Lahore, like any other city in this country, and the world at large, is filled to the brim with its beggars, many of them being children
With time we grow immune to the sounds of the beggars begging and the constant knocking on the windows of our cars. We are taught from a young age to look away and pretend we can’t hear them, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re standing outside in the heat or the cold, while we lower our eyes in our vehicles. Lahore, like any other city in this country, and the world at large, is filled to the brim with its beggars, many of them being children.
Every time I yearned to give one of these children a few notes of ten or twenty rupees, any elder beside me warned me not to as my money would do the children no good.
It is a well-known fact that powerful men own most of the beggar children we see on the streets. They purposely disfigure and disable many of these children to help them bring a higher income by making us pity them. Nonetheless, the attitude we have developed towards them and the morals and values that we are now teaching our future generations about the less privileged are horrific.
On one incident, I watched from my car as a boy not older than 12 or 13 years waved around his bag of chips in the face of a small barefoot beggar child, while he sat in the van that would drive him back home from school. The small girl watched with two others as the other boys in the van jeered and laughed at her.
Since when did we start teaching our youth to wave around our privileges in the faces of those less fortunate? Since when did we decide to mock instead of reach out and help?
As the holy month of Ramzan comes to a close, it does not mean we cannot still continue reaching out and making an effort. The smallest of actions can mean a lot in the long run to someone who values things more than many of us.
While we celebrate Eid with sweets and new clothes, the beggar children will still remain in their rags, barefoot walking around the city hoping to earn anything they can. In this sweltering heat, a pair of slippers, or even a cold juice box could turn their entire day around.
Money isn’t the only way to help those in need, and sometimes in situations such as these where the owners are said to take away all the beggars’ hard earned cash, other items may seem to have more value.
What many of us lack these days is appreciation -- for our lives and luxuries, as well as the opportunities we have. We should not need a special month to help others, nor should we feel the need to belittle those who have less than us. Many of us hear stories about how our great grandparents and their forefathers rose from poverty, selling their belongings and land along the way, moving from small villages to small towns and eventually sending their children and grandchildren to major cities, funding their education and lifestyles to give them a luxurious and comfortable life. What about those that are not as lucky, or those that have lost their parents either by death or taken away from their families?
I firmly believe that before our religion, race, colour, status, or age we are all humans and these acts we commit against these small children should be considered as acts against humanity. Therefore, it is our duty as humans to safeguard the rights of these children.
So, the next time you hear that familiar knocking sound on your window, and see those small eyes full of more sadness than many of us will ever know in a lifetime, peek at you under that mess of dirt atop their little heads, don’t turn the other way. Don’t pretend you didn’t just see them and don’t hesitate to reach out and help them in more ways than a ten or twenty rupee note ever could.