I believe that childhood is the most important period in a person’s life. As a child you learn how wealth and poverty are distributed, you learn how to be happy. If you live in a wealthy area and your parents have quite a lot of money, your happiness will depend on what they have given you as a present for your birthday. On the other hand, if you live in a third-world country and your parents have nothing, then your happiness depends on whether you are going to be able to eat that day.
I consider myself from the first group although sometimes I do not like admitting it.
Being humble is difficult even if you try as hard as you can. A story about an Indian girl has made me realise the importance that childhood has in someone’s development. She is my cousin, Tana. My aunt adopted her eight years ago, when she was ten.
To me, she is the most wonderful and amazing person in the whole world. Tana was mistreated and abandoned by her parents in India. She had to live in the street for weeks and suffer from hunger and not having a bed to sleep in. Some nuns found her and took her to their orphanage. Then she was adopted.
During her first years here it was very difficult for her to adapt. She guarded all her food thinking that the next day they wouldn’t feed her any more. She took off her shoes, as she wasn’t adapted to wearing them and she looked for food and clothes in the garbage.
When she had adapted to eating every day, to wearing clean shoes and clothes, to not looking in the garbage and she had learnt my language, Spanish, she explained to me the horrors that she had had to live through. When I heard all that, it made me feel so humble as I imagined how my life could have been if I hadn’t been born in a first world country where my parents love me.
Adolescence is when a person crystallizes their beliefs. Tana had and still has serious problems living through this period in her life. Her past emerged and her life began to be very difficult. The relationship with her parents was very tense and she even told them that they weren’t her real parents, that she hated them and that she would leave as soon as she was eighteen. Besides all these problems, in January 2008 she was confronted by a much more serious problem. She became involved with a guy who was being monitored by the police because he took drugs and took part in a lot of street fights.
One day, her mom left her alone for fifteen minutes in the village where they lived, and when she came back Tana wasn’t there. She had gone with the guy but she told her mom that a friend from school had come to pick her up and had taken her to the nearest town. Her mom phoned her during the afternoon and asked where she was and with who, but at a certain time her mobile phone got “out of coverage or disconnected”. That’s when her mom started to get very worried and asked Tana’s brother and sister if they knew something about where she was or with who. Tana’s brother told his mom who he thought she was with. They phoned the police who immediately raced around to the guy’s house. That night Tana nearly lost her virginity.
The guy is now in a reformatory centre for minors because when he tried raping her, he wasn’t yet eighteen.
When I think of my cousin, I wonder about how lucky she is that she didn’t stay in India. But then I think that if she had stayed there her life would have been much easier and we wouldn’t have suffered as much as we have done. This story about the harsh reality that we live in makes me wonder why some of us are so lucky and have what we need and even more, and other people don’t have clothes to wear nor food to eat.
Through my essay I want to encourage people to help other people, to give beggars a few coins hoping they will spend it on food. My dad says: “First, solve your country’s poverty problems and then continue with the other countries.” I think it is a good way to think, first helping your people and then helping others. But on the other hand I think that in Haiti, Africa or India, they won’t be as lucky and have a thirteen year old girl who would love to help them all and give them as much money as she could.
And the second option is what makes me hope that someday; somehow, I’ll be the founder of the greatest NGO ever created that will help children all around the world.