“We are the world. We are the Children”


Ashreya Duvuru

When I was five years old I met a girl called Saranya. She was the coolest, most fun girl I had ever met. She loved to play at the red tire swing and was an expert runner—she put all the boys to shame. We both loved our sweets and used our pleading eyes to persuade our mothers to let us eat just one more toffee. She was a comrade, an amigo every step of the way. Saranya had a passion for life. You could tell by the way her eyes lit up, even when the nurse said those strange words “Saranya, its time for your chemo injection.”

As I grew older, I began to understand the disparities between my life and that of Saranya’s. I belonged to the upper-middle class in India. We lived a very comfortable life, with a house of our own and a few maids. I cannot remember a single day in my childhood that I did not get what I wanted- the candy bars, the new Barbie doll, the huge-almost-life-size Tweety bird-- it might even be fair to say that I was a little bit of a brat. Saranya on the other hand had been homeless for most of her life. Her mother sold idlis and iddayapam on the side of the road to try to make enough money to educate her daughter. Saranya’s father, however, was a raging alcoholic who frequently beat up his wife and stole all the money she had made for the day. As a result, Saranya and her mum were left hungry, poor and uneducated. When she was four, Saranya was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with having leukaemia. Her helpless mother was at a breaking point when my parents found her. They had taken Saranya to a non-profit pediatric cancer ward, and ensured that she was provided with sufficient nutrition and medical treatment. As Saranya grew stronger, her gratitude to life became something which was remarkably advanced in age and thought. She had been the lucky one. There were so many others that hadn’t been as lucky as her. Who cared if she had cancer? She had been given a shot at life! My comrade, my amigo— she had seen a lot more in her five years than Barbie dolls and Tweety birds. Saranya had figured out that the meaning of her life was to simply just live.

I no longer have any contact with Saranya. I have no idea if she’s still alive and well. After I moved away from India, the monthly updates stopped coming as I had moved on to “bigger and greater” things such as trying fish and chips for the first time. Although I didn’t know her for very long, I do remember her beaming smile. (I don’t even mean to sound cliché—this girl had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on anyone!)

The reason I bring up my childhood is because I know there are a lot of Saranyas out there in this world. Having seen it first-hand, I know for a fact that taking initiative can change lives. All it took was for my parents to take Saranya to a ward, and give her about $25 a month (less than a dollar a day!). I respect them so much for giving her that chance at life.

Sitting here in front of our laptops and computers, we possess the same ability to better the life of a child. I could walk into Auckland city, and find people needing a dollar or two-- and I live in New Zealand! I’m not saying that we must all sponsor a child, but rather that we should care more about people. Do what you can in your little way. If you live in a country where there is a lot of poverty, you could do something similar to what my parents did for Saranya. You could even give the homeless man a dollar when you stroll down the sidewalk. Whatever it is, we must remember that we have one world and one life; it’s up to us to make that one world and one life the best we can.

My memory of Saranya is my drive to change the world, and I guess this blog is just my attempt at encouraging you to find your drive. Michael Jackson sang it folks—“We are the world, we are the children. We are the ones who make a better place so just start giving.”

Links you might be interested in:

"We are the World” 25 for Haiti

UNICEF Global Parents

Become a UNICEF Fundraising Champion

Meet the UNICEF Year of Youth Ambassadors

By Ashreya Duvuru

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