In India's Rural Regions
Geography & Climate
- One-third the area of the United States, India occupies most of the Indian subcontinent in southern Asia.
- India borders on China in the northeast. Other neighbors are Pakistan on the west, Nepal and Bhutan on the north, and Burma and Bangladesh on the east.
- Climate in the country ranges from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north.
- Terrain includes upland plains in the south; flat to rolling plains along the Ganges; deserts in the west; Himalayas in the north.
Over the last several years, India has experienced impressive economic growth. However, millions of Indians still live under the weight of crushing poverty.
Most villagers work in agriculture, cultivating their own small plots of land or working as laborers or tenants on the farms of more affluent landholders. Spinning and weaving also are common cottage industries.
The meager income, however, generated by agriculture and small village businesses rarely meets even the most basic needs of India’s rural families.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate is 8.8 percent.
The average annual household income is U.S.$6,671.
The child labor (ages 5-14) rate stands at 12 percent.
The population living below the poverty line is 29.8 percent.
India’s huge and growing population is overstraining natural resources.
Throughout the country, 33 percent of the population lives on U.S.$1.25 per day or less.
Children at Home
Homes in India’s rural villages typically are small structures made of mud or bamboo sticks tied together for walls, with dirt floors and thatched roofs.
Homes are simple, with few furnishings.
Most homes lack electricity, running water and toilet facilities. Only a fifth of rural Indian homes have adequate sanitation. Usually a secluded area on the edge of a village is designated as its community toilet.
Issues and Concerns
- The pervasive poverty in rural India takes a toll on children’s health. More than one-fourth of all babies are born underweight, and nearly half of all children younger than 5 are malnourished.
- India’s caste system means that children born into what is considered a low station in life face a lifetime of discrimination and few opportunities to advance.
- Child marriage is also common in India’s rural communities. Since girls are often considered an economic liability for impoverished families, the practice of female infanticide (the killing of infant girls) is not uncommon.
Local Needs and Challenges
For children growing up in rural areas, limited diets of maize, beans and rice hinder physical and mental development.
Common health problems include skin diseases, malaria and tuberculosis.
Basic necessities such as running water, sanitation, electricity and access to health care facilities are often not available.
In rural villages, many children may not advance beyond a primary school education as they are frequently taken out of school to help their families earn money for food.
Schools and Education
In the past, only children in cities had the opportunity to attend school.
But the government is establishing primary and secondary schools in India’s villages to ensure that children in rural areas also receive an education.
Many private schools are also being built in rural areas.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion’s local partners in rural India are dedicated to providing children the resources and learning opportunities they need to escape poverty.
At each partner-based center, children are provided regular nutritious meals.
Their medical and educational needs are also met.
The caring center staff also spend quality time with the children, listen to their problems and encourage them spiritually.
Children also are given opportunities to interact with, support and learn from each other, and the development of their creativity and talents is encouraged.
Awareness programs for caregivers help them develop healthy family relationships and parenting practices.
Literacy programs are also conducted at some centers, as well as counseling for parents with addiction problems, a widespread issue in rural India.
Centers also coordinate with other organizations and government agencies to provide helpful services for the families, such as health screenings and HIV awareness programs.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in India’s rural regions, providing them with:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- health and hygiene training
- access to special services like surgeries and disaster relief
- mentoring to help children discover their incredible value as God’s children