Each year, my daughter’s class works with a group of kids from one of the slums in Caracas. They usually put on some sort of performance revolving aroubd the arts and the kids get along well. I’ve always considered this to be a good idea because expat kids can be so sheltered from the realities of their host countries, even though they are surrounded by diversity.
This year, my daughter’s teacher suggested that the kids bring a gift for the visitors at the end of the project. Her reasoning: because those kids have nothing. Now, I take issue with that comment.
Yes, these kids may not live in huge homes. They may not have a bunch of clothes that they don’t get around to wearing before they outgrow them. They might not have an excessive amount of toys, or the latest PS3, DSi or whatever latest craze that’s getting people to waste money. But, I don’t believe that they have nothing.
I think they come from homes very similar to that of any other kid. Maybe two parents, maybe one. Most likely a myriad of extended family who are helping to raise them. Friends to play with who look and act a lot like them.
This whole thing got me wondering about when I would consider someone as having nothing. The first thought was those hit by natural disasters. But then, after remembering the images of Katrina victims, the 2004 tsunami or even the 2011 Japanese earthquake, in none of those circumstances would I classify people as having nothing. I mean the word has a finality to it that I can’t apply unless I’m referring to extremely dire situations.
Point is, I told my daughter about all things those kids do have and how nice it was to give them a gift because of the effort they made to come all the way to her school to get to know her. I hope that’s the version that sticks.