‘Slumdog Millionaire’ depresses me: What’s a mom to do?

We settled in on Saturday night to finally watch “Slumdog Millionaire” on DVD. I knew it won a bunch of Oscars, I knew it was set in India, and I knew they lived in the slums.

However, I didn’t expect (probably stupidly) the amount of heartwrenching violence and sadness that these poor children endured growing up in the movie.

Here’s a plot summary if you haven’t seen it. (Spoiler Alert – it gives all the details!)

While I know the “Slumdog Millionaire” story is fictional, sadly I am certain there are thousands of children around the world being sold, traded, abused, forced into slavery, prostitution and to beg on the streets. I’m also certain there are orphaned children living on the streets trying to take care of themselves just as the film depicted.

After crying my way through the movie, I picked my baby up from her crib and brought her into our bed for the night. I just wanted to hold her and love her. I was so sad for the children that don’t have a parent to take care of them!

I dreamed about these poor children all night long, went to church thinking about them and cried in the car on the way to the Home Depot talking about it with Michael.

Then as I was searching for topic to write about I came across a story in an Australian newspaper about thousands of baby girls being stolen and sold in China. (The new trend – steal the girl babies!) More tears! More sadness!

Are all mothers this sensitive to bad things happening to children? After giving birth to each child, I would avoid violent shows and books because they upset me, but I gave birth two years ago. Do you just try not to think about all the children suffering in the world?

Did “Slumdog Millionaire” depress you too?

Many of us are so blessed here in the States, what can mothers do to help children elsewhere? It is our responsibility? Do you sponsor a child through a charity? Does it really get to the children? What overseas charities have you found to be reputable?

28 comments Add your comment

nurse&mother

June 1st, 2009
12:49 am

I have found “Food for the Poor” to be a reputable charity. If I am not mistaken, the charity operates on less than 10%. Heifer International is also a good charity. Both help people to help themselves. Heifer involves animals. The families are given animals which in turn provides both food and jobs. They are expected to give away their first offspring to another needy family.

Food for the poor, helps people in a similar way. For example, one family might be given a boat so that they may catch fish both for food and to sell. Another family might be taught a trade.

In my opinion, it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of others’ sufferings. To merely ignore the injustices of the world is irresponsible. If nothing else, at least be thankful for what you have.

I think UNICEF is another good organization. This charity specifically helps children.

I think it is a good idea to do some research before you just hand someone (charity) a check. I’ve heard that a charity is a good steward of money if they operate on 10% or less from donations.

DB

June 1st, 2009
1:14 am

I, too, found “Slumdog Millionaire” to be depressing — that, and the news that the young stars of the movie are still living in abject poverty in the Indian slums.

I think that anyone who loves children wants to protect them from harm, and seeing that bad things happen to children in spite of our wish to protect them is frustrating and sad. It’s not just kids overseas who need help — there are many, many children right here in American who also need help. I don’t say that to denigrate the global need — but I have to admit, it frustrates ME to see the ads for CCF and their heartrending photos of kids in need half-way around the world, when there are kids right here in America whose lives are just as heartbreaking. Organizations such as UNICEF and continued reports of their financial mismanagement make me view those ubiquitous “trick or treat for UNICEF!” boxes with skepticism. And the Christian Children’s Fund has changed its name, effective July 1st, to ChildFund International, dropping “Christian” from its name in response to charges from Christian watchdog groups that the name “Christian” was a) offputting to non-Christians and b) misleading to those wishing to contribute to Christian-based organizations, as the group is not evangelical or missionary in any way, but rather, concentrates on community development instead of direct assistance to those darling wide-eyed waifs you see on TV.

It’s not just mothers — it’s everyone who has a responsibilty to children.

JATL

June 1st, 2009
7:28 am

Yes, having children made me even more sensitive to upsetting news about children. Of course I was always bothered when hearing a news story regarding violence or neglect and children, but after becoming a parent I get extremely upset.

I do have to say that the horrific poverty in India should already be known by everyone who considers themselves educated or “in the know” regarding world news. It’s been that way my entire lifetime. It’s what Mother Theresa was famous for-living in the slums of Calcutta (if only she had the temerity to be a birth-control advocate -how could you live there and not be? Forget being Catholic -we’re talking about being human). If “Slumdog” brings a new awareness, that’s great, but everyone should already be aware of this nightmare. I loved the film. Yes -it’s horribly depressing to think of children anywhere living like that. It’s disgusting. At least this was a film that had a happy ending, but of course most of those kids never get out of the slums -they stay and have more kids.

