I have never seen the truly poor until today. Growing up rather sheltered in a country environment protected me from the harsh realities that many face every day. Shane and I covered a program for inner-city kids today, a truly amazing program that allows the children a chance to escape into a world of song, dance, and laughter with a solid Christian foundation.
The children were ecstatic, jumping and dancing, laughing and singing. They didn't see the dirty, torn pants, the worn out shoes or the threadbare t-shirts in the crowd. The hunger in their tiny tummies was a part of life; the pizza they were served at the end was an enormous treat. The drug bust up the street was just part of the scenery, the cops blended right into the dilapidated houses.
One child was brought to me, a tiny little boy with big, soulful eyes. He avoided eye contact, just mumbled the he didn't feel well and asked for a drink of water. I crouched to his level and started to talk to him, finding out that he hadn't eaten anything all day. Probably nothing since yesterday morning, one of the program volunteers told me later. She said they always feed the children because they simply can't send them home hungry. I almost cried at this. No child should go hungry, no beautiful little child should be that sad or see that much. I have such a good life, I am truly blessed. I don't have any right in the world to bemoan my strict student budget, I have a warm, clean, comfortable house, every meal I need and endless peace, love and security. I watched the kids happily file out at the end of the day, seriously fighting back tears. Who knows what kind of homes these children are returning to, where their next meal will come from or how long they can sustain those innocent smiles.
Right in my backyard, there are children in need of such help. I have never truly seen poverty until I looked at those faces today. I have learned the statistics in my sanitary, impersonal classrooms; about how this neighbourhood is one of the 10 poorest in Canada and 1 in 3 children in this city live below the poverty line. These were only statistics until I saw them in the faces of the children today. Now they are big brown eyes, impish grins, scraped knees and shy glances. I can't get them out of my head. I don't want to get them out of my head.