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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The harsh reality or too much too soon?

Interesting conversation in our car on the way to school today.  Every school day we go the same route, passing many of the same faces every day.  There is one gentleman who we always take note of.  The sad state of affairs is that he must live on the street as he is usually asleep on his motorbike with a rickety old cyclo storing all of his belongings.  I try not to dodge around and sugar coat the questions that the kids invariably ask about him.  Telling them more or less the harsh realities so they can see how lucky they are and start to think about ways they can help people less fortunate than themselves.  Mr Hai must certainly listen to these conversations and I have no idea of his opinions on the matter....until this morning.

We have not seen this man for a month or so now and the kids naturally asked;
Mr Hai, where has the man gone?

Mr Hai responds with;
He's probably dead.

Not a hint of humour or emotion.  My jaw just dropped and I had to ask him again what he had just said.  He confirmed his opinion in the matter that they guy had probably died.  I protested that perhaps this harsh reality was a bit much for a 4 and a 6 year old to take in at 7.30 on a Thursday morning.  He shook his head and said "They need to know that they are lucky to go to school and they need to listen and learn.  If they don't listen they won't learn.  If they don't learn they won't get a job and they will have no money for food and they will die."

Well this kind of left me speechless.  I mean how can you argue with that.  It is moments like that one where the cultural gap between our two countries has never been wider.  Who is right and who is wrong? Is ANYONE right or wrong?  I certainly don't hide the harsh realities of life here from the kids.  It is impossible to as it is out there for us all to see each and every day.  In fact, in my opinion, when some of the awful things you see here stop concerning or affecting you then it is time to go.  I do however think that that little bit of information might be a bit much for my two.  They did not seem to react at all so maybe it was just a bit much for me.  Perhaps a part of me just does not want to delve any further into the stories of some of the people we see.  If I delve they become all too real.  And my heart breaks.  Not quite sure who learnt a lesson this morning.  I do know that each morning I will be scanning the footpath in the hope that Mr Hai was wrong.  I fear however, he may be right...about a lot of things.


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