“I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody (to no one).” ~Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
It makes sense then that the orphans of India are found in groups… at least they matter to one another.
When asked by Word Films to review this new movie, Mother India, Through the Eyes of the Orphan, I watched the trailer first (click here to view for yourself), even though I knew by the title that I couldn’t refuse. My soul will never shake the dust of India, although it’s been over twenty-five years since I lived there.
I never realized just how difficult and emotionally draining it would be to write a review on this movie. Yesterday I wrote an entire post only to be kicked off my wi-fi and lose an hour’s worth of work. Not just any hour, though. The reality of this film is hard to stomach and going back to it now makes me want to hurl.
Therefore, in this post I’m just going to throw out the facts and allow them to do the speaking:
1) By 2025 India is projected to surpass China as the most populated nation in the world. Currently there are 3 million orphans. That number will only grow as the population increases.
2) The orphans often survive in groups creating pseudo-families with one another. The creators of this film, in a quest to understand the Indian orphans’ reality and live among them for two weeks, discovered a “family” of 25 kids. They didn’t have to go far once hopping off their train because orphans will often live by train stations where they can beg from wealthy travelers and tourists.
3) Many beggars are maimed. They have amputated legs, arms and fingers either through accidental run-ins with trains or often times intentional. One girl tells of how a boy forced her to put her hand under a passing train, losing two fingers. She is now a more effective beggar. I think back on yesterday’s post about finding the “one” thing that we have and then allowing God to multiply… for the orphans the “one thing” is often a missing limb. It is the first thing they want to show people. That is what identifies them.
4) Maiming can also be caused by parents in an attempt to send their own children out to beg. Statistics reveal that 2 out of 3 children under the age of 18 are physically abused–88% within their own homes. Few are ever reported.
5) These parents don’t just abuse, they torture! One boy explains his eventual escape from home. He could no longer endure the beatings and torture… “They would beat me and burn me with a hot metal rod.”
6) The beatings don’t necessarily stop once away from home. The children hide themselves under blankets at night to avoid mosquitoes, but also the police and train workers who beat them and steal the little money they made begging (they get a few rupees a day–250 rupees=$5).
7) The money that isn’t stolen is spent on food and substances like tobacco and bottles of white-out which is poured in a rag and held to the nose and mouth then sucked/sniffed for a high. Many children already have HIV from shooting used needles into their arm with a clear liquid they can’t even identify. Why? One boy answers best, “To forget the sadness of my home.”
There you have it. The facts.
Most people will scan, click off and hurry to get Johnny signed up for summer soccer camp. I don’t judge that, I identify. These facts are much too big to digest. I’ve seen these kids first hand and I am still struggling to get one fact past my mouth and into the core of my stomach. I’d rather run off to Starbucks, swallow down robust warmth and move on.
But Mother India is not finished with me. This film has changed me somewhere deeper than I have yet dared to go.
I will be revisiting the images of these children who seem to pierce through my vision most unexpectedly throughout the day. India has never left me. The opening of this movie says this: “The eyes of another… Look into those eyes– past class and religion. You’ll see their joy and their suffering. You’ll see some of yourself.” The “One thing” I do have is a history with India (the whole story in my book, awaiting publication). I’ll be asking God how He might want to multiply that in the weeks to come. I will be coming back to this…
What can you do?
What I’m asking you to do is like suggesting we buy a pizza on Friday night and watch Schindler’s List for the fun of it! Not the most popular call to action and I won’t cookie coat this film–it’s difficult. For those of you brave enough to face a reality we’d rather ignore, you can find the film here on Amazon or you can leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a free copy. You can also send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or share/retweet on Facebook or Twitter to enter your name in the drawing.
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)