The documentary Children of God starts and a striking statement is soon made in the voice of a child. The child informs the man behind the camera, and transversely the audience, that he is 12 years old, and will die by the next year, at 13 years old. This isn't said as a plea for help, an offer to escape his current situation, or even a doomsday prophecy of sorts. It is said and meant as a statement of warped hope for the near future of one of Nepal's "dirty boys."
In truth, the struggles faced and story told in this documentary happens to all of us, but likely not quite like this. We all experience loss, change, struggle of some sort, and we all get to choose, in some capacity, how we'll handle things and whether or not it's worth it to us to see another day. For Alesh Poudel, a young boy who has not yet hit puberty but lives with more responsibility than a lot of adults will ever be able to face, life and death are almost a simultaneous thing.
Living in the not so quiet corners of a crematorium located on the Ganges, a river believed to flow straight to heaven and the gods, he swims and bathes in the ashes of the deceased who have left their families with requests to be laid to rest there when they pass on, and he survives on what those people live behind in a variety of ways.
Poudel is quick witted, and has obviously picked up a unique sort of wisdom in correlation with his daily life filled with family strife and financial struggle, but seems unaware of the strange parallels in his life, and his lack of worldly experience makes itself evident in ways including his abstract but tangible ideas about home, heaven, and what is truly possible outside of the only land he's ever known, as well as an unintentionally ironic metaphor he proudly makes in a moment of peace; that his four year old sister is pure like the water of the Ganges.
Familial and societal bonds in the society of Nepal are also explored in Children of God, and while you will be left with questions, it won't be for a lack of effective story telling or direction. There are moments in the film when subtitles aren't present. Perhaps for legal reasons or out of respect for the people being filmed, but this absence, which isn't completely where your questions will stem from, can make you feel out of the loop as an English speaking audience member.