For the majority of you that know me realize that this title is indeed true. I may be Senior in college, but I'm still a kid a heart, and sometimes at mind. Before I further discuss how childish I am, I should begin by saying that I am currently in Dharmasala, or to be even more specific Mcleod Ganj. This is primarily a large Tibetan community that has fled from Chinese occupied Tibet and made their homes in the picturesque foothills of the Himalayas.
Over the past two days Dr. Maher has taken the group to a children's hostel that is run by an organization called Tong Len. The main purpose of this organization is to help poor and impoverished children get a great education and help them break out of the cycle of poverty that they and their family have been living. I've been seeing poor, sick, and impoverished people throughout our entire trip and of course they come up to each member of the group begging for money, but if you really think about it, what good will giving a kid 10 rupees one day do for them? All that may occur is that they will then continue begging hoping that some other random tourist will take pity on them and give them more money, it doesn't help save the children from poverty in any way shape or form. In fact, the more I thought about the idea of giving money to begging children the more I realized that the people that give them money are only further strengthening the cycle of poverty in India. This is why I believe that Tong Len is such an important organization, it is giving these poor children, that maybe just days ago that were begging on the street, the chance to learn, get a quality education, and actually raise themselves and their families from this cycle of poverty. Just today as we walked through the slums nearby Dharmasala, we were introduced to a kid very close to our age that grew up in poverty, but thanks to this organization is now working toward getting an engineering degree.
Sometimes what people, especially children, in poverty need is not money, food, or clothing (though those things are important) what they really need is a chance, a chance to apply the knowledge and skill they possess. Simply because a person is poor or in a situation where their family can't provide for them should not be seen as a deterrent for growth. If there is anything that I have learned on this trip is that everyone, regardless of who you are or where you come from, has the opportunity to achieve some type of growth whether that be mental, social, or even religious. I know for a fact that there are thousands of kids all over India living in poverty; however, if we can give those children a chance, who is not to say that one of them may discover the cure for cancer or be the next Einstein?
Now back to why I am a 4 year old. As I mentioned before Dr. Maher took the group to Tong Len Children's hostel where many of these kids that have been given a chance are living. These kids range anywhere from the age of 4 to 16 or 17 years old, now I have been itching to play some sports all trip long and boy did I get my chance and soon afterwards I regretted it. Karina and Leela bought some soccer balls to give to the children to play with and as soon as the balls were seen there was an immediate rush to play soccer. Now playing soccer in India is kinda like playing soccer anywhere else unorganized, no one plays in goal, no one wants to play defender, no one wants to really pass, and everyone wants to score. So we split up teams with Me, my new friend Vijay from the hostel, and a couple of the younger kids (who I didn't even think were 10 years old), and boy did we have a game going. I'm pretty sure I played for at least 2 hours and by the end I was pretty much ready to die; however, none of the kids I was playing with were ready to quit. I was panting, drenched in sweat, searching for water, crawling to find a nice cool spot and these kids were just ready to go to next game, I swear if I had as much energy as these kids did I would be so much more productive. Eventually I managed to get out of playing soccer only for a ton of little kids to start jumping on my back and start asking for piggy back rides, which I couldn't help but give.
Though I've seen many beautiful places and sites all over North India, I think quite possibly the greatest sight was just seeing a smile on all these kids faces. Sure I was tired as hell, sure I thought I was going to die, and sure I had a hard fall or two playing with the kids, but I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. Playing with these kids reminded me so much of how I was as a kid; sure I was a little on the chubby side, but I sure as hell loved playing sports and I hated stopping for anything. Seeing the joy that our group brought these children was definitely the highlight of this trip and I know for a fact that I will miss these kids when I leave India.
Sorry that end kinda seemed a little sappy and it was a little long now that I look at it, but I really do hope that you guys are enjoying not just my blog posts but the entire groups and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has read my posts so far.