What would you do if you saw a child standing alone, looking lost, in a public place? Would you approach them to help? What if, instead of wearing nice clothes they were bedraggled, with a grubby face and unkempt hair? Would it make a difference to you? One charity set out to find out.
Six-year-old child actor Anano is filmed standing alone on a path and then again wandering alone in a restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia – a country north of Turkey – for a social experiment for international children’s charity UNICEF.
In both scenarios Anano is first dressed neatly in nice clothes and is met with warm smiles, hugs and many offers of help.
But, when she returns to both sites with a dirty face and dressed in grubby clothes – like many refugee children fleeing Syria – she receives a completely different response, one that will leave you cold.
Standing alone on a path, the tiny six-year-old is completely ignored. And, while that is enough hard to watch, it pales in comparison to the cruelty Anano is met with in the restaurant. Women grab their handbags as Anano passes by. She is repeatedly told to “go away” and one man even calls on restaurant staff to “take her out”.
The experiment has to be called off when Anano becomes so upset at the cruel reaction from the adults around her that she runs from the restaurant crying.
“Because my face was covered in soot and my clothes were all dirty, this made me sad,” Anano says after the experiment.
“They were all telling me to go away.”
The UNICEF video closes with the statement, “imagine what it’s like for millions of children who are pushed aside every day”.
“Change starts when you choose to care.”
A statement accompanying the video on the UNICEF website explains the #FightUnfair campaign calls for people to spread awareness of the plight of homeless children and hold governments accountable for making sure every child has the chance at a better future.
“Investing in the poorest children not only improves their lives, but also their children’s lives – breaking the vicious cycle of poverty,” the statement says.
It’s not the first time a charity has used children to test the kindness – or otherwise – of adults. Take another look at our post about what strangers did when they saw a young boy shivering without a coat in the snow.