There are many people in the world who have struggled to have a better future, and they have accomplished it by hard work, dedication, sacrifices, and by the help of others. A great number of these people have made it big in business, and in the media and entertainment industries to name a few. I have tremendous respect and admiration for these people who are genuinely authentic, people who happily acknowledge their family and cultural roots, and who never forget where they come from.
Readers may remember I wrote my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’, this was a non-fiction book on the tribulations of my life, from birth to entrepreneur, detailing the emotions of what being a child can really entail, I recall the first time I ran away from home, people have always said to me ‘you have always held an old head on young shoulders’, it is funny how you remember these statements.
I recently purchased a DVD from Amazon called Lion. The story of Lion, is up for six Oscars, including best picture, it tells the story of how, in 1986, Saroo, an illiterate, impoverished five-year-old in rural central India, got separated from his brother at a railway station in Burhanpur, and accidentally ended up alone on a train that took him almost a thousand miles to Kolkata (then called Calcutta). Unable to speak Bengali, and unaware of the name of his home town, he had no way to return. He lived as a street urchin and survived on his wits and scraps of food. He was later taken in by an orphanage, and was eventually adopted by an Australian couple, Sue and John Brierley, who took him to start a new life in Tasmania.
The trailer for Lion:
The saddest thing to see is how quick some of these people forget where they come from to a point that they feel ashamed to talk about their past and how they arrived to where they are now. I think this goes beyond sad because such stories can serve as a very valuable tool to encourage other people who have also embarked on a journey to pursue a better future. Why does this happen? What makes these people “forget” where they come from?
When people go through hardships in life, they often become resentful and frustrated for having struggled more than others. Even when they make it big, they are selfish, arrogant, boastful, disrespectful, and so on. It seems that in the way to pursuing a better future, their hearts were hardened by the circumstances they had to endure.
It is understandable that suffering and pain can cause any person to feel the most negative emotions; the difference is in getting over them, particularly when people’s goals have been satisfactorily met. Life is hard, no doubt. Fortunately, we can learn to be better people without forgetting where we come from.
According to Railway Children, it is estimated that a child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK. That’s 100,000 children every year.
Research shows this can happen to anyone, with children running away from affluent homes as well as low-income households. Running away is slightly more common among girls than boys.
The study estimated that of the 18,000 children under the age of 11 who run away for the first time, 6,000 are less than eight years old.
“It is very worrying that a small number of people at a very young age become detached from their families, their schools and their communities,” said Professor Stein. “They are outside the system completely.”
The research also reveals that 21 per cent of young people living in step-families had run away once, compared to 13 per cent in lone-parent families and 7 per cent of those living with their birth families.
Four out of five children said they ran away to escape family conflict, violence, or abuse. Children who ran away before the age of 11 were most likely to have experienced a death in the family or their parents’ divorce. Most children who ran away from care were runaways before going into care.
Ian Sparks, chief executive of The Children’s Society, which took part in the study, said: “The sheer scale of the problem tells us we have a crisis on our hands. It means in every classroom, in every school the chances are at least one child will run away in the next year.
“When children feel alienated and rejected, then running away can seem some sort of solution.”
He added: “This issue cuts across class boundaries – children are almost as likely to run away from a leafy suburb as an inner-city estate. The outcomes of ignoring their cries for help may be terrible.
“We spoke to a small but significant number of children who had been completely detached from any form of help and support for over six months. These are the children that no-one notices when they disappear.”
Children are often running away from problems at home or at school. Some are dealing with very serious issues at home, such as neglect, drug and alcohol addiction (their own or their parents’), mental health problems, violence and abuse. A few children are even forced to leave home by their parents or carers. Others are trying to escape common problems such as bullying, relationship difficulties, loneliness or family breakdown.
Many children run away on the spur of the moment, without any forward planning – meaning that they probably have not thought about where they will go, where they will sleep, or how they will manage to support themselves.
This means that many children end up on the streets, where the problems they face are often even worse than those they have endured at home. In many cases, children and young people who end up alone on the streets are at risk of sexual exploitation, drug and alcohol dependency, abuse and violence.
Here is a great video on parenting and runaway children: Runaway teens – Parentchannel.tv
Why do teens run away from home? We look at some of the reasons, the signs to look out for, and what you can do if you’re worried your teen might run away.
If your teenager has run away and decides to return do not expect all the problems to have disappeared. Discuss what returning home might be like before they come back so that neither of you have any false expectations.
Encourage them to talk to you about any problems they are facing and be prepared to listen. Be aware that some things that might have happened to them since they have been away may be difficult to talk about. Some local organisations offer mediation services which might be able to help and be prepared to make some concessions and meet your teenager halfway.
At first your teenager may get in touch but be unsure about returning home, you may have your own concerns about them coming back to your home as well. You may feel you need some time to sort things out in your mind. In this case it may help if a close friend or relative could allow your teenager to stay. You will then be reassured they are safe and you can start to talk things through at an agreed meeting point – somewhere that feels comfortable for both of you.
• Give each other space
• Be prepared to compromise
• Recognise it is going to take time to sort things through.
• Get help with talking things through.
It is very important to have people in your life who you love and trust, people that you can reach out to for advice and to keep a reality check on how you are coping with life. Your group may consist of two or more people who you highly trust and confide upon. Never forget where you come from will keep you grounded and in touch with reality. Embrace your life and love the people who have helped you to be where you are now, life is a journey, there are always ups and downs, the important factor to always remember is whatever the problem is or maybe ‘never, never, never give up’. You will recognise life is incredibly precious and the people you love and trust on this journey, family or friends are equally as precious.
A great quote in Chapter 1 of my book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’ by Henry David Thoreau:
“Every child begins the world again”