In Eastern India's Rural Mountain Region
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.
In the rural mountains most adults work as agricultural laborers. Others work at such menial jobs as brick-making, gathering and selling firewood or selling fruits and vegetables in the local markets. Rarely do such jobs pay more than U.S.$1 to $2.50 per day.
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.
Through the country, 33 percent of the population lives on U.S$1.25 per day or less.
Children at Home
Homes are simple constructions made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, mud, thatch, tin or plastic sheets.
These small homes, usually measuring 100 square feet, accommodate families of up to seven members.
Each home usually has one or two rooms and a small front porch.
Typically, homes are surrounded by wood fences with dry leaves shoved into the gaps.
Issues and Concerns
- The villagers in eastern India’s mountain region earn a living primarily from farming. However, they don’t own the land and must pay rent to the landowners.
- Some people work at other menial labor jobs, such as brick or pottery making, gathering and selling firewood, breaking stones manually for construction sites, or selling fruits and vegetables in the local market. The pay is the equivalent of only $1 to $2.50 per day.
- Gambling, alcoholism and early child marriage compound the poverty issue in this region.
- There is no access to electricity here, and families have little understanding of hygiene or simple ways to guard their children’s health. Preventable illnesses, sometimes fatal, are common.
Local Needs and Challenges
The lack of access to water in this region means that children spend many hours walking to and from rivers and streams or waiting in line at community taps to collect water. Often this water is contaminated, causing life-threatening illness.
The lack of adequate sanitation and hygiene awareness also leads to illness.
Due to poor infrastructure, local schools in the region are overcrowded and poorly equipped. Few children complete even a basic education, and few advance to middle school.
Schools and Education
- Illiteracy is widespread.
- The average education is barely up to middle school.
- Children walk long distances just to crowd into ill-equipped classrooms where one teacher must manage up to 50 students.
- Often, children drop out of school to work at menial jobs to supplement their families’ income.
- Because parents in this area are uneducated themselves, they don’t recognize the value of education for their children.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Working with local partners, Compassion is dedicated to meeting the needs of impoverished children in eastern India’s rural mountain communities.
Each partner-based center addresses children’s malnutrition and ensures healthy physical development by providing nutritionally balanced meals on program activity days.
More important, children are taught by their caring Compassion center staff that they are created in God’s image and that they are valued and loved.
Children learn about their basic rights and practical ways to avoid or report abuse.
God’s love is also communicated by center staff to parents during regular in-home visits and awareness-raising programs. Staff strive to reinforce with parents the negative effects of drinking and domestic abuse.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in eastern India’s rural mountain region, 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