“All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.” Jack Kerouac
#10ThingsIWantToHappen is trending right now on Twitter. People are sharing their dreams. To become a dancer. To find a cure for cancer. To go to London. To be a singer. To make good friends. To meet Justin Bieber. To move house. To kiss her. To provide for my family. To finish my studies.
Last weekend, a friend hosted a screening of the film 58; a collaboration between IJM, Compassion, Food for the Hungry and other organisations that highlights injustice in various forms across the world, and calls for its chains to be broken. There were several stories of hope, and several stories of despair – some that led to hope, others that left the viewer wondering. One that has haunted me all week is that of a 12 year old boy in India…
His family left a place of despair in rural India, where food and drink were ‘mistakes’, not to be expected;
where people “don’t reach their potential before they die”;
where where healthcare and education are distant concepts;
where women and children walk for hours to find natural resources that are quickly disappearing, for something to survive on whilst destrying the heritage of future generations.
The family of 6 left for the city, where they hoped to find employment, education, a future. In order to set themselves up in the city, they took out a loan from a quarry owner, and the whole family set to work, chipping away at a valley of stone. Further loans ensued, and the family is now caught in debt bondage. The father admits that there is no way he will be able to repay it; and the mother vacantly tells the camera that she does “not know happiness”. Their 4 sons, aged between 4 and 12, all work in the quarry. The parents know that the debt will be passed on to them when they are gone.
The boys are interviewed after a day’s work. They are asked what they would ask God for, if he were to come and visit them. The second youngest boy giggles and says “sweets…and a bicycle!” His brothers laugh, amongst them the eldest, a 12 year old whose eyes betray sorrow and hardship far beyond his years.
When he is asked what he would ask God for, he replies, “I do have desires, but my dreams will never come true. So let me not have any dreams at all.”
My heart sank and my eyes flooded. To hear a child, filled with potential and promise ask for his dreams to be taken away, is perhaps the worst sound of slavery. If to be human is to dream, what has happened to this child?
Children are known for their dreams of becoming astronauts, finding blue cows, eating a million chocolate chip cookies. This child has identified his dreams and desires, and faced with the reality of his family’s life of bondage, is asking for them to be taken away. I don’t think they were for sweets, or bicycles, as his innocent brother might have clung to. I think he probably just wanted to breathe, to make choices, to have a future…to be free.
What will happen to this boy? Will he ever know a dream to be true?
As a ‘grown-up’, I dream all the time. One of my biggest dreams is of freedom for captives.
That 12 year old boy can’t dream, this 24 year old girl will. I’ll dream that he can dream. If it means dreamless or sleepless nights, or some of my smaller dreams being haunted or lost, so be it. And I’ll work towards making our shared dream a reality.
Will you join me?
“I have a dream…let freedom ring.” Martin Luther King