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The reality of Slumdog Millionaire

Did you see Slumdog Millionaire? I just saw on the news last week that the kid who starred in it had his house in the slums bulldozed. The sad truth is that the movie depicted what is reality for many Indian children. My friend Tom Davis posted a blog the other day, reporting that an estimated 1….
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Did you see Slumdog Millionaire? I just saw on the news last week that the kid who starred in it had his house in the slums bulldozed. The sad truth is that the movie depicted what is reality for many Indian children. My friend Tom Davis posted a blog the other day, reporting that an estimated 1.2 million children in the country have been forced into prostitution.  This MSNBC report spells out the reality on the ground:

MUMBAI, India – City workers bulldozed the
home of a “Slumdog Millionaire” child star Thursday as part of the
demolition of dozens of shanties in a Mumbai slum.

Azharuddin
Mohammed Ismail was asleep when a police officer woke him up and told
him to leave his family’s home, he said. Shortly after that, the shack
and about 30 more were destroyed.

“A police officer took a bamboo stick to hit me, and I was frightened,” said 10-year-old Azhar.

Authorities say his family will be given a new home elsewhere.

Eight
Oscars and $326 million in box office receipts have so far done little
to improve the lives of the film’s two impoverished child stars, Azhar
and Rubina Ali – who were plucked from the slum to star in the
blockbuster.

Lives little changed
They have been showered with gifts and brief bursts of fame, but their day-to-day lives are little changed.

Thursday
morning, city workers flanked by policemen arrived as part of a slum
demolition drive – common in India’s chaotic cities, where officials
struggle to keep crowding under control.

“They
didn’t give prior notice. We didn’t even get a chance to take out our
belongings,” said Shameem Ismail, Azhar’s mother, who has lived in the
shanty town for more than 15 years. She has no legal right to the land.

“I
don’t know what I am going to do,” she said, sitting on a bed she had
dragged from the wreckage. Next to her was a plastic bag stuffed with
belongings.

U.D.
Mistry, an official with the city’s Bombay Municipal Corporation, said
the razing was part of a “pre-monsoon demolition drive.

He said only illegally built shanties – not homes that were legally owned – were bulldozed.

“They were removed. That is the principle,” he said, adding he was not aware that the child star lived in that slum.

Despite the awareness that the film has raised, it seems like the lives of those actually living in those slums have changed very little. Understandably, it makes one feel pretty ineffective. So, what can you do? A lot, actually.

For starters, find out more about India and how you can be praying. Consider sponsoring a child or visiting the country yourself. AIM has sent dozens of teams of college students into India to minister in the slums and leper colonies. You can follow their stories this summer here and here. You can get involved in the Delhi Orphanage called “Hope House.” You can sponsor a native missionary. The possibilities are endless.

 
The statistics can be overwhelming, and on the other side of the world, it’s easy to feel helpless. But there is a lot you can do. Please don’t just do nothing.

Comments (2)

  • Seth,

    My heart continues to break with the things that break God’s heart. You and what you write about is a breath of dark, hot, humid and stenchy air. My heart (and my nose)now longs for those smells of the slums! My heart and body ache to be in those environments – those filthy slums and dump sites.

    How is it that God changes our hearts and our noses?! I continue to cry out for the poor. For those out there that cannot relate, I understand.

    I encourage you to begin asking Jesus to break your heart with the things that break his. He will do it. Just let him.

    Bless you Seth.

    Kenny Sacht
    Boise, Idaho

  • thank you for writing about this! I went to India with AIM on a real life trip in the summer of 07. I just saw slumdog millionaire a couple of weeks ago and my first reaction was “yes, that is what india is really like”. I couldn’t stop telling my parents and friends that I watched it with that the portrayal of the slums and corruption was very true.

    yet thankfully, there is hope in India because of Christ! Asha was one of my favorite places there and it is so true that God is working there! I cannot wait for those children to grow up and be a part of leading their people to God!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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