Tag Archives: India

Getting Clean Water Flowing

A few months ago, we reported on our partnership with the international nonprofit organization Wine To Water, which works to bring clean water solutions to some of the most remote parts of the world. Before Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I left for our trip to India in August, I visited the Wine To Water headquarters in Boone, North Carolina, and took a training course on how to use Sawyer water filters, which when used properly, can last for up to ten years.

Children need to be healthy to learn.

A Sawyer water filter provides clean water for up to ten years.

Requiring little maintenance and upkeep, the Sawyer filters were perfect for us to take to India to distribute to our affiliated projects. I could easily fit thirty of them in a suitcase – enough to give three or four to each of our volunteer coordinators in India, so that they could provide clean drinking water for the children in our program, reducing their risk of contracting illnesses such as typhoid or cholera.

Training day

When Luis and I arrived in India, we found that most of our projects, including the Grace Aaron Boarding Home in Bhoorgampahad, had wells on their properties and used groundwater as their source for cleaning and drinking water. In fact, Children Incorporated supporters funded the installation of the well and pump at the Grace Aaron Boarding Home about ten years ago so that the home would have a fresh water source for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. The problem with the groundwater there, however, is that it is not safe to drink, because sewage disposal in the country is ineffective, and wastewater from toilets is fed into the same water system from which well water is pumped.

On our first day in India, four days before we visited the Grace Aaron Boarding Home, where 68 girls in our program live, Luis and I held a training session for all six of our coordinators who work at our affiliated projects in and around Dornakal. I showed them how to properly assemble the Sawyer water filters and how to correctly use them. The filters require two containers – one on which to attach the filter, where the contaminated water is contained, and another for the clean water that comes out of the filter. All of our coordinators were enthusiastic about using the filters, and they were grateful to have them to start using right away at their projects.

Sanitary practices all around

The girls at the Grace Aaron Boarding Home now have clean water, too, which is essential to their well-being.

When we arrived at the Grace Aaron Boarding Home a few days later, our Volunteer Coordinator there, Mrs. Jesintha, had set the filters up in the activity room where the girls practice singing and dancing after school. Now all the girls have access to clean drinking water throughout the day, whenever they want it. As we toured the rest of the home, we saw that the structure had newly-updated bathrooms, which included tile floors and large hand-washing sinks, which are important in good sanitation practice, helping keep the girls healthy so that they can attend school.

On top of receiving nutritious meals every day and having a safe and sanitary place to live, the girls at the Grace Aaron Boarding Home now have clean water, too, which is essential to their well-being. What seemed at first like a small gesture – providing basic, easy-to-use water filters to our projects – I now understand to be a crucial part in providing basic needs to children living in poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

 You can sponsor a child in India in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.

Keeping Kids Healthy in India

It is difficult to compare India to any other countries where Children Incorporated works. Although a developing country economically, India is still far behind other countries when it comes to providing support for children living in poverty. During my time in India, I could see that the children at our projects, although well cared for, were coming from extremely poor living situations.

Education is the key to children's success

It is important for children to stay healthy so they don’t miss school.

In comparison to other impoverished nations like Kenya and Ethiopia, where the children in our program face similar challenges, of the many noticeable differences that I saw, one that really stood out to me was a lack of access to mosquito nets – an important resource to keep children safe from preventable mosquito-borne illnesses – in India.

The need for protection

While in Kenya and Ethiopia last year, Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I visited the homes of some of our sponsored children’s families – homes where there were mosquito nets covering beds to help prevent family members from acquiring diseases such as malaria and dengue. The nets were provided by our Mosquito Net Fund, which purchases hundreds of nets for children in Africa every year. Requested by our volunteer coordinators, the nets are an inexpensive way to help keep the children in our program healthy so that they can attend school every day.

While visiting the Dornakal Girls’ Hostel in India in August, I noticed that there weren’t any mosquito nets over the children’s bunk beds in any of the dorms. When we asked our coordinator if the children ever fell ill from mosquito-borne diseases, she replied that they did sometimes suffer from dengue. I realized then just how much our projects in India were struggling in comparison to our projects in Africa.

