This image has haunted me since it appeared in my newsfeed a few days ago.
It has gone viral, but it appeared in my feed just the once. And once was enough—the image is seared in my mind’s eye and comes forth each time I offer a loving-kindness meditation to the people of Nepal.
But, despite the caption that’s been accompanying it on social media shares, this photo is not of two Nepalese children. It has also been cited as Burmese orphans and victims of Syria’s civil war.
In fact, they are Vietnamese children and the photo was taken in 2007 by Na-Son Nguyen in a village in the mountain area of Hà Giang province. The little boy is consoling his scared sister while their parents go to work in the fields.
It is an emotive image and of course there are questions around ethics if the photo was deliberately mis-credited to arouse a partiular response. (It may have been an accidental assumption.)
But, right or wrong, for me this photo’s association with the Nepalese earthquake has been powerful.
It has been a critical reminder that children in Nepal, just like this pair, are at great risk right now—as are many other children around the world.
The picture helps us to connect with the suffering of children, no matter who they are or what their particular circumstances.
It is a critical reminder that we cannot become complacent in our privileged lives. We need to be mindful of the suffering experienced by our fellow beings—human and animal—elsewhere on this planet. We need to be more than mindful—we need to do whatever we can to, in some way, alleviate this suffering.
Right now, for Nepal, this means to keep on donating. And for all children, everywhere, to ask ourselves what one thing we can do that will be of help? And then do what we can for some, while holding in our hearts the intention for wellbeing of all children—especially those growing up in fear, neglect or deprivation.
If you feel there is nothing you can do, let me assure you—there is always something.
Prayers and dedicated meditation matter.
Energetically, we are sending support to the situation and that may arrive physically through other people. A bit like our cash donations which translate into food, water, shelter and medical aid on the ground.
Inspired by this lovely month of metta piece, here is my prayer for the children of Nepal:
Despite the horror you are living through, may you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved and cared for.
May you be sheltered from the elements.
May you be protected in every way.
May you be provided with clean water and nourishing food.
May your wounds be tended with love.
May you feel hope.
May you feel moments of joy in each day.
May you be sustained by that joy.
May you survive and thrive.
May you go on to live a good life.
May you experience—and be filled with—loving kindness.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Photo: with permission via Na-Son Nguyen