As far as baby girls being stolen and sold in China -yet another place full of atrocities against humans of all ages. How about so many of the countries in Africa? I don’t think childhood is a really fun time in what usually is a short life in Darfur these days….Then there are the sweatshops all over southeast Asia where 8 year olds make all of our clothes for a few pennies a day.

My point is that it’s all disgusting, and if you’re really concerned about it, you should pick a place and a cause and do whatever you can to try and help at least one child. However, none of this info should be new to anyone.

catlady

June 1st, 2009
7:43 am

I have ALWAYS been horrified about abuse, pain, hunger, and cruelty directed against all, but most especially children, the elder.ly, and animals. There is so much of it in the world. There are few movies I ever watch because of the nightmares I get. I KNOW about this stuff–how can a sentient adult in the US be unaware–but I don’t have to have it in my face. I do my part in my own way to combat this, here in the US in my little corner of Georgia. The task is monumental. Too many have a vested interest in it continuing.

Teachers are confronted with this EVERY SINGLE DAY. Wake up! It isn’t just “over there!”

JJ

June 1st, 2009
8:03 am

Too depressing for a Monday topic……thanks for a great start to the week.

Photius

June 1st, 2009
8:24 am

Theresa writes, “Many of us are so blessed here in the States…”

Many??? How about all of us – even the poorest of the poor here in America are better off than the majority of the world. This is how life is for the majority of people in the world – poverty. Only now after giving birth and watching a movie are you moved? At least you woke up…

Zachs Mom

June 1st, 2009
10:18 am

What if you looked at the movie as determined kids who had to do what it takes to survive. It can show other kids that even you you grow up in a bad environment, the CHOICES that you make in that environment can really impact your life. Do you take the “easy” way and become a thug or do you learn from your experiences and start at the bottom of a company and work for what you have. The character in the movie would not have won the millionaire game EXCEPT for the experiences that he had in life.

Photius is right…the poor in America would be rich in other countries. While I don’t feel like any child should go to be hungry, if that child is hungry and playing XBOX, I have a problem with that. That is a parenting issue and a lot of problems in other countries are contributed to by poor parenting. My biggest pet peeve is…if you can feed the child you already have or yourself for that matter…WHY do you keep having them? Having multiple children unless you can provide for them is irresponsible and will not help lift a family out of poverty.

JJ is right…..happier topic for tomorrow?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 1st, 2009
10:24 am

sorry guys — I have been in such a bad place this whole weekend ! Yes I did know children were poor and suffering all over the world before seeing this movie — i am not stupid — but it is different to think about it in abstract than to see it in living color (even in a movie) —

We will have a fun topic tomorrow — Also I think we have a new giveaway — I’m waiting to see the link go live — Did any of our moms win the Food Netowrk contest?? Have they notified anyone???

JJ

June 1st, 2009
10:46 am

Theresa, It’s just a movie. That’s why I don’t watch stuff like that. I want to be entertained, not depressed.

HB

June 1st, 2009
10:51 am

While I agree that for the most part poverty in developing countries is at a different level than poverty is here, there are a lot of kids in the U.S. who don’t have enough food to eat, access to medical care, or adequate housing (or even inadequate housing in many cases). We need to do more to help children both here and abroad.

To me, the saddest and most frustrating thing about the movie has been reading about the plight of the young actors and the efforts to help them. The filmmakers recognized that just handing the families a lot of cash would likely do more harm than good and instead have provided for their education and set up trusts of undisclosed amounts (to try to prevent the children from becoming targets) that will be theirs when the reach adulthood. In the meantime, though, for some reason it has been difficult to get the families into new housing (I think they finally got new places this week after their shacks were torn down recently). These stories have illustrated how even when the means and the will are there, it can be so difficult to just get things done!

guy.

June 1st, 2009
11:01 am

zach’s mom: did you even watch the movie? the kids didnt really pull themselves up by their boot straps. they were thugs in the streets hustling for money. are you advocating that all poor people make the CHOICE to get on a millionaire game show and then through happenstance know all the answers? sounds like youve solved the poverty problem in the world. keep up the good work.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 1st, 2009
11:02 am

JJ — it was a movie but there are really people living like that all over the world and that’s the part I can’t get over it — I agree wtih you that I try normally not to watch sad stuff just for being sad — Michael loves depressing movies and books — I had no idea it would b e like that — I have told michael to move Paul Blart Mall Cop to the top of the Netflix list!!!

