The young widow limps towards us, eyeing us warily as she brings her child before us for consideration to be included in IMM’s Child Sponsorship program.
We enquire about her leg and we learn that she broke it, but because she had no money for proper medical treatment, it has not healed properly, and she has a permanent bend in her leg which causes her much pain. Corrective surgery is not an option. There is no money.
To put food on the table to feed herself and her child she works as a labourer carrying rocks and bricks building Nepal’s roads. The pain and discomfort take their toll, but she has no options. If she doesn’t work, her family does not eat.
The work comes and goes….in between time, they must make do. There are no other options.
Her husband passed away some eight or nine years ago. We enquire why she has not remarried. She hangs her head and shakes it in resignation. Here she actually has two options – maintain life as it is or get remarried and risk her son being abused by a man who does not want him and insists she abandon him to the elements.
As we travel along dusty and dirty Nepali roads we see so many people with limited or no options.
We meet a nineteen year old girl who has brought her seven year old brother to one of the IMM orphanages for a better life. They come from a family of seven children. Their home is in the mountain area where life is harsh. Food is scarce. Work is almost impossible to find. Three months of the year they are snowed in. Children receive a limited education.
Their father committed suicide because he could not cope. Sadly, this is a common occurrence in this particular region. The sister is crying. The young boy is crying – it is the first time he has seen white people. We are crying.
BUT there is hope.
The young boy will have the opportunity for a better life. He will receive a good education now. He will experience the joy of life – playing in the street with other children, having enough food to eat. We know in time he will adjust to his new surrounds and he will thrive. But for today, his pain is raw and real.
In the remote areas of Nepal we see so many children with limited opportunities to receive an education. We see families with few opportunities to rise up from the poverty that enslaves them – minimal opportunities to secure a better life for their family and their children. Certainly no opportunities for a holiday on the beach with their feet up, shooting the breeze, relaxing after a stressful year.
In the west, we have so many options.
What would you like for dinner? So many options.
What doctor would you like to treat you? So many options.
What career path inspires you? So many options.
What type of car would you like to buy? So many options.
Where would you like to go for a holiday? So many options.
In Australia I see a restlessness and lack of direction in many of our youth because the number of options and opportunities open to them is actually overwhelming.
The thing about having options is that they create opportunities. But it also seems to me that with options comes responsibility. A responsibility to make choices that make our world a better place. A responsibility to leave a legacy on the earth that will outlast ourselves. Surely, our plethora of options must be used to help heal the broken, lift the fallen and empower the needy.
Here’s the amazing things about Nepali’s – they do not see their lack of options as an injustice. Fairness is not a concept that consumes them as it does us westerners. It is what it is.
The widow smiles as we tell her we will gladly advocate for her child to receive an IMM education sponsorship. Suddenly, she has options and options can turn into opportunities.
The sister realizes that her brother will have opportunities that she never had. He has options and options can turn into opportunities.
It is the start of new beginnings for both.
Janelle Payne – IMM Administrator & Child Sponsorship Coordinator