I was standing in a queue waiting to pay in a busy grocery shop when a little girl pushed her way to the front.

The cashier stopped what he was doing to attend to her. She waved the ice cream stick and asked how much it cost.

When she was given the answer, she looked back at a lady, who was taking a keen interest in the whole thing, for an opinion. The lady shook her ahead and the disappointed girl returned the ice cream.

It was clear to everybody that her mother could not afford to buy her daughter what she wanted. They both left the shop empty-handed and many pairs of eyes followed them to the door.

It was an embarrassing moment and a humiliating one, too.

Everybody with small children would relate to such an incident. You might say that it happens all the time.

To parents, it is something we shrug off and take the whole thing philosophically. To the affected young children, it is an issue of deprivation.

I am not blowing it out of proportion, but, perhaps, am trying to gently gnaw at your subconscious to be sensitive about it.

If you are reading this column, then I am sure you can afford an ice cream stick. But cast your thoughts on those who are not in your position.

In many average homes, we leave loose change on the dining table, bathrooms and even on the floor. These are not coins, but paper money that can buy a child an ice cream.

In average homes, I might add, we see toys and Play Station games scattered all over the place that cost enough money to feed a poor family for one month.

Last week, I received a call from a reader, who wanted the contact number of a family whose misfortunes I wrote about in this column. He wanted to help, he said, and I was happy to supply the contact numbers. It was heartening that at least one person somewhere in the big world has a soft heart.

You would say I am confusing between absolute necessity and luxury. Yes, but kids are not wise enough to know that three square meals a day is enough. They see other children, and they are the majority, eating burgers and chocolates whenever they want.

I know you cannot solve every child’s problem, but really, here in the Gulf, there are no organisations effective enough to combat such problems. The notion that the region sits on more than half the oil reserves is very deceiving.

Since oil is a commodity that dictates the global economy, the people who produce it can afford an ice cream stick for their children. You and I know the truth.

When countries like Iran and Pakistan are struck with earthquakes, millions of cash is raised for charitable purpose. It is commendable and always will be. However, the silence continues for local needs. Perhaps, thousands of needy in the region do not have a proper representation of their case.

The victims in Iran and Pakistan have the media to speak for them. But does not charity start at home? And what does the local media do about it? There is hardly any campaign going on that is seriously dedicated to local poor people.

All the charities here have no coordination and lack discipline. It remains that neighbours and friends know who needs such help, but really, the media must take a leading role in combating local poverty.

 The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.