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Our children in the shadows

Challenging problem: the subject of children needing help to have a decent meal in Bermuda is one of those topics that raises more questions than answers (File photograph)

The festive season is fast approaching, when thoughts shift to celebration, gifts and family gatherings. On an island that has a reputation for being among the most affluent for its size, there are more children in the shadows of society than is generally known.

Recently, there was a tag day to raise funds to assist in meeting the needs of children who in a number cases leave home for school on empty stomachs, and are expected to cope in a world that at times seems oblivious to their plight.

Many of these children suffer not just from hunger, but develop mental issues as they struggle in the shadows of daily life, trying to comprehend why others seem to have so much, while they spend most of their time wondering what the next day will bring. These children may be in the shadows at the moment, but unless they can be made to feel a part of society, there is that possibility that it will be society that will later get the rude awakening.

Sadly, that can take many forms.

The subject of children needing help to have a decent meal in Bermuda is one of those topics that raises more questions than answers.

On the surface, it would appear that many of our children appear to be eating too much, and usually get everything they want. That may be true in many family situations, which is a part of modern society.

On the other hand, no matter what the cover of the book looks like, there are countless stories about children who for various reasons lack not only sufficient food, but also yearn for the love and affection that is essential in providing encouragement and hope as they grow.

Not all children facing difficult situations fall prey to negative elements. Some are stronger than others and with even a little help manage to stay focused on making something of themselves. All children are important and when one child is left without proper support anywhere, the potential for drifting in the wrong direction is ever-present. Although the Christmas atmosphere ushers in a more giving spirit, when the festivities conclude and routine sets in, some of that spirit seems to fade.

That is unfortunate because as long as there are pockets of children in our society who depend on others to get by, we have a problem in trying to keep our children from taking the wrong path in community life.

No amount of commendation is great enough for those volunteer groups that include service clubs and other organisations that toil without fanfare to feed children who otherwise would be hungry in the shadows.

There have been stories over the years of children with empty lunch boxes who simply wanted to give the impression they had what other children had. It is difficult to imagine how that child feels when other children are seen enjoying a healthy meal. No one wants to point fingers as to who should be held accountable for a hungry child in a land with so much. Solving these problems is challenging because so much has changed in Bermuda in recent decades that has affected family life.

The village-type system where almost every adult was a surrogate parent has slipped away over the years, leaving a climate of people looking out only for themselves.

It is always refreshing to observe a stronger effort during the Christmas period and see more sensitivity to the needs of others, especially children living in the shadows of need. Most importantly, that need goes beyond food and toys. Only positive guidance, love and affection will move them out of the shadows and into the sunlight of a better and brighter life, which will only make Bermuda a strong and healthy society.