Jesse's Girl

June 1st, 2009
11:25 am

Here’s an emotional hormone hurricane for ya…..I still cry, no weep, at the Folgers Coffee commercial circa 1988….where Peter comes home from college/war/Peace Corps for Christmas. So yes….any movie or infomercial involving children makes me cry. I stay FAR AWAY from St Jude shows and I do not watch charity-mercials for kids from afar. We do give to those in need, but it is done through our church. I do not live in a vaccuum….I am painfully aware of how blessed I am. But being an American doesn’t guarantee a poverty free life. Our church goes several times a year to the poorest county in the country….in West Virginia…to attend to the most basic of needs. These people…while Americans…live as if they are a third world country. The poverty and lack of EVERYTHING is astonishing. It makes you all the more grateful for your sink of dirty dishes and the laundry you can’t catch up on.

You will get depressed by Paul Blart...

June 1st, 2009
11:50 am

…too – it is so bad!!!!! Kevin James is usually funny, but not in this one.

JJ

June 1st, 2009
12:54 pm

I give when I can, but I will NOT give to charities that are raising money to send to other countries. I firmly believe we need to take care of our own before we take care of the rest of the world. We have so many people starving right here in America, and that’s a shame.

I would much rather spend my money and see it go to the placed in VA Jessie’s Girl described, then send it to some place in Africa.

I try very hard to spend locally, and not support another country. Therefore, I only buy Made in America, which is getting more and more difficult to find.

I don’t buy produce at the grocery stores anymore. I try to buy what I need at the local farmer’s markets, and ask the vendor if they have grown it themselves. Some of those vendors get their produce from Kroger and try to label it as their own.

Suwanee is putting in a “community garden” where we can plant, reap & sow our own veggies…..

I like to shop locally and buy locally. If I see “Made in China” on a label, I put it back.

Zachs Mom

June 1st, 2009
1:11 pm

I did watch the movie several times. The brother that went on the game show could have followed his brother into the world of crime and did not. Yes their young life was horrible but as they reached the adult world, you didn’t see the “good” brother sitting in a bar saying that the world owed him and why didn’t anyone “give” him a job. He worked hard a lowing paying job trying to make a better life for himself. We don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t gone on the game show. Maybe he would have fould a way to go to school. Maybe he would have learned something at his job that would let him start his own company, maybe he was happy where he was with what he had achieved.

All of your life experiences and the choices that you make, make you the person that you are. Life is not easy for most people. I have been homeless, hungry and poor and that life was not what I wanted for me or my son. It has not been easy but it has been educational, rewarding and full of surprises.

HB

June 1st, 2009
1:25 pm

“Yes I did know children were poor and suffering all over the world before seeing this movie — i am not stupid — but it is different to think about it in abstract than to see it in living color (even in a movie) —”

Of course, a fictional film giving us the up-close perspective of a few characters can evoke emotion where generalized news reports that “bad things happen” may not. Art and literature have raised awareness of and provoked deeper thought and discussion on issues for ages (and more recently, so have movies). There’s no shame in being moved by that. And then there’s also the reality presented in the movie — the characters and events were fictional, but those aerial shots of the slums, with endless tiny shacks, each a home for an entire family, were real. That’s not an image most Americans see on a regular basis.

penguinmom

June 1st, 2009
3:53 pm

I am very saddened by the plight of these children. A couple of years ago when ‘Amazing Grace’ came out, our church became involved in the ‘Loose Change to Loosen Chains’ campaign started by Zach Hunter, a Gwinnett teen. It’s an organization that fights slavery around the world. We also support NightLight, an organization that helps young women to escape prostitution slavery in Bangkok. The number of people enslaved today is staggering.

We do have problems here in the US even here in Atlanta which is one of the #1 places for child trafficking in the country. Even so, I don’t think anything can compare to the level of poverty, degradation and hopelessness that exists in other countries.

I think World Vision is one of the better child sponsor organizations (as long as you don’t mind the Christian slant.) We have sponsored a child through them in the past.

Many people think that if they had lived before the Civil War that they would have helped stop slavery. Slavery is happening today all over the world. We all need to get involved to help the modern day victims here and abroad.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 1st, 2009
5:53 pm

Oddly enough another news story related to our discussion — Mexico is proposing a ban on street children — they would be rounded up and shock — cared for, fed and educated!!!!!! Praise God!

How many kids would that involved? Christian Science Monitor reports:
“According to Mexico’s National Agency for Family Development, in a 2004 study carried out with UNICEF, some 108,917 children are at risk, living on the streets in Mexico. Mexico’s national statistics office estimates that 3.6 million children (under the age of 18) work, and of those, 41.5 percent do not attend school.”

