This is Ajay and Daniel. They attend one of your schools in northern India, and they were one month away from starvation.
Before March, life was good. Stable. Predictable. Their dad worked as a migrant worker 144 miles from home. He made just enough to keep food on their table and a roof over their heads.
On March 24 India shut down because of the pandemic. Almost instantly, there were no crops to harvest, no one to buy street vendors’ goods, and no way for migrant workers like Ajay and Daniel’s dad to earn a living. Making things worse, all forms of transportation were shut down, leaving their dad no way to get home.
The family was one month away from starving.
Ajay and Daniel’s mom tried her best to keep the children sheltered from their precarious position. But as 9 & 10-year-olds, they noticed the dwindling food supply, and they understood why every grain of rice was carefully rationed.
What the boys didn’t know was that their dad was slowly making his way home. Along with thousands of others, he walked 144 miles for 6 days without food and shelter to reunite with his family. He was overjoyed to see his family, but heartbroken to discover them on the brink of starvation.
Thankfully, this family did not starve!
One of your health workers visited the family and let them know that the boys’ school had become a food distribution center. Eagerly, dad and his sons walked to their school to receive vital food supplies that would keep their family alive and well-nourished. That’s good news all the way around.
There are many places we can find ourselves in this story, aren’t there? For moms, imagine not knowing if your husband was coming home. Imagine going to the pantry and seeing only a week’s supply of rice and wondering how you can make that last a month. Imagine the fear of tomorrow as you kissed each child goodnight.
As a father, imagine the daily sacrifice you made to work hours from home, rarely seeing your family, so they could afford to live. And now imagine that livelihood being stripped away. Of course you would walk home. Nothing would stop you from reuniting with your family. And then, imagine the discouragement that would set in knowing there was no work, no income, and very little food left.
The Wonder of Our Children
Young children are often oblivious to the seriousness of global pandemics and economic downturns. We’re glad for that, aren’t we? They wake up every morning with smiles and giggles believing it’s going to be the best day ever. They still look at the world with wonder and imagination. Ajay and Daniel are old enough to know their parents are worried, but young enough to believe everything will be alright. You know their smiles brought encouragement and life to Mom and Dad. Oh to be like children in these difficult days.
Moms, Dads — It’s been a difficult year. But our children have been resilient. All the children of the world have been resilient. As we approach this holiday season, remember children like Ajay and Daniel. Remember the role you played in making sure their family survived. Remember the peace of mind you can bring to worried moms and discouraged fathers.
We all have a role to play in making the world a better place. Let’s imagine that. Let’s imagine how we can eradicate poverty if we all give just a little more. Let’s imagine the wonder of children and give so that they never know hunger. Let’s give so that nothing can take away their smiles and so that every one of them grows up safe from abuse and systemic discrimination. Let’s give so that every child has access to education where they expand their minds and dream about tomorrow. Let’s give so that our children always wonder about the great possibilities of every new day.
There’s an Ajay and Daniel living near you, and there are millions of them in India.