Although Compassion has been working in the southern regions of India since 1968, the impoverished regions of the north became part of the ministry in the summer of 2002. A second country office was established in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and already, 35 new centers have been established in five northeastern states and 3,900 children have been registered into Compassion's program. During the next year, the goal is to increase the number of projects and register an additional 4,000 children by summer 2003.
The northeastern states of India are primarily inhabited by indigenous tribal people who face the worst living conditions found in the entire country. Nearly 10 percent of children born in rural communities die before they reach age 5 and the average life expectancy is 61* years. Only 80 percent of the people in rural communities have access to clean water, and only 15 percent have access to adequate sanitation facilities. With an average per capita income as low as U.S.$96 per year, the children in these communities are truly the "poorest of the poor." Food, education and medical assistance remain an anomaly.
Hope in Bangladesh
Despite its small size, Bangladesh is the third poorest country in the world (behind India and China) and one of the most severely impoverished countries in Asia. Over 60 million people in this primarily Muslim country live in extreme poverty. Each year, nearly 323,000* children under the age of 5 die and a full 56 percent of all children are malnourished. In addition, two out of every five children leave school before they learn to read and write and over 7 million children under the age of 14 are forced to work.
But, the evangelical Church in the country has been growing and is eager to help the millions of poor children. As a result, evangelical leaders in Bangladesh asked Compassion to begin providing our program of holistic child development through their local churches. Compassion has enthusiastically responded and is laying the groundwork for establishing a country office, selecting a country director and staff and recruiting and training local churches. Our goal is to have several centers up and running by December 2003.
*Statistic from the 2004 State of the World's Children
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