Just about 5 months ago I met a boy without a dream. It was such a strange experience for me to ask this grade school boy what he wanted to be, and he gave me “the deer in the headlights” look. At first, I thought he did not understand my question, after all he spoke Hindi, but the translator assured me that the question was understood. I sat on the only bed in his small home made of tarps, sticks and dung, looking around at the few things this family had. I remember how hot it was on that day. Temperatures were soaring above 110 degrees in this rural community outside of the city of Kalcota, India. We had traveled to this community to visit a Compassion project. A small group of us went to this young boy’s home because he had recently been sponsored through Compassion.
Needless to say, I was not happy with this boy’s answer. After all, I was trying to show this small group of people from America how great Compassion is and that Compassion brings hope to children. This boy wasn’t cooperating with my plan.
I asked him again, “Tell me what you want to be in your life, do you want to be a teacher, a doctor, a soccer player? What do you dream of doing with your life?”
Again, the boy just stared. No smile, no emotion, he just looked at us as if we were from another planet.
So then, I asked his parents, “What do you dream for your boy?”
The parents of this boy did not have an answer. They just gave me a polite smile, the kind you give when you don’t know what to say.
This morning I drove my two oldest daughters to school. Jibber jabber all the way. My middle daughter was going to jazz band for the first time and my older daughter suggested that one day they should start a rock band. They joked a bit and dreamed up what this band would look like. My middle daughter said with great confidence and conviction, “In my day job I will be a math teacher but at night, I will drum.”
I smiled and suggested the band look kind of like the Partridge family with Dad on bass, Mom on keys, Julia and Isabel guitars and Grace on drums. We all laughed as we dreamed up what this could look like.
I dropped my kids off, and as I drove home I remembered the boy without a dream. I was sad. I don’t know what reminded me of him, but I started thinking about how empty I felt in the home of that little boy. No dream.
Well, the story does not end there. I later asked the Compassion project workers about this boy and his family. They explained to me that in many parts of India, where there is extreme poverty, children never learn to dream. Culturally, in the lower cast system, one believes they are worthless and unworthy of good things. Also, because so many children die before the age of 5 in impoverished areas, parents often won’t even name their children, let alone teach them to dream. I guess it’s kind of like you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. No use in dreaming because it’s all Karma. It’s hard for me to understand this thinking, because in America we are all taught to dream.
But then…..the Compassion worker explained that at this project they teach the kids to dream. They actually reinforce this concept of dreaming and having goals, pursuing education and changing the cycle of poverty. They teach about a hope found in a God who loves His people. A God of comfort and a God who has given each of us gifts, a God who does not see skin color or distinguishes between upper and lower class, a God who cares about our desires and our dreams. The project workers told me in a couple years this boy will learn to dream and Compassion will help him achieve his dream. This was good news to me.
So today, I was reminded to pray for this little guy and to give thanks to God for caring about my children’s dreams, my dreams and the dreams of the little boy in India.
For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29: 11
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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