We see a LOT of terrible things when we are researching in the slums. Like open sewage, everywhere. Flies, goats, pigs and small children eating the same stuff.
Most of the time we just walk through, keep moving toward wherever we are going.
But sometimes, I can't deal.
We see kids playing with all sorts of terrible things - like open sewage lines (like this picture below) or rusty nails, or knives (we saw a 2 year old sucking on the end of a knife the other day)... and so on. There are SO many kids there is no way to intervene with all of them, and even if you do, their parents don't seem to think it is a big deal, so as soon as you leave, they will probably go back to playing with the same things again.
Some of it is cultural. We are definitely paranoid to no end in America, it is true. We over protect, over sanitize, over medicate our kids. Buuuuuuuut - there is an extreme on the other end too, and I'm sorry but a 2 year old running around with a knife in its mouth is simply a disaster waiting to happen.
A few days ago when we were waiting to interview a family, we saw a little kid (probably just over 1 year old) sucking on a shard of broken mirror. I lost it. I just could not stand there. To make it worse, every once in a while he would pull it out of his mouth and wipe his face, running the sharp edge of the mirror only millimeters from his eye. I tried not to look at him, but we kept standing there... and I just could not deal anymore, so I squatted down, smiled and asked him if I could see the mirror. He (thank you Lord) handed it over to me, and I quickly popped it into my purse.
But then his lip started to quiver and his eyes got really big.
And my heart broke.
So I frantically started looking for a replacement toy in my purse.... toilet paper? bottle of purel? sunglasses?
Then I saw a scrap of paper and had and idea.
I quickly folded a paper crane (thank you to whoever taught me that trick), and handed it to him.
His eyes lit up and he scampered off to play with his new toy.