Tuesday, May 31, 2005


What do you want to be when you grow up?

We have worked with three groups of children during our time in India- the upper middle class, slum children, and street children. With each group we asked them to draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up. The upper middle class children had dreams similar to the middle class in the United States- astronaut, doctor, fashion designer, cartoonist, engineer, or soccer player. I was surprised to find that the slum children had similar aspirations. Many of them want to be doctors, teachers, and pilots (this was popular amongst the small boys who tend to copy off of each other). Other occupations listed were dancer, actress, banker, electrician, computer engineer, and hockey player. None of them said they wanted to be construction workers, truck drivers, or domestic workers like their parents. These children are given much love and encouragement at Sukrupa. I wonder how much their dreams have been influenced this.

The street boys at Bosco had more modest dreams. Many of them drew themselves as bus or auto drivers. A vegetable store owner, Police, Carpenter, and Cricket or Hockey Player were other occupations that the street boys dream of. Several of them want to be doctors which seems to be a popular dream amongst children of all economic levels, but it certainly is not as easily attained for them all. One of the boys at Bosco drew that he wanted to be a doctor, but crossed it out after he was told it was impossible because he has never gone to school.

Yesterday at Bosco we met a boy who spoke English well enough to tell us his story and how he ended up on the street and at Bosco. He ran away from home after working as a weaver for a year and a half never having one day off. He said he had to wake up every day at 4:00 am and work until night with only one break for lunch. He didn't want to work because he wanted to go to school and study to become an engineer. He spent three days on the street before being taken to Bosco to live. Now he is in the eighth standard and doing very well in school.

So what do you want to be when you grow up? Jonathan and I were hoping we could encourage the children to dream higher than they may be encouraged to do so. We were surprised to find that many of the children already dreamt much higher than their parents' jobs.

As we have asked all of these children what they want to be, Jonathan and I are realizing that it is a relevant question for ourselves as we both have recently graduated. We have our degrees and we are asking ourselves if that is really what we want to do and what else we are capable of. Just like the children, I think I need to dream bigger than I expect of myself.

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