Unfortunately, with all the concerns our coordinator has with regard to providing for the children she serves, and making do with very little funding outside of the support she receives from Children Incorporated, she hadn’t thought to mention a need for mosquito nets.

It is crucial for all the girls to stay healthy, so that the older girls can graduate and make better lives for themselves, and the younger girls can be well enough to go to school – and move on to get a higher education themselves.

Mosquito nets for everyone

Children Incorporated has been affiliated with the Dornakal Girls’ Hostel since 1982. 63 girls live in the home permanently, and 59 of them are in our program. Only a short walk from the bishop’s home, the hostel is located on the Dornakal Diocese Compound. The age range of the girls is wide – the youngest are in kindergarten, and the oldest are taking college-level courses, which I found to be wonderfully surprising.

At most homes, when teens finish high school or when they turn eighteen, they have to leave the home to make room for younger children, and they no longer receive support. Instead, at the Dornakal Girls’ Hostel, youth are encouraged to work hard to obtain their degrees before leaving, which gives them the advantage of being more prepared for the job market when they move out and are on their own for the first time in their lives.

I was happy to see the young women at the Dornakal Girls’ Hostel receive support through college; and it made me grateful to know our sponsors are a big part of that. I appreciated having had the opportunity to visit these dorms, and having had the chance to ask about mosquito nets, specifically.

We will now start sending support from our Mosquito Net Fund to this hostel, as well as to our other affiliated projects in India, as we have already been doing for our projects in Africa. It is crucial for all the girls to stay healthy, so that the older girls can graduate and make better lives for themselves, and the younger girls can be well enough to go to school – and move on to get a higher education themselves.

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HOW DO I CONTRIBUTE TO THE MOSQUITO NET FUND?

You can contribute to our Mosquito Net Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Mosquito Net Fund.

The Advantages of Fluency in English

Through my work with Children Incorporated, I have become accustomed to not always speaking the same language as our sponsored children. The language barrier doesn’t keep me from doing my job of reporting on the burden of poverty that they face in their lives, however, because what they can’t communicate with me, I can see for myself at their homes, schools, and in their communities. I hear stories from our volunteer coordinators about the kids’ families’ daily struggles. It wasn’t until I traveled to India in August, though, that it occurred to me just how important it can be for children to learn English in school.

Education is the key to success

Boys at the English Medium School and Hostel are learning English starting at a young age.

On our second day in Dornakal, a small town located in the eastern region of the state of Telangana, Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I visited the English Medium School and Hostel. When I first heard the name English Medium, I was curious about it, because I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. Many of our projects are named after recognizable locations or people; just the day before, for example, we visited the J. Calvitt Clarke Home, named after our founder’s father. I asked Luis about the origins of the English Medium name; he explained that English medium describes a type of education system in which English, rather than a regional language, is the primary medium of instruction.

A language of opportunity

Fluency in English can be incredibly important because it can lead to more opportunities in life, especially for our sponsored children, who already face a great deal of adversity, coming from poor families.

Although English is not the most spoken language in the world (Mandarin comes in at number one, followed by Spanish), it is an official language in a large number of countries, and it is estimated that more than one billion people use English to communicate on a regular basis. It is the most widely-used common language for communication among peoples of differing nationalities. Even beyond conversational usage, fluency in English can be incredibly important because it can lead to more opportunities in life, especially for our sponsored children, who already face a great deal of adversity,
coming from poor families.

The United States a primary leader in the worlds of technical innovation and economic development, and English is the language most often employed in both of these fields. English is also one of the principal languages featured in the realm of science – and approximately fifty percent of content on the internet is in English. When a child learns English at a young age, he or she may have better job prospects as an adult, which can lead to an increased standard of living. Also, if impoverished parents were given the opportunity to learn English and teach it to their kids, their children would be better-equipped to compete in the global workforce, and therefore help break the cycle of poverty.

Education in India is important

Mr. Franklin, our Volunteer Coordinator, stands with a former sponsored child near the English Medium Hostel.

I thought about the Indian children enrolled in our program who are not being taught English in school now, and who might not start to learn it until later in life, particularly if they wish to pursue a higher education. I considered how that could possibly keep them from being able to successfully compete for employment in the future. Not all schools in India are of the English medium variety because, in part, they are more expensive to run, as salaries are higher for those who speak English, including teachers – which continues the unfortunate cycle of the importance of learning English paired with not enough opportunity to do so.

