Where is our future, what is our future ……………..
As I observed the children playing I was watching not only children being mischievous and having fun but witnessing our future. The innocence of the children playing with no other worry or concern at that precise moment was refreshing to gaze upon. Where did all those years go when all that was of importance was if I would be the first to have my turn at skipping this time?
My experiences throughout India I believe continued to make me a richer person in my outlook. It is so easy to live in your own bubble and imagine the rest of the world is the same. Surrounded with the latest technology, constant running hot water, instant gas fires and an abundance of material things that matter to you as an individual.
The experience of being amongst different cultures only helps you as an individual to look outside of your own exclusive bubble.
Wherever you travel to in the world you see children playing, maybe role playing at being a mother or a soldier, playing sports and games such as chase and catch, but how these materialise in different parts is quite amazing. When I watch my grandchildren play in the UK my granddaughter often in role play a mother with her expensive dolls that look like real babies, prams and pushchairs made by the top suppliers of actual baby equipment. My grandson playing on his latest game boxes, ipad and computers having just purchased a game costing more than the tribal people in India earn in a month, and then I compare with the children in India. At no point during my travels throughout the rural areas and tribal villages of Southern, Northern, Eastern or Western India did I see any child with such toys that my grandchildren had access to every day. The only toy I did see was the young boy chasing after a wheel that he was happily pushing with a long stick encouraging it to go faster.
What I did find disturbing during my travels throughout the enchanting rural India, although the youngsters were playing and there were often smiles on their lips these smiles didn’t appear to reach into their eyes or their souls.
Often the children from such areas have to grow out of true childhood sooner than the majority of children in the western World, why? you may ask……..
In the true rural and tribal vicinities the eldest child is often not at school as they have the responsibility of looking after their younger siblings while the parents work in the rice fields, coffee plantations or on the land to put food on the table that evening. In many circumstances they live from day to day. The group of four children where the elder brother and sister were looking after the two younger siblings, this was during school time, they were clearly not receiving education. The amusement on their face as well as curiosity at this western woman with an object hanging from her neck……..my camera. This would no doubt be their highlight of the day. Were these children role-playingat mother and father like our children would be doing with their shiny toys? No this was for real.
We have many concerns regarding health and safety in our western countries, often being questioned by people as to the extreme we now have to practice, yet when I wandered further and deeper into the villages I was at first alarmed at the lack of safety displayed. The unattended toddler surrounded by danger, box of matches, hot ashes and sharp objects within its reach. I reflected on my own child and how I would have been distraught if I or indeed anyone else had put him in such conditions that he could have come to harm. How different cultures react in different geographical zones. It is easy to sit back and criticise unless you know the reasoning behind these actions.
Watching the young boy eating his sweet showing that attitude you would expect from a youngster of his age counteracted this surprise of the child that sat amongst danger. The young tribal girls privileged to attend school proud of her uniform, and one of her peers comforting her younger brother during her lunch break. Only walking a few metres on, I then encounter children either partially dressed or with no clothes at all. All the children inquisitive as to who I were and why I was in their village many following me around to the point I felt like “Pied Piper” with a snake of children behind me, many giggling, some shy, some mischievous……….children.
My next sighting stopped me in my tracks, very young children working, the young girl carrying a metal bowl full of sand on her head, obviously feeling the weight as she struggled along, the small girl helping her mother collect bricks to be transported back to their abode, both children dirty from their chores. Although it was clearly explained the reason why these children need to work I have to confess to this day I find this most disturbing.
Moving out of the tribal villages into places such as Hampi, Mumbai and Darjeeling the children appeared to be more fortunate and attended school on a regular basis. Their attire was often more fashionable with street cred and appearance apparent, especially with the boys modelling their stature decked in sunglasses to attract the admiration of the young girls, nothing new there!
The one thing evidence throughout the whole of India was the closeness of siblings and friends, the way that they looked after each other. Pondering on this statement I do ask myself if this obvious and genuine closeness is due to the lack of materialistic items, giving each child more quality time to spend with loved ones, is the Western World being taken over by technology and encouraging our children to isolate themselves from community and indeed damage their social skills?
As I continue my travels I am sure to deliberate time and time again the question of community and lack of community spirit.
What a paradox of children! Our Future!
“Children are one third of our population and all of our future.”