K. P. Yohannan on Millions of Children Around the World Are on the ‘Unwanted’ List This Christmas

Children of Dalits stand inside a broken house on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Lucknow January 16, 2008. An hour’s drive from the palatial headquarters of India’s “untouchables” leader, her talk of eight-lane highways and birthday gifts for the poor had yet to filter to villagers pinning their hopes more on rain gods. The villagers, from the same “untouchable” or Dalit caste as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, stood by their ramshackle mud huts and pointed to broken water pumps. Picture taken January 16, 2008. TO MATCH FEATURE INDIA-DALITS/ REUTERS/Pawan Kumar (INDIA)

Spending on Christmas gifts in the U.S. could hit a whopping trillion dollars this year, according to estimates. But how many of those gifts will change a life?

On the first Christmas, tradition says, the Wise Men brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Child Jesus.

Two millennia later, tens of millions of “unwanted” children around the world eagerly search for their own trio of precious gifts this Christmas — not gold, expensive perfume or an iPhone, but the life-changing gifts of love, compassion, and hope.

These children are the forgotten ones — abandoned, discarded, pushed aside by their own parents, left to rummage in the festering garbage for scraps of food or recyclable materials.

I have often walked through the filthiest slums of Asia’s teeming cities and seen barefoot children as young as 2 or 3 splashing in disgusting open sewers, picking through the rotting trash, and shedding tears of hunger. One thought always crosses my mind: “Do these children have any hope for the future?”

These forgotten ones are among the least of Asia’s extreme poor, not only rejected by those who should love and cherish them, but also passed over by others who are in a position to help them.

They include girls and boys forced into treacherous working conditions and horrific sexual slavery — the real and tragic consequences of being unwanted and unloved in South Asia.

Just as Jesus was moved with compassion for the suffering — especially children — so the “forgotten ones” move us to silent tears today.

If this were the end of the story, I’d despair, as I know you would too. But just as the Wise Men came carrying gifts, we can bring our precious gifts of love, compassion, and hope this Christmas to children who are forgotten and unwanted.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, K. P. Yohannan