English medium on the rise

Mr. Franklin, our Volunteer Coordinator at the English Medium Hostel, an energetic middle-aged man with curly white hair, showed us around the home when we arrived. The building itself is two stories high; the boys’ dorm is on the second floor, and the study room and kitchen are on the first. All of the 39 boys that live at the home, who range in age from five to seventeen years, are enrolled in our program, and are benefiting greatly from sponsorship: not only do they have the opportunity to attend school, but also to learn English, which can give them an advantage in life.

When we spoke with Mr. Franklin about the English Medium School that the boys attend, he explained that gaining admission into this academically-challenging school is an achievement; he maintains a strict schedule at the home so that the children have plenty of time to study in both the mornings and afternoons.I asked if he thought that all of the 440 million children in India might ever be able to have the chance to go to English medium schools. He told me that the schools are gaining popularity throughout the country as urban middle-class Indians who have recognized that English is a global language are sending their children to English medium schools, increasing the demand for them. Additionally, he continued, many families living in poverty are sending their children to English medium schools due to the poor quality of education in government-run schools where only native languages are taught. I am hopeful for all the children in India that this trend will continue so that they all have the knowledge of the language they need to get ahead.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

You can sponsor a child in India in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.

Our Founder’s Father, Honored in India

After spending a long day visiting two projects outside of Hyderabad, Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I prepared to travel even further into India’s rural landscape to a small town called Dornakal, in the state of Telangana, where we would be visiting six more homes. Before we left, Luis had explained to me that our projects in Dornakal are nestled in a cathedral compound run by the Diocese of Dornakal, which is a sector of the Church of South India, the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

We were picked up early in the morning by a young priest, Reverend Pratap, with whom Luis had worked on his last trip to India three years prior. A few hours later, when we arrived at the Dornakal Diocese Compound, we were greeted at the bishop’s home by the bishop himself, Reverend Doctor Prasada Rao, and our volunteer coordinators, as well as many of our sponsored children.

The boys enjoy three nutritious meals a day together at the home.

Three of our affiliated projects, established more than thirty years ago by our founder, Mrs. Jeanne Clarke Wood, are in walking distance to one another, within the walls of the compound. As Luis and I met with the bishop and our coordinators, we were looking very forward to visiting each project over the course of the next three days. As Luis and I met with the bishop and our coordinators, we were looking very forward to visiting each project over the course of the next three days.

In remembrance of J. Calvitt Clarke

After the coordinators left, we sat down to lunch with the bishop. Reverend Doctor Prasada Rao has been affiliated with the Diocese of Dornakal for three years, and he explained to us that in that time, he has seen the cost of food and boarding for the children rise; but unfortunately, the Church has not received any additional funding from outside sources. For now, he relies on donations from the congregation and support from Children Incorporated sponsors and donors to ensure that the children have a safe place to live, food to eat, and that they are able to attend school. As I have seen so many times before with our work around the world, without sponsorship, these children would not have the opportunity to go to school.

After eating, Luis and I, along with Reverend Pratap, took a short walk across a large, empty field to the J. Calvitt Clarke Home – named after Mrs. Wood’s father, a Presbyterian Minister who started working with impoverished children in 1938, when he founded China’s Children Fund to aid Chinese children displaced by the Second Sino-Japanese War. Because the mission had expanded to other countries, the name of the organization was changed on February 6, 1951 to Christian Children’s Fund, and then later to ChildFund International, a name which the organization still uses today.

As we approached the home, I thought about how amazing it is that Mrs. Wood had so long ago taken such a great interest in her father’s humanitarian work that she started her own organization. It was special to see Children Incorporated’s history honored in such a way in India. It was in 1964 that Mrs. Wood visited Guatemala for the first time, and witnessed the deprivation of children there. When she returned home, she wanted to do something to help.

Out of her home in Richmond, Virginia, she established Children Incorporated and wrote letters to friends, family, and acquaintances asking for support for the 95 children she had met during her travels. Those children comprised our first affiliated project; and today, Children Incorporated supports over 300 projects in 23 countries. I can’t help but think that Mrs. Wood, who had great admiration for her father, named this project after him as a thank-you for having lead a life of example, so that she herself could go on to do her own work to help hundreds of thousands of children all over the world.

