One morning I turned the news on TV to find a segment about poverty in the Philippines. I watched even if though I about already knew it. But as it turned out, I didn’t know things had gotten even worse.
The segment showed families going through rubbish, looking for food. I know this isn’t new but these people were looking for meat rubbish – you know, the bits we chop off and throw in the bin? Like innards, meat bones and fish bits. The woman said she was going to wash it. They showed her washing the meat and putting it in a wok, and feeding it to the kids.
I couldn’t help but let out an “Oh my god”, enough for my daughter to notice the distress in my voice.
She asked why I was worried.
For a moment, I battled whether or not to introduce the ugly things in life to my little angel whose only issue is whether or not she could play Minecraft all day.
I decided to tell her.
I told her that there are kids in the Philippines who don’t have homes, who don’t have much to eat, or anything to eat at all, who don’t have toys or parents who love them.
“The Philippines we went to where your mum and your dad live?” was her little question.
“Maybe we should give them clothes, and toys and food,” she said.
I held in tears because those words were so familiar. I used to say that when I was around her age. I’d imagine growing up, having a great job, being so rich that I could adopt a couple of those kids and give them a better life.
I gave my little one a cuddle. Even though she was battling a fever, she still wanted to help other kids she didn’t even know.
My heart felt like it was going to burst. I was so proud of my little one. I never held the truth back from her. When we visited the Philippines again, she saw a boy just her age selling bread on the street.
“Where are his parents? Why is he walking around alone?” she asked.
“He doesn’t have any parents. He sells bread to have some money so he can help his family.”
“Does he go to school?”
“It doesn’t seem like he does because it’s supposed to be a school day today.”
My daughter paused, still staring at the little boy. She looked up at me.
“Will you put me to work too?”
“No baby, I won’t.”
Although she smiled and was relieved to know that she won’t be selling bread in the streets, I could see her sneaking glimpses at the little boy further away.
I don’t hide poverty from my daughter. I never will. Hopefully, this will help her become a more compassionate adult when she grows up.