Lately we have realised that a great many people are quite uninformed or unaware of the conditions that exist within India.
We tried to capture the scene which has remained essentially the same since we first met little Adia in this spot - to show veiwers what Adia's life is like on a day-to-day basis, and to raise awareness of the nature of poverty in Hyderabad. Around the tragic form of Adia's emaciated body, you see the prosperous downtown district and its bustling citizens side-stepping the small child as they go along their way.
I think we helped them make some money, though - a few people tossed Adia's family some coins when they realised we were filming!
The next clip is of Adia eating a bit of iddly. The doctor recommended this sort of food as easy to digest and good for getting her body ready to handle solids again. She can only have a tiny bit at a time - but I think she enjoyed it!
We hope to continue taking footage of Adia throughout her recovery, and with the help of some friends, edit it into a short film to raise awareness about the plight of Adia and children like her - as well as educate others about the nature of poverty in what is known as a 'third world' country.
Having spent most of my young life planning to travel abroad and venturing out as soon as I was able, I felt myself prepared for anything. I was nonetheless shocked at the magnitude of the poverty I encountered as well as the uncomfortable juxtaposition of a very unbalanced distribution of wealth. Lately someone told me that they simply cannot believe that Hyderabad has the sort of poverty of which I speak, and cited the call centers, the booming technology industry, and the like as proof of its universal affluence. My explanations are sometimes not understood simply because people do not wish to face such a harsh reality.
I do not want to be a harbinger of gloom, but the very sad truth is that most every Indian city, though it may have sleek buildings and fabulously wealthy individuals, also has an immense and teeming underbelly of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. The caste system, of course, bears a large part of the blame for this - but I also believe that the way people treat beggars and the poor in India, and around the world, is a great detriment.
I was recently told that everyone knows you should only give a begger a coin while you're getting into a car, so they can't mob you. It is true, I am sometimes swarmed by dozens of outstreached hands with pleas of 'maa!' and beseeching looks in their eyes. It has perhaps impeded my daily strolls on occasion, but it has surely never spoiled my day, nor emptied my pocketbook to render help to all.
This help is not always monetary. I would find it degrading to toss a coin at someone while I scampered into a car - I do not have one - and strive to always attempt to communicate with the person to whom I'm giving, to make them feel that I consider them an equal and do not resent them just because their social status may incidentally be considered lowlier than my own. On many occasions I have found that, more than money, someone needs a favour done for them - to watch their child while they perform a job, to help them fill out paperwork to be seen at the clinic, to help them find a way to sell their handicrafts at a fair market price - or just to have a conversation. To give to someone only out of a sense of obligation is to demean them as people while simply making oneself feel less guilt.
I think this is a great problem which must be addressed - the way we who are priviledged enough to enjoy ease in our material lives behold and interact with those who struggle. I would implore everyone who reads this to strike up a conversation with the next 'lower-class' person you meet - you may be surprised at the wealth they have inside of them! Only when we begin to regard the impovrished masses as people, as individuals with worth and merits, will we be able to effect true change.