In Eastern India's Rural Plains 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.
Small-scale farming is the main source of work. But the region’s unpredictable weather, fluctuating between flood and drought, often leads to crop failure and food shortages.
Some adults work in the many rock quarries found in the region or in other menial jobs that pay between U.S.$1 and $3 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.
Children at Home
Homes on eastern India’s rural plains are made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, mud, thatch, tin or plastic sheeting.
These small homes, usually only 100 square feet, must accommodate families of up to seven members.
The homes typically have no access to electricity, and during monsoons or cyclones they are often damaged or destroyed.
It’s also not unheard of that elephants will destroy a home, looking for grain to eat.
Issues and Concerns
- In eastern India’s rural plains region, most people engage in small-scale agriculture, but the erratic rainfall makes this a precarious livelihood.
- In some areas, flash floods from annual monsoons wipe out crops. In other areas, lack of rain is just as devastating. As a result, many rural plains dwellers move to urban areas in search of work, only to find themselves in a worse situation.
- Some people on the plains find work in the large quarries or do low-paying jobs such as fishing, serving as porters or housemaids, or selling fruits and vegetables in the markets.
Local Needs and Challenges
Clean water & sanitation
Children commonly deal with chronic malnutrition and diseases such as hepatitis, malaria and bacterial diarrhea caused by unsanitary living conditions and the consumption of contaminated water.
Medical attention is largely inaccessible to poor families.
Most schools are overcrowded and undersupplied. They also lack qualified teachers. As a result, children typically don’t advance beyond middle school.
Schools and Education
- Educational levels in this region are low, with few students advancing beyond middle school.
- Often children leave school to work and help provide for their families, or to care for younger siblings while parents work.
- Children attend school in one of two shifts, either in the morning or the afternoon.
- Because of poor pay, there are few qualified teachers, and up to 80 students may be under the care of one teacher.
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, balanced meals as well as medical checkups.
The centers also enable children to attend school by providing tuition, uniforms and supplies.
Children’s education is bolstered by extra tutoring so they can excel academically.
For parents, the centers conduct programs to raise awareness about the value of education for their children, as well as the negative effects of alcoholism, domestic violence, early marriage and child labor.
Centers also provide caregivers with training on improved farming methods and income-producing endeavors.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to impoverished children in eastern India’s rural 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