Today we travelled to a slum on the outskirts of New Delhi. I was bitten by three mosquitos and stared in awe at the children ... all of the children.
Kids just roam free, fending for themselves. Or in packs, arms draped over each other .. sharing bags of chips and mischief. Often dirty, no shoes, no school.
We met some children today who are part of World Vision's Child Journalist Project. They are extraordinary ... as we walked into the room they all greeted us with such excitement and joy that I started to tear up.
"This form of advocacy is called "child participation" and has been recognised within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as one way children can be heard and protected against abuses of their rights. World Vision is a child-centred organisation, supporting the most vulnerable in participating within their communities and in creating solutions to poverty."
We sat spellbound at the passion, listening to these children's beautiful voices. After a while I realised that even though they live in an underprivileged, poor environment .. they sound so clear, strong and loud. The projects of World Vision have literally given them a voice. They've been busy interviewing their families, shooting short films, full of ideas. They told us all of the wonderful things they had been doing, and the hopes they have for the future.
Child journalist Jyothi says of the project: "People never used to look at us before. After we have been trained as child journalists, our community looks at us with respect and dignity."
Outside were beggers, homeless people, streets littered with rubbish. Inside was hope and ideas and empowerment. A group of girls acted out a skit on gender equality. There's huge cultural shifts happening in this country, with females starting to own their power and not be treated like property. They don't want to be married off. Seeing people realise their worth and strength is just wonderful.
It's so brilliant, so utterly inspiring. The project motto is "My Life is a Story." They asked us so many questions about blogging, how to start one, what blogs can be used for. I was struck by how passive the kids back in the west can be. I guess it's easier to be fired up about something when you have to fight for it.
This is Maya. She proudly told us how she is sponsored by a World Vision child sponsor, and how it impacts her life. She's not outside begging, she's standing in there with us in her red dress, talking about family pets and movies and her health.
We went back into Delhi and Annila from World Vision India took us to the high end of town, to parliament and then the fancy presidential quarters.
It was unbelievable. Armed guards patrolled everywhere, monkeys climbed over the walls, and I'm in INDIA.
Just to recap - today I went from this:
Poor people, rich people, all the people in between.
Reminds me of that saying, "At the end of the game, the pawn and the king go back into the same box."
World Vision Australia on Facebook and twitter. Banners for your blog here.