Monkey trouble

When we arrived at the home, Mr. Samuels, our Volunteer Coordinator, was waiting for us. A tall, thin Indian man with a full gray mustache and glasses, Mr. Samuels has been at the J. Calvitt Clarke Home since the 1970s. Today, 34 boys who come from incredibly poor families that cannot afford to take care of them, let alone send them to school, live at the home. Fortunately, all of them are currently enrolled in our program; they attend local schools where they study math, science, social studies, and their regional language, Telugu.

Luis Bourdet and Reverend Pratap greeting boys outside the J. Calvitt Clarke Home

As we toured the home, Luis told me that in the last ten years, Children Incorporated has built a dorm for the boys, as well as purchased cots and mattresses for them to sleep on. The home has a dining hall and study room, and there is a lot of land for the boys to play on in the afternoons. Mr. Samuels told us that there is a small clinic nearby where a nurse treats the children when they fall ill, mostly of illnesses like typhoid, due to a lack of clean drinking water or because of contaminated food.

As we continued talking with Mr. Samuels, we discuss the obstacles he faces as an administrator. He indicated that he is mostly concerned about a lack of funding for improvements to buildings on the compound. Other than the recently-constructed dorm, an undertaking that was facilitated by Children Incorporated supporters, there are cracks in the walls and ceilings of the other buildings on the property, which were built as many as forty years ago.

Mr. Samuels said that he wishes there were funding to enroll more children in the home, too, because the needs of children in and around Dornakal are so great. There are many poor families who make very little money farming, and that cannot afford to feed their children or send them to school. The home has empty beds, but Mr. Samuels doesn’t have the additional money required to fill them.

In an effort to offer a solution to the problem, Luis asked Mr. Samuels why he doesn’t grow food for the children. It was obvious to Luis and I both that there is ample land on the compound property that isn’t being utilized. Mr. Samuels answered with one word: monkeys. Although seemingly harmless to some foreigners, for the locals, monkeys are pests. They roam the compound freely, in large packs, eating everything they find, making it impossible to grow crops or even have fruit trees from which to gather food. Mr. Samuels said that they are only able to grow tea plants, but not enough to sell to generate income.

As we left the project and walked back to the bishop’s home, I watched the mischievous monkeys climb around in the trees, and I thought about how even with the challenges that this project faces today, Mr. Clarke would be so proud of his daughter. I don’t know if he ever visited the J. Calvitt Clarke Home in India, but from what I saw, thanks to the support of our sponsors, donors, and Mr. Samuels, the home is doing amazing work to help poor children in India – children who, without the vision of people like Mr. Clarke and Mrs. Wood, would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive an education.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

You can sponsor a child in India in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.

In Rural India, Children Face Extreme Poverty

When Luis Bourdet, Children Incorporated Director of International Programs, and I left the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home to visit the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel on our second day in India, I was just starting to get an understanding of what poverty looks like for children in the country. The Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home, although older and lacking in funds, is providing for hundreds of students coming from poor farming communities – kids who otherwise would not go to school. The children face a lot of barriers when it comes to getting an education; but thankfully, many of them are being supported by sponsors who can help them overcome adversity.

Without help from their sponsors, girls in rural India would not get an education.

But what we had seen during our first project visit would be very different from what we would see during our second, a couple of hours away from Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, in a smaller town called Yadgir, situated in an even more rural part of India. Lining the roads we traveled, among tiny, one-room brick shacks, were tent communities of tribes of Indians who are not provided with government housing, and who have no choice but to squat on land as they look for seasonal farm work.

These laborers are the poorest of the poor, making only about forty cents a day; and because of their dire economic situation, many of their children are malnourished. Not only can they not afford to send their children to school, but they also can’t afford to feed them.

Older buildings aren’t safe for kids

Children Incorporated has been affiliated with the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel for a long time, although our Volunteer Coordinator, Premalatha, a deaconess with the Methodist Church, is new to the project. Like the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home, the hostel is also supported by the Methodist Church.