Here’s the link — http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0601/p06s07-woam.html

catlady

June 1st, 2009
5:59 pm

Teresa, I wish you could come to my school and hear the behind the scenes things we teachers are presented with. It IS in the real world, and right around you, even where you live, just maybe not in your exact neighborhood. I live about 80 miles away, and it is available for view in living color. For example, the third grader whose mama “didn’t want to wait” at the food bank–there was no food in the house–so she took the two kids to the park and met a man who promised to give them food if he could sleep over at their house. And then, he told me matter-of-factly, all the man gave them was raamen noodles. Or the child who lives with his parents and 10 siblings in a house with holes in the floor, with rats and snakes coming in, and sleeps in the living room with three of his siblings, and most of what he eats he gets at school. I could go on and on, and have not told you about the really awful things.

I am just saying, if the movie woke you up, now look around you and see the horror daily that many of our children live, and resolve to DO something. Write letters and petitions, make phone calls, go to the Capitol, take up money or food, become a mentor, or become a guardian ad litem.

catlady

June 1st, 2009
6:00 pm

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KartofflMuter

June 1st, 2009
8:11 pm

Grow up. White liberals give me a headache. I say this as a white liberal. I can’t help the color of my skin,but when my daughter turned 2,I adopted a child through Children International. There was no movie. There no friends urging or guilting me into it nor did I have a surplus of cash. I know there are equally deserving children in Appalachia and Africa and Afghanistan but I chose India and a girl because I felt she was most likely to be snapped up at an early age for prostitution. Plain and simple.
That was 15 years ago. All that time,my child and her mother have lived in a cement structure with a solid floor and roof. She gets food,medicine,birthday and holiday gifts,special hug day and an ongoing education. It’s not a mansion,but it can’t be bulldozed every 3 weeks because it’s not an illegal structure either. What’s a mom to do indeed!
As for Slumdog Millionaire, it is not a depressing movie in the least. It is a joyous one. Love wins. The truth wins. Goodness conquers evil. There will always be some casualties both innocent and guilty. But that is nothing new. Have you ever watched a soap opera? In the U.S,where they can go on for decades, when a story arc comes to a conclusion i.e. the boy finally gets the girl,within 1 episode (ONE EPISODE!) the hero or heroine will lie down with a headache and it will end up being a brain tumor that kills him or her within a matter of weeks or months. We in the U.S. put up with this and yet you dare to call Slumdog depressing.
In India,there are soap operas to. They run for 1-4 years at most. But the endings are always resolved with joy even in death. The main characters confess their sins,repent,are slain for misdeeds,are re-incarnated to love again,defeat evil,have babies despite being barren,pray to G-d,and weep together at their good fortune. You see,In India,unlike the U.S. they truly do have a relationship,a daily personal one,with G-d. And this relationship leaves them far from depressed. It gives them succor and hope and comfort and strength. Poverty brings out the best in some people. And there a so many people.

FCM

June 1st, 2009
9:20 pm

Theresa move Yes Man to the top of the list—I was laughing so I hard I could not stop. On the other hand, Paul Blart has his own reasons that the movie isn’t quite as lighthearted as you would think.

I did not see Slumdog nor do I want too. Yes people live like that everywhere. Mathew 26:11 ” For ye have the poor always with you” Sad that after 2000+ years Jesus’ words are still true.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 1st, 2009
10:15 pm

thanks for the suggestion guys on which are good organizations to sponsor through. I will investigate –

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 1st, 2009
10:53 pm

Good golly — i just need some light humor please!!!!

penguinmom

June 1st, 2009
11:17 pm

If you need light humor (and aren’t offended easily) watch Late Late show with Craig Ferguson. He’s often Laugh out Loud funny.

32 Years In

June 2nd, 2009
12:16 am

Jesse’s Girl…I always loved that Folger’s commercial too. Now the Publix commercials around holidays usually make me get teary-eyed. They use a terrific ad company!

Catlady, as a longtime teacher I know where you’re coming from. It’s amazing the kids can learn anything with the life baggage they bring to school. I always try to remind myself daily that being at school might be the best part of that child’s day.

Penguinmom, I LOVE Craig Ferguson! His craziness makes me laugh out loud too.

Cammi317

June 3rd, 2009
11:09 am

The thing that disturbed me the most was knowing that the children who starred in the movie are still living in the slums and at least two of their homes were recently torn down and their families thrown out on the streets. The producers claim that trusts were set up for these children to ensure their welfare, so why have they not been given access to some of the funds?