I have been seeing a very disturbing trend on social media these days, and felt the need to write about it urgently. One of my facebook friends recently posted his son’s birthday pictures. Nothing wrong with this indeed. It is a personal choice to keep children on our social media pages or to keep them away from it. But what was disturbing was that he had celebrated his kid’s second birthday in an orphanage and the pictures of the celebration left me slightly perturbed. There were pictures of the kid in a cute new tuxedo, the parents wore bright new clothes too as they stood at what seemed to be a beautiful green garden in front of a house that had a placard “Sishu Anathalaya” (Children’s Orphanage). The album had more pictures of these brightly dressed people with the children of the orphanage in very simple clothes. There was a video of a three tier cake being cut by the parents and the kid with all the other children singing the “happy birthday” song. This did not happen for the first time, I have seen more acquaintances and friends celebrating their own or their kids’ birthdays in orphanages and later uploading the pictures on social media.
There is plenty wrong, or rather injustice that speaks out loud about this trend. The celebration of birthdays in orphanages is outrightly thoughtless on humanitarian grounds. Most of the children do not even know their birthdays. I remember when I used to volunteer for a public action group that worked for the underprivileged, I came across several children who did not even know what a birthday was, some of them did not know who their parents were. Isn’t it inhuman to go to an orphanage and celebrate a privileged child’s birthday and shower him or her with love and affection amongst those little children who have not been so fortunate. What about their sentiments? Why do we forget that every kid is special, every kid is lovable and should be loved.
The second aspect of this trend is that what kind of an example is being set for the child whose birthday is celebrated in lavish manner in a orphanage. I have no objection to the lavish manner of celebration indeed but why do it in an orphanage? And if indeed, people care for the orphanage children, why not do something more substantial that will actually help them.
Another aspect that is completely disregarded in this trend is the uploading of pictures on social media. What about the consent of the children of the orphanage? Why should their consent to be exposed on social media be compromised? Social media almost seems to be running much of our lives, but how desperate have we become to portray ourselves as good samaritans on social media!
What should we do?
If people indeed want to bring joy to the children in orphanages, they should donate in money and gifts for children by reaching out to the concerned authorities. If they want they can do it anonymously too. They can sponsor the education of less privileged children for a year or more. They can also send goodies to the children. And if they want to spend some time with the children, they can do so by going in simple clothes. Orphanages and homes should have stricter rules against celebrating birthdays of outsiders, and instead request interested people to donate and support the children. There is no greater joy than in giving and there is nothing greater than a generous heart. But there is also an old proverb that says when you help someone with your right hand, even the left hand should not know that it has helped. Hope we be kinder in life than in pictures. Hope we give more love to all our children.