When we arrived an hour and a half after leaving Chandrakal, we pulled into a dirt driveway lined with tall trees that cast shadows across the property. Overgrown plants and brush covered the grounds. The compound wasn’t large, but it had enough room for the children to spread out in grassy areas among the buildings and trees.

These laborers are the poorest of the poor, making only about forty cents a day; and because of their dire economic situation, many of their children are malnourished.

We parked outside the main building, the house occupied by Premalatha and her family. Adjacent to their dwelling was the girls’ dorm, which was built about seven years ago, thanks to funding from Children Incorporated supporters. I was already starting to see a pattern in India within our projects – of the two projects we had visited so far, both had benefited immensely from funds from our donors for the construction of new structures.

Another less fortunate similarity to the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home was that the other buildings on the property were very run down but still being used, if for nothing more than storage. Some of the buildings were so dilapidated that they didn’t look safe to enter; and again, I thought it seemed as though they should be demolished.

We met with the 35 girls who live in the home, all of whom are enrolled in our program, outside their dorm. Ranging in age from five to nineteen years, the girls attend local schools located only a short walk from the hostel. Premalatha explained that the parents don’t pay anything for the girls to stay at the hostel, because they are so poor and have no money to contribute. She said that it’s tough for her to make ends meet at the hostel because outside of support from the Church and Children Incorporated, they don’t receive any government funding or help from other non-governmental organizations.

Excelling despite difficulties

Luis Bourdet poses with Sita, who is working towards a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

After we met the children, we toured a large building behind Premalatha’s home, where the girls study and pray in the mornings and afternoons. As we were walking to the large main room, I was overwhelmed by such an intense smell of smoke that I had to turn around and go back outside. Come to find out, the kitchen is right next to the study area, and smoke from burning wood had filled the room, making it hard to breathe. Premalatha said she wants to update the kitchen with gas stoves to cut down on the smoke and the need to store wood, but she has no funding for the upgrade.

As Luis and I continued to talk with Premalatha, I learned that the hostel needed more than just an updated kitchen – the girls sleep on the floor and are in need of beds, mattresses, cots, and linens. They also need mosquito nets to make them less susceptible to mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria. The roof was also leaking and in need of patching.

It was apparent that the girls at the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel are really in need – even more so than I had seen of our sponsored children earlier in the day. The project had a desperate feeling to it, but I knew that Premalatha and the other administrators are working hard to try to improve the lives of these girls, who otherwise would not be getting an education, and maybe not even eating, if they were still living with their parents. And the administrators’ hard work was paying off: despite the difficulties they face, the girls are excelling academically.

Before we left, we met with a girl named Sita who has graduated from high school and finished her undergraduate studies, and is now studying to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work, thanks to the help she is receiving from her sponsor. It was great to meet her, and feel a glimmer of hope for these girls. She is a shining example of the power of sponsorship, and the ability for children to excel even when extreme poverty threatens to hold them back.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

 You can sponsor a child in India in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.

Stark Differences Between Neighboring Countries

I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving to India after having spent a week visiting our affiliated projects in Sri Lanka. India was a place of wonder to me. Most of what I knew about the country was statistical information about its enormous population and the extreme poverty Indians face; of the 1.2 billion people living in India, an estimated 23.6 percent of the population lives on the equivalent of $1.25 or less a day. I was curious to see what more I would come to understand about India on my first trip there, especially when it came to the differences between India and Sri Lanka in terms of educating children.

India was established in 1950 after gaining independence from Great Britain in 1947. A developing country, India has seen a lot of economic growth since the 1990s, and in more recent times, its unemployment rate has fallen, thanks to a focus on the retail industry, agriculture, mining, and information technology (IT). Despite the upward swing in the country’s economy, India is still considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank.

Children become good friends when they are living together at the Chandrakal Home.

Much of the poverty has to do with the inadequate education system in the country. Almost half of India’s population drops out of school by the age of thirteen, probably so that the adolescents can work to provide an additional income for their families. Unlike its neighboring country, Sri Lanka, where education is of the utmost importance, with a literacy rate of over ninety percent, India’s literacy rate is only 63 percent, meaning many poor children are not being educated early in life, when it is crucial for them to be in school.

