In my childhood, if a child was not feeling well, we used to take him to the traditional healer, who would beat the sick child with a broom in order to drive out the sickness
and evils inside,” says Manali, a 25-year-old mother of two
from Raigad district of Maharashtra state. Remembering
life in the remote village where she grew up, she says, “My
parents didn’t pay much attention to us. Even when I was 6
years old, my son’s age now, I had responsibility for my
A Legacy of Supporting Children
Manali’s children, Kunal, 6, and Komal, 3, are getting an
all-around different start. They participate in programs
provided by ChildFund International, a child-focused
international development organization committed to
improving the lives of children living in poverty
ChildFund started 75 years ago as “China’s Children
Fund,” helping to support orphaned children in China after
the second Sino-Japanese war. The child sponsorship program launched then is a model still used today – connecting sponsors to children in need and providing one-to-one
connection, as well as funds to support locally run programs that benefit the child’s community.
Over the years, ChildFund has evolved and expanded
worldwide. Now working in 30 countries, ChildFund promotes societies that value the rights of children, seeking
long-term solutions to complex problems that keep children and their families mired in poverty.
ChildFund in India
Since it began work in India in 1951, ChildFund has
helped more than 1 million children in 1,600 communities.
Now, 65,000 children are enrolled in the sponsorship program, and more than 7,000 await sponsorship. With more
than one-third of the world’s poor living in India, there is a
monumental challenge, but ChildFund faces it head-on.
ChildFund’s impact in India is vast, and its programs
range from early childhood development, maternal and
child health care, livelihood training and micro-lending to
child rights awareness and water and sanitation projects.
Some recent program successes confront child labor,
access to education for girls and disaster recovery.
Confronting Child Labor
Vipin is a young man with big plans. The 18-year-old
from the northern region of Uttar Pradesh wants to be a
doctor one day, but his work responsibilities are making it
hard to reach his goal. Vipin supports his family by assembling bangles in a factory in Firozabad. Without his income,
the family would struggle to make ends meet, but if Vipin
does not complete his education, the generational cycle of
poverty will continue.
“Some days, I get my fingers burned and blistered,” Vipin
says. “But I have to work. Otherwise, we will not complete
the day’s quota.”
The exponential economic growth seen over the last few
decades has brought both employment opportunities and
exploitation, often with dangerous working conditions,
particularly for children and youth like Vipin. But, thanks to
a ChildFund sponsor, he has been able to continue his edu-
cation and is an active member of the Youth Federation, a
ChildFund-supported organization dedicated to ending
child labor and promoting educational opportunities for
ChildFund’s Disha Children’s Program has found particular success for other children who work in Firozabad’s glass
and bangle industry. More than 1,600 children were
removed from bangle making factories through the program, and an impressive 95 percent have been able to continue their studies. Due to a focus on the health and nutrition of child workers, malnutrition has decreased by 71 percent. Chronic health problems decreased by 50 percent,
and 1,500 mothers were trained in nutrition basics.
Breaking Barriers to Girls’ Education
In many parts of the world, including India, girls often
have more barriers to face than boys when accessing education. Cultural norms, responsibilities in the household
and financial limitations are just some of the issues
ChildFund works to address.
In rural areas, girls must walk for hours to get to school,
which is grueling, impractical and often dangerous.
ChildFund’s Dream Bike program provides bicycles to girls,
allowing them to make the trip much faster - and more
safely - with time left over for studies and helping at home.
The program, launched in 2012, has given hundreds of girls
access to school in India and Sri Lanka, with plans to
expand to other countries in the coming years.
Responding When Disaster Strikes
When Cyclone Phailin hit the east coast region of Odisha
in mid-October this year, many more lives might have been
lost if the area had not been on alert and evacuations
already complete. Although the devastation to the farmland and to people’s homes is extensive, compared with
storms in recent years, the death toll was low. A 1999
cyclone that hit the same area killed more than 10,000 people. The number from Cyclone Phailin was fewer than 50.
Due in part to response efforts of ChildFund’s local partner organizations, all of the children and families in the
threatened areas where ChildFund works were safely evacuated. Unfortunately, more than 75 percent of the rice
paddy crops were lost, and floods destroyed many of the
roads. As the communities confront their losses, ChildFund
will be there to institute long-term recovery efforts and psychosocial support to help families and children continue
coping with the trauma of a natural disaster.
Giving Back to India
For children like Vipin and families like Manali’s,
ChildFund programs have meant access to a better life, a
chance at education and to finally break the poverty cycle.
A holistic package of community-based services including
early childhood stimulation, nutrition, access to health
care, educational support, water and sanitation, parenting
education and other services follow children through life as
they become successful young adults.
Despite the thousands of children who are receiving support through ChildFund programs, many more need assistance. This year, ChildFund has teamed with Bollywood
icon Sridevi to launch a new campaign, “Give Back to
India.” It aims to inspire millions of Indians living in the US
to give back to their homeland through child sponsorship
or by supporting many initiatives, including a scholarship
program for girls in Udaan, a food program for orphans and
health care efforts for Indian children with disabilities. For
more information, to make a donation or to sponsor a child
in India, please visit childfund.org/give-joy.
Helping India’s future, one child at a time
A26 Support a Cause Response Feature India Abroad November 29, 2013
ChildFund promotes societies that value the rights of children, and try to get them out of poverty
Girls in Khireshwer with their bikes from the first Dream Bike program. A family in Kendrapada before their home, damaged by Cyclone Phailin. Young Shivana at a ChildFund center in Gondale Shedgekond village.