In Eastern India's Urban 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 exist under the weight of crushing poverty.
In the eastern urban mountain region, poor families often migrate to large cities from rural villages in search of jobs and a better standard of living.
Typically uneducated and unskilled, they are forced to work at whatever menial day-labor jobs they can find, rarely making more than U.S.$2 a 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.
Children at Home
Homes in the city slums of eastern India’s mountains are simple structures made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, mud, thatch, tin or plastic sheets.
These small homes, usually measuring only 150 square feet, must accommodate families of up to six members.
Houses typically have one or two rooms and a small front porch.
Slum housing doesn’t usually have electricity or other public services such as garbage collection.
Issues and Concerns
- The rapid influx of people from rural areas has led to insufficient employment in these urban centers. Those who work are usually laborers at construction sites or vendors in local markets.
- Few employers abide by minimum-wage laws and generally pay less than $2 for a full day of backbreaking labor.
- Common social problems include gambling, alcoholism other and substance abuse.
- Early child marriage, gender discrimination and polygamy are also issues.
- The unsanitary living conditions in the slums are hazardous to children’s health. Kids frequently suffer unnecessarily from such preventable illnesses as bacterial diarrhea, which can prove fatal to the youngest children.
Local Needs and Challenges
Children’s health is threatened on a daily basis by the lack of access to clean water and by their unsanitary environment.
Some children stand for hours in long lines to collect water from community taps — hours that could be better spent in educational or other developmental pursuits.
Schools and Education
- Few children in urban slums advance beyond a primary school education.
- The teacher-to-student ratio is about 1 to 60 in primary grades. There are even more students per teacher in secondary classes.
- Many public schools lack sufficient building space for each grade to have its own classroom. It is common to find four grades crowded into the same room.
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 so that they can excel academically.
For parents, Compassion centers provide programs to address child neglect and domestic abuse issues.
Centers also provide marriage and parenting guidance.
Through various income-generating training programs, centers strive to empower parents to obtain stable, viable sources of income so they can provide for their children’s needs.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to impoverished children in eastern India’s urban 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