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‘Being clever’

My friends Asha, Devendra and myself often talk about the homes and the children who live there. And among volunteers who come over to work with the children this is also hot topic.

Asha and Devendra regularly describe certain children as ‘very clever’. I always thought that they meant him or her to be smart, someone who is able to do well in school. In many cases this is true. In Nepal you would call a kid like that is ‘a very smart kid’. What they meant by using the description ‘very clever’ is something completely different.

The first is as described above. Bright and clear. The second one is slightly less positive and has something calculating, even manipulative, which makes it a much less attractive feature. Then you talking about the art of playing people who come to help them in order to take advantage of them for their own benefit. Some children know exactly which buttons to push by which volunteers.

This behaviour is probably a consequence of living in a children’s home. In fact they get hospitalised  accustomed to getting help and to foreign volunteers that come to work with ‘pitiful children’. And they use them to get what they want by playing on their emotions.

4SmilingFaces works with two children’s homes: the DRC Nepal and the Child Home Centre. And in this area there is a big difference between the two of them.

In the DRC, they receive much help from outside. Not only from crazy foreigners like me, but also of Nepalese people who have done well in life. The children are always taught that that support is special. That they can’t count on it that there will be outside support always. That someday it will be less or even stop completely.  That in the meantime they need to learn to be independent and self reliant and take good care of themselves and others. That they are responsible for their own happiness and take pride in who they are, complete with lame leg, burn scar, wheelchair or curved back.

In the Child Home Centre there unfortunately is no attention to these issues. I know why that is the case, but can’t or will not explain them here because otherwise I hurt people and I do not want to do that. But take my word for it that the leaders of this organisation mean well. But sometimes good intentions alone are just not enough.

A man is obviously a product of the genes that he/she inherits at birth AND his/her upbringing. And some children in both homes have experienced unspeakable suffering for a short or long time. That of course leaves its marks with which they have to deal for the rest of their lives. If they are not helped with this, they can develop this manipulative behaviour.

This is exactly why I initially was reluctant to help individual cases. If you are here more often, you develop a kind of gut feeling for who is authentic and who is playing you like a high quality guitar. You can feel it in your water.