Do you ever imagine what it would be like to be a parent? I did sometimes, before I came to India. I would see myself in happy times carrying a mini-me on my shoulders. Or it would be the opposite. It would be a moment of total fear in an airplane filled with crying little brats.
The moment we arrived here, there was no more choice; for the next five months we became parents of 37 kids. We take care of them together with 12 amazing students who give up part of their youth to help out at the project. In return their college fees are paid which will enable them to take care of their parents in the future.
These students come from poor but hard working families. These families are nothing like the begging families the children come from, but still the focus is mainly on surviving Instead of living. Love will be there, but is never expressed in the same ways as European families treat their loved ones. A hug seems rare in this layer of society and future plans are not a priority.
In the past few months these kids became our kids and – yet very rewarding or food for the soul as some might say – that is the toughest part of our job as a volunteer. The more attached you become, the harder it gets to see how they get treated by their “real” parents. The harder it gets to witness that – even though these kids know that staying at the project is their one and only chance on a decent life in future – they all hope to be reunited with their parents one day. That “picture perfect” is far from ideal and most of them easily come back to us after a few days of begging and getting beaten.
Still, as soon as their parents walk on to the project, no student or volunteer is good enough anymore. Their eyes sparkle and are filled with hope. Only to come back after a few days filled with tears and shame.
How can we ever convince these kids that it is better to let go of the only family they have. That their parents are alcoholic bastards that prefer begging over working and drinking over caring. Sometimes I think they don’t even need to be convinced. These kids know. But love them anyway.