Arriving in Hyderabad

When Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I arrived in Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Telangana and the fourth most populous city in India, I expected the scene to be overwhelming. What I found instead was a modern airport, with an open design both inside and out. The highway leaving the airport felt just as airy – the traffic was light, and the road system was expansive and organized.

It didn’t feel much different from the experience I had when I arrived in Sri Lanka, except for one aspect – the amount of housing that we saw on either side of the highway was astounding. It was the first indication that we were in an incredibly populated part of the world, which was unlike Sri Lanka, whose population is only around 21 million people – or 5.7 percent of India’s population. The landscape was blanketed with concrete apartment buildings as far as I could see, many of them twenty stories high; and this scene went on for an hour, before we reached the city.

Once we arrived in Hyderabad, the differences between it and Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, were more obvious. Whereas we didn’t see beggars on the streets in Colombo, we saw multiple ones at each stoplight in Hyderabad. The traffic was dense and chaotic, and smog from the cars was thick in the air. It was more of what I had expected of India – busy and crowded, with signs of extreme poverty, which we didn’t see in Sri Lanka.

India’s literacy rate is only 63 percent, meaning many poor children are not being educated early in life, when it is crucial for them to be in school.

Doing more than sponsoring kids

Early the next morning, Luis and I left to travel the four hours it would take us to get to the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home, which is run by the Methodist Church of India. Located in the western region of the state in the small town of Chandrakal, the home was founded in 1950 by an American missionary named Lillian Woodbridge. With a mission to educate boys and girls from needy families, the home currently boards around 500 children, and is much larger than any of our projects in Sri Lanka.

As we left Hyderabad, the highways turned into narrow rural roads, where we saw livestock and large fields of rice and corn crops. Hindu temples lined the newly-paved road. Luis told me that the last time he was in India, the roads were not nearly as nice, and he was pleased to see the progress in the country – progress that we had also seen in the newly-built roads and highways in Sri Lanka.

When we arrived at the home, we were greeted by the children, as well as by our Volunteer Coordinator, Pearl. Pearl has served the church for fifteen years and has been at the home for three. As she showed us around the complex, she explained that there were a relatively even number of girls and boys living at the home who attend elementary, middle, and high school on the property.

Young girls who live at the Chandrakal Home

She talked about how if it weren’t for Children Incorporated sponsors, many of these children would never get the chance to go to school, and would never receive an education. It is a great relief for parents, who are mostly low-paid farmers, and who are unable to pay the entire monthly fee for room and board and tuition, to receive help through sponsorship.

Sponsorship isn’t the only way Children Incorporated has helped the home over the years – the high school building was built about ten years ago, thanks to one of our special donors, as well as an addition to one of the girls’ dorms. Our donors also purchased the cots on which the girls sleep; and a few years ago, Children Incorporated funds were used to purchase a generator so that the children could have electricity at night to study after dark. Since then, the home has installed permanent electricity, though the generator still comes in handy.

An old home in need of repair

I was impressed with how large the compound was, and how many buildings it contained; but everything other than the newly-constructed additions was very old and in need of a lot of repairs. I remembered that some of our projects in Sri Lanka are also in older buildings, but they are still in good shape. Some of the buildings at the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home looked as though they should be torn down and rebuilt entirely.

A few even looked unsafe to enter. Many of the classrooms are in need of roof repairs, and some of the rooves leak badly enough that the rooms are unusable. When Pearl told me that some of the buildings are more than sixty years old, I understood why they were in such bad condition – they hadn’t been repaired since they were constructed, when the home was founded.

Before we left, I asked Pearl about the difficulties of educating children in India. She said that many families want to send their children to school, but there are few schools near rural areas like Chandrakal. Unlike Sri Lanka, where there are schools close by for children to attend during the day, and then return to their families each afternoon, in India, children have to go far away to a boarding school and stay full-time, which parents often cannot afford.

There are just not enough schools for the number of children in the country, which makes it that much more difficult for those living in extreme poverty to get an education. It occurred to me then that although I was trying to compare the two countries because they were close to one another, they were worlds apart when it came to educating children.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN INDIA?

 You can sponsor a child in India in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in India that is available for sponsorship.