I smile,
but they don’t know
inside I am crying.
In return for food,
sometimes I wash plates and cups and clean latrines in hotels.
At night I sleep on the shop verandas.
A hired servant I am to a rich family.
My working hours are from sunrise
I collect my boss’ children from school every day.
I ask them to teach me.
They mock me,
saying, “You have no brain; you cannot learn.”
Often angry and bitter for being betrayed by those thought to be my friends,
I cry myself to sleep from the pain of loneliness.
Shivering from bitter cold in winter time
for I own no blankets
Forced to sell drugs by older kids
Who am I?
A runaway child, trying to find hope in a mega city.
I get a beating from the mistress I work for in a kitchen.
I did nothing wrong—
but I cannot complain,
for where can I go?
A few weeks ago I wrote this poem, “Who Am I?” remembering many of the beggars and street children and the many different people I have met over the years. As I started thinking about it, I began to see myself in the shoes of those tens of thousands of broken lives that I had encountered over the years. I could feel their anguish. I was humbled.
Every Child Is Made in the Image of God
World Children’s Day is November 20, and it is an opportunity for us to think about children around the world, including the ones I wrote about, and the future they will have. Talking about the day, the UN says, “We want to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfill their potential.”
What a world that would be! The first part of that statement, “where every child is in school,” is critical to these children being “safe from harm” and being able to “fulfill their potential.”
GFA recently released a special report, Solutions to Poverty Line Problems of the Poor & Impoverished, which shows the far-reaching effects of an education—affecting not only financial stability but also health, and personal and societal well-being.
Children have incredible potential, whether they are from the best of circumstances or the worst, and this potential can be realized through an education. I heard about a village where children didn’t have the same opportunity and encouragement that we can easily take for granted. Many of the parents had to be gone most of the day working. They would come home only late in the evening. The children were living basically on their own, and 40-50% of them were dropping out of school entirely after 5th or 6th grade.
But, by God’s grace, we were able to help start a Bridge of Hope center in the village to help provide these children with a holistic education. Because of that, many of the children who would normally skip school or even drop out were staying in school.
And just one year after we started the center, one of these little girls told us that she wants to become a medical doctor so she can help other poor and needy people.
Her story is not just the story of one person, but it is the story of thousands. Through Bridge of Hope, tens of thousands of children are getting food and clothing and an education, and many will go on to become teachers and doctors and many other things, and they will be a blessing not only to their families but to their entire society as well.
What Makes the Difference for These Children?
And what is it that is making the difference for these children? Of course it is the education and the food and everything else, but what is behind all that?
It is kindness.
The kindness of the staff, who in many cases are giving up better-paying jobs to be able to serve these children and help them develop their true potential; and of the administrative staff of Bridge of Hope, who work behind the scenes out of love for the children; and of the children’s sponsors, who give and pray for them and write to them, telling them of their value, is what is changing their lives.
And this is true not just for children but for all of us. Not just our potential but even our very survival depends on the kindness of people around us, even the months we spent in our mother’s womb. So you see the immensity of the impact that kindness has. And I think part of being kind means that we must think of others and value them.
There is nobody who is worthless or inferior, because every one of us is made in the image of God. CS Lewis talks about in his book The Weight of Glory how each of us are immortal, and to consider the magnitude of what that means.
Think about it—every single one of these children is an eternal being. They will live forever. That means they are extremely, infinitely valuable, and we must value them. Once we recognize that and understand that, we will know how we must treat them. And of course that applies to you and me and everyone else also.
So maybe we can take some time today to think about the children we know and to deliberately recognize the fact that they are made in the image of God, and to value them and see their potential.
And we can also pray for them, and also for children around the world who are suffering in very difficult, even unimaginable, circumstances, that the Lord would protect them and help them, and even enable us, His Church, to show them a little kindness.
Read Gospel for Asia’s special report about the far-reaching effects of an education.