Today at 930AM I found myself in the train ride half way through to the other side of the west, opposite from where I stay, heading to Aljunied MRT- which I hated going to because the area makes me uncomfortable (mostly anywhere past bugis on the green line makes me feel terribly far from home) But today was a special day and I was there to watch the Watoto Choir.
Let me tell you my story about Watoto.
Back when I attended Halogen’s National Young Leader’s Day 2012 Event, one of their speakers was Mr Chris Varney who basically began his pursuit in fighting against poverty in his mid twenties and that inspired me because I realised that the inequality in our world was so horrifying.
I don’t have big words or flowery language to describe exactly how it is, but the idea is that the world is extremely extremely unfair and there are children our age who had to be put through traumatic childhoods and terribly scary experiences since birth. They’ve had to worry about very different things and learn to come to terms with feelings that we can’t even cope with today. And the way I saw it, it was unfortunate and almost frightening that we, on the more privileged side of the globe, are becoming so comfortable with the fact that ‘the world is unfair’.
I don’t think that’s a good reason why these children in the developing countries have to be put through all this from birth, they didn’t ask to be born in Uganda for example. They didn’t ask for their parents to abandon them from young nor for their mothers to die from HIV/Aids. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t ask to have to face the odds of dying of before their 5th birthday. Apparently 11 million African children die before their 5th birthday, imagine that. And on our part, our greatest worry is how to make our birthday bash the best and most memorable, we don’t even worry about not living to the next birthday.
So as I started to read about all these inequalities on global non-profit organisation sites like http://www.watoto.com and http://www.worldvision.org/, just skimming through the statistics should bring shivers down your spine. (If they don’t, that just shows how we’re becoming more and more accepting of the fact that ‘the world is unfair’) There is so much we can do, just by forking out $1-2 a month each, my class has supported a 15 year old boy’s education, food and necessities for a year.
I think the beautiful thing about these children is that the very fact that they come from developing countries, such harsh backgrounds with painful memories of their childhoods, they appreciate whatever gives them a grasp of security and support so much more. Every cent that you contribute to them, they are so extremely thankful for; and for they understand that they have to work for everything that they get, and that nothing is free. So whilst being the most appreciative children you may find, they’re also the most down-to-earth.
And last of all, I admire how they love their country so so much. After all that they’ve been through (do go and read about the thousands of threats there are to a child being able to grow up with all his/her rights respected in developing countries from http://www.watoto.org: there’s child labour, child soldiers, sex slaves etc. etc.), none of the blame goes to their country. In fact in Watoto Organisation’s case, by bringing these children into churches and teaching them about faith, their belief in God has taught them to believe in the country they’re in, the people around them and most of all in themselves. I complain about Singapore once in a while- our police force, our public transport, but by doing so, compared to these children who love their country so so much and have been driven to grow up to rebuild their country and be the new generation of leaders that lead Uganda out of poverty, compared to them, I’m so much less.
‘No time’ or ‘don’t know where to start’ is a bad excuse because these children need all the help you can give, every little contribution could change their lives and every minute you waste convincing yourself you don’t have what it takes to help them, they live another minute in the horror of the many dangers they face outside of Watoto’s care, so do give it some thought, if not all the thought you can give and if you have the privilege of contributing to the lives of these littles ones, I’d love to hear your story one day!