I oftentimes consider what are the best examples or illustrations that enable others to identify with the desperate plight of millions of orphaned and abandoned children around the world. I don’t want to manipulate. I simply want to connect people to the harsh reality.
Statistics serve an important role in conveying the overall need and opportunity, but you have to pry behind the numbers for most people to resonate with the struggle and hope. It takes a careful telling of real stories of real children. Statistics can be overwhelming and unfathomable. But the story of one child trudging through rancid garbage dumps for scraps to eat can effectively relate people to the overall whole. The story of a young girl and her siblings selling themselves on the side of the road serves to illuminate the greater burden.
Those stories do indeed personalize the issue and allow bridges of understanding and compassion to be built. But the human mind typically goes one step further. Questions are seeded that ask, "What if these were my own children?" or "What if I had been born into such circumstances?" and "What if I had then lost my own parents, with nobody left to love and care for me?
Although these might, on the surface, seem like selfish questions to ask, they are really just part of a natural progression as our minds try to come to grips with the tremendous suffering of others. We attempt to place ourselves there. We try to personalize it in order to better understand and interact with it.
There are limitations to this process, though. We may not have children of our own. Or our children may be grown up and are making their own way in this lost and hurting world. In addition, we are often too removed from our own childhoods to effectively imagine and insert ourselves into these realities. It becomes hard or harder to try to associate with the problem by mentally projecting ourselves or our children into it. Time dulls the senses and the ability to answer the questions we ask of ourselves.
But time is also the great equalizer.
For most of us, there will again be a period when we are fully dependent on others; when we again return to a childish state. At that point, we will have to completely rely on the actions and interventions of others. In a sense, we traverse from childhood to childhood.
As the Bard so well put it, we go through stages of life, beginning:
At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And culminating with:
That last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Just as we needed care and support as infants, we will have such dependency in our aged mortality.
Perhaps as we ask the questions, "Who will care for me then?" and "Will there be enough resources to provide for my care?" we can better place ourselves into the present reality of the orphans. We can think of their daily needs of security, sustenance, medical care and love.
They are now…as you will be.
Who will care for them now? Who will provide resources for them now?