In the past days I have been writing about the reactions of non-Indians to India, of our Western guests to the homes of our children and of tourists in general to the poverty of this country. Sometimes we have inquiries of people bringing their children as well and let me tell you something: I think it should be much more often!
I honestly believe it would be the best kind of vacation for your children, one which they will have lots of benefit from. If you have grown up in the west yourself, you probably have difficulties to imagine how living in India is, especially for children, right among those contrasts of rich and poor.
If you have been in a first-world-country for all your life, maybe leaving the first world only for a two-week holiday in summer and even then for a club-resort beach holiday, you may even be scared of taking your children on a holiday to a less developed country. You have heard and read about situations in other parts of the world. You have seen pictures and video reports. But experiencing these countries in reality is very different!
I say it is good to see it, to travel and to experience this all yourself and also show it to your children! You yourself realize how privileged you are – wouldn’t that be something you would wish for you children as well?
Show them how other people live, explain them before, make them curious! Don’t be afraid that it could be too much – children have an astonishing power of understanding and accepting their surrounding! We tend to underestimate this grasping power!
Of course it won’t be the relaxing holiday at the beach but it will be so much more valuable for their lives! They will see what they otherwise only learn from school books or see on TV. They can feel the difference instead of just hearing about it. They will start caring instead of just dismissing it as something that is happening so very far away. It will become near and it will be real for them!
From the experiences that we had with children at the Ashram until today, I can tell you it has always been beneficial, not harming the children in any way!
Of course you can also combine this experience with more of a relaxing holiday – simply add another week at the beach – but please let them see this as well!