Santhy holds her 2-year-old daughter, Swetha, in their home in Vellanguli, India.
A single kerosene lamp throws shadows into the corners of a small home in India. Santhy Dhaktchanamoorthy stands over the stove, stirring a few precious vegetables into the rice and curry that will feed her family for the day. Little Swetha, Santhy's 2-year-old daughter, sits on a mat and happily builds a tower with blocks.
Through the window, Santhy sees a familiar face coming up the path. "'Akka' is coming," she says with a smile, and Swetha claps her hands at her mother's joy.
No Bad "Time" to Be Born
"Akka" (elder sister), Santhy's Child Survival Program (CSP) Child Care Associate, visits Santhy in her home twice a week. During these visits, Santhy learns how to monitor and influence Swetha's growth and development, how to keep her home clean to prevent disease, and how to prepare healthy, nutritious foods that prevent the malnutrition that affects so many children in her village.
One of the keys to the success of the CSP program is education. The mothering skills of many women in Vellanguli are largely dictated by superstitions. Mothers like Santhy believe that their children were born in a bad "time," which causes them to be ill and weak. CSP workers teach mothers that childhood diseases can be prevented or cured.
Project workers also demonstrate to mothers the love of a God who has a plan for all of His children. At Bible studies mothers hear beautiful psalms that tell of a God who knows each hair on the head of their little ones. Many families now attend church, and little ones are hearing prayers and praises from the time they are born.
A Life Improved
At the Rhema Child Survival Program where Santhy attends, mothers line up and hold squirming children who are receiving immunizations and antibiotics. The program provides all children immunizations against nine diseases, including diphtheria, meningitis, whooping cough and polio.
"My daughter is much better now. (She) was very weak and was not able to walk, and now she is active," says Santhy. "Swetha used to fall sick quite often. Now I am able to take her to the doctor for immediate treatment."
Providing for the Future
Mothers at the Rhema CSP are also taught valuable life skills that will help them provide financially for their families. In Santhy's home, a dusty loom sits in the corner, waiting for nimble fingers to once again fly over colorful thread. For years, the loom has been a reminder of the family's financial hardships because they could not afford the materials required to use it. But thanks to Santhy's enrollment in CSP, this mother will also get the materials she needs to become a weaver at home.
Because of the faithful gifts of Compassion partners, Santhy and her family now have hope for their future. She is learning valuable skills that she will one day be able to pass on to little Swetha so this child will be able care for a family of her own.
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