By Volunteer Shritama Sarkar, FHI Bangalore
It’s 10.45 at night. I’m having dinner with my family, all our eyes glued to the television screen and our ears deeply listening to each word of the news. After dinner, my father tells me to sleep in time as I have a Zoom class in the morning. College is shut so teachers are trying their best to deliver learning through online classes. Markets are open for a specific duration each day so we are trying to keep groceries in stock. Hard times, right?
Not really, I am a kid of one of those “privileged” families in a world where poverty is the biggest misfortune. The most affected are those underprivileged kids whose fathers, mothers and maybe them too have made these plates I’m eating on, made this house I’m living in and yet they are the ones who are today deprived of food, sanitation and education.
This pandemic might not directly affect children but it’s going to alter their lives, their future.
Online learning is not accessible and viable for all. For them it’s a loss of so much of learning therefore adding on to the existing learning crisis. And that learning includes so much apart from textbooks but life and social skills, awareness about issues, etc. These kids are the most vulnerable to receive misinformation which might create fear and anxiety in their minds.
It’s going to be long before the schools are going to reopen physically and this long gap might even lose kids’ interest for education. Loss of interest would be the biggest damage. Many poor families in such times get desperate out of hunger and put their children to work, get their daughters married to reduce their burden. Child abuse, sexual assaults and unwanted teenage pregnancies are the most prevalent in these times. It’s so sad but the harsh truth is that I don’t know if I should feel pity for their desperation or for the abuse the innocent kids suffer.
At such an early age, the poor kids witness empty plates at dinner time, lunch time as if these names exist anymore for them who are dying for one meal. Some are seeing their parents go out to work in this time of crisis and when they come back, they see the fear in their parent’s eyes before touching them. Some are seeing their parents getting unemployed. They’re in the state of misery and hopelessness. This harsh situation would affect the kids’ mental health greatly.
But what’s the good news here? Fortunately, we privileged kids are aware. A lot of us are feeding the underprivileged. Isn’t this pandemic like a reality check? It tells about so many things, the inequality in society, in the education system. Now it’s on us to see what we do to reduce the negative impacts of the situation. Let’s hope the world learns the lessons from this great story of realisation.