To love, not to pity!
I will never forget an experience that happened a few years ago while I was attending a scholarship fundraising event for scavengers’ children in one area of Jakarta. During the event, I was sitting next to a child who was one of the beneficiaries – let’s call her Rara. Rara asked me two questions. I could easily answer the first one, but the second one made me pensive.
She asked me, “Kak, why are these people (the donors) willing to help us?”
I replied, “Because they believe that you will live better if you get an opportunity for an education.”
She asked again, “How can I repay them?”
The last question made me silent for a second. I did not expect it.
I finally answered her, “This is how. You study hard until you graduate, and then get a job. It will be your turn to help other kids get into school. Pay it forward.”
And then the girl said: “I want to repay their kindness.”
I was silent again, this time with a smile. At this time, Rara has almost completed her education in Senior High School.
Currently there are hundreds of people registered as volunteers in Sahabat Anak. They come from various different backgrounds in terms of education, age, occupation, ethnicity, race, religion, etc. They also have various different roles: teacher, medical assistance, event organizer, fundraiser, and many more. One thing that they have in common is: they have come to be a FRIEND for the marginalized children, especially street children.
Being a friend means there is an attachment and emotional closeness between each other, willing to share lives, be there when needed, be present with sincerity, and realise the equality between each other. A friend would not come as a superior who feels higher than the other. A friend would not make a profit for themselves. This is the kind of friendship value which has been built within Sahabat Anak.
The question is: how do the volunteers can be friends of the children whose ages and live patterns are different than theirs? The key is LOVE. The volunteers must see the children as those who needed to be loved, NOT pitied. If we approach with pity, we will only see weaknesses on those children. But, when we come with love, we will see the potential that they have, a belief that those children will someday shine when they are given opportunities.
Let’s change our paradigm. Never again look at street children with pity. We will only make them as the receivers. Look at them with love, therefore we will invite them to strive together for a better life.
Let’s recall Rara. Friendship had drawn Rara from a street life to a school bench. Friendship is also able to bring other children – who, 10 years ago, were begging, singing around the traffic lights, or sniffing adhesives – to get into college, or work in a company, or even run their own business. These grown-up children will continue to pass on the values to the next generation, so the goodness will continue to live on uninterrupted. When this happens, remember it is because of love, not pity.
Dian Novita Elfrida