In Mumbai, you experience a lot of poverty everywhere. It’s a very hard place where we have to confront our darkest and most difficult truths.
Most traffic lights have panhandlers who walk around asking for money. The ones who stand out are the women with babies in their arms. You feel terrible for the children and you give money to those mothers, hoping it would give the child an opportunity at a better life.
Talking with friends and acquaintances who do humanitarian work in this space, I learned that this is just a business. Panhandlers have a “license” to “work” a neighborhood. And a percentage of their revenue goes to the local underworld. Babies get rented out, drugged, and used to increase the earnings by the panhandlers. Often times the babies are abducted. Many times they are hurt and intentionally disfigured and maimed as that means even more collections at the traffic lights.
This made me realize that my actions coming from a moral dilemma of trying to help a child can sometimes be putting more children in danger and not doing much to solve the real problem behind the issue.