In Eastern India's Urban Plains Region
Geography & Climate
- One-third the area of the United States, India occupies most of the Indian subcontinent in southern Asia.
- India borders 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 exist under the weight of crushing poverty.
In the eastern urban plains region, rapidly growing cities attract people from the countryside with the promise of jobs and a better way of life.
However, typically unskilled and uneducated, poor migrants settle in sprawling slums and work at low-paying jobs such as pulling rickshaws or serving as housemaids.
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 $1.25 per day or less.
Children at Home
The shantytowns in the plains cities consist of makeshift dwellings made from scrap materials, including bamboo, mud, cardboard, plastic sheets —whatever can be found.
These small, fragile one-room dwellings are home to families averaging six to 10 people. Typically, several families share one toilet.
People in shanties along the sidewalks or under overpasses use the gutters as toilets, causing a terrible health hazard, particularly for children.
Issues and Concerns
Most of the working poor in urban centers are unskilled laborers — rickshaw pullers, construction workers, housemaids and street vendors.
These jobs pay the equivalent of only $1 to $4 per day.
Often the poor who have moved from rural areas to find work in the cities find themselves living in shanties on the sidewalks, beneath overpasses, in dumpsites or along railroad tracks.
The unsanitary living conditions in these shantytowns put children’s health at great risk, causing such preventable diseases as hepatitis and malaria.
Local Needs and Challenges
Because of deep poverty children in urban centers of the plains region often work, sometimes at extremely hazardous jobs, to help improve their families’ economic situation.
Clean water & sanitation
Urban children also commonly deal with chronic malnutrition and diseases caused by lack of clean water and adequate sanitation. But when children get sick, parents cannot afford to seek medical help.
Because of India’s rigid caste system, sometimes the impoverished, low-caste children suffer from discrimination.
Schools and Education
- Educational levels in this region’s urban centers vary, depending on financial status.
- Adults in poverty are often illiterate and prefer to have their children working rather than going to school.
- Children who attend school go in one of two shifts, either in the morning or the afternoon.
- Good teachers are lacking in public schools, and there may be 45 and 60 students per class. That means children often do not receive the individual attention they need to excel.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion’s partner-based centers in eastern India’s cities enable children to overcome the limitations of poverty.
To foster physical development, children are provided regular, well-balanced meals, as well as medical checkups.
The centers also enable children to attend school by providing for the school needs that their parents cannot afford, such as tuition, uniforms and supplies.
Children’s education is reinforced by extra tutoring. Compassion centers use creative, innovative methods to inspire children, and they passionately work for children’s holistic development with a team of committed staff.
For parents, awareness programs are conducted to help them understand the importance of education and the dangers of child labor.
Skills training is organized by the centers to assist families with alternative sources of income.
Both children and parents are taught about child protection and different forms of abuse that children are exposed to.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in eastern India’s urban plains 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