Orissa is now known as Odisha, and is an Indian state which is part of a group of states that make up the jungle region of eastern India. Orissa is home to several indigenous tribal groups and represents a wide cultural mix. Orissa is situated by the Bay of Bengal, and is the 9th largest state by area in India.

India East India's Jungle Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Because most impoverished families in this region cook over small wood-burning stoves, women frequently go to the jungle to gather bundles of wood. East India women carrying sticks on head
  • At their Compassion-assisted child development center, these girls enjoy playing a popular board game called ludo. East India girls playing board game
  • This single water pump serves an entire community. During the dry summer months, water levels drop and shortages are common. East India children at water pump
  • Prayer is an important activity at each Compassion center. East India girl praying
  • Children are taught the importance good hygiene, which they then share with their siblings and other family members. East India children washing plates
  • Homes in the jungle region are typically made of mud, with thatched or metal roofs. East India girl at boy outside home

Overview: Eastern India's Jungle Region

Only about one-third the size of the United States, India is home to 1.1 billion people. It is the world’s largest democracy, and only China has a bigger population.

Over the last several years, India has experienced impressive economic growth. However, millions of Indians still exist under the weight of crushing poverty, including tribal groups living in the country’s eastern jungle region. India’s economic progress hasn’t yet extended into this region’s poor villages, where people continue to live in conditions of great suffering and need.

Those who live in eastern India’s jungles are mostly tribal people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Of India’s total population, tribal groups represent about 7 percent. On the ladder of India’s complicated caste system, they occupy the bottom rungs and are traditionally marginalized and discriminated against.

Some of the prominent tribal groups in this region are the Maltos, Santhalis and Majhis. Each group has its own language and customs, and the people are primarily animists, believing in nature worship.


Culture Corner

east india jungle culture


Try this simple dish, enjoyed by children in eastern India’s jungle region.


Cut the leaves of a sturdy leafy vegetable, such as kale, into small pieces. Boil the pieces in water in a frying pan. When they are tender, drain the water. Add a little oil to the pan and fry the leaves until they are crispy. Serve them with rice.



Here are a few phrases you can use when writing to your sponsored child in eastern India.

Aam lagi ying prarthana eidying.
I am praying for you.

Aama oraray jhoto bhagaymena kua?
How is everyone in your family?

Indo bhagay menaiya?
How are you?

Aam chet jo-mem kushi-eya-aa?
What do you like to eat?

Life in Eastern India's Jungle Region

The jungle region of eastern India covers areas in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha (formerly known as Orissa), and West Bengal. This region, home to several indigenous tribal groups, represents a wide cultural mix. Each group has its own dialect and customs, and most follow traditional animist religions, worshiping spirits of nature.

Adults here typically work as unskilled day laborers in whatever jobs they can find, earning meager wages that don’t even begin to meet their children’s needs. Many people face exploitation at work and are denied a fair wage. Eventually this compels them to borrow money and they end up in debt.

Homes in jungle villages are small, simple constructions with mud walls, thatched or metal roofs, and dirt floors. The communities and surrounding neighborhoods in this region where Compassion ministers have limited access to amenities such as electricity and sanitation.

Children at Home

Homes in eastern India’s jungle region are crude constructions of mud and thatch, with corrugated metal roofs and dirt floors. Homes are small, measuring at most 120 square feet and housing families of up to seven members. Commonly there is no access to electricity or adequate sanitation in this region’s villages. Water generally is obtained from a community well, and food is cooked over wood fires.


Community Issues and Concerns East India jungle community

The impoverished, uneducated villagers in eastern India have few options for earning an income. Most engage in subsistence rice farming, but frequent drought makes this a precarious livelihood. Some people have menial jobs, such as selling produce in the local market, working as laborers on construction sites, or gathering and selling firewood from the jungle.

The average daily income of people in the jungle region is the equivalent of less than $2 per day. As a result, most families eat only one daily meal. It is no wonder that one of the primary concerns for children in this region is malnutrition. Also, because of the lack of understanding about hygiene and consuming water from contaminated sources, children here suffer unnecessarily from preventable illnesses, such as diarrhea. Sadly, the medical facilities in this region are few and ill-equipped.

This region is politically unstable, with anti-government Maoist and Naxalite factions often resorting to violence that endangers villagers’ safety. Family life for children is also often unsafe, because alcohol consumption is an accepted cultural practice and alcohol abuse is common.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in eastern India’s jungle region face many challenges in their struggle against poverty. Malnutrition is widespread, and the lack of adequate sanitation and clean water threatens the well-being of children on a daily basis. Domestic violence is also a problem throughout the region, and early child marriage and discrimination against girls are common. Schools are inadequate, and illiteracy is a serious issue. Children often drop out of school to work or care for younger siblings while their parents work.


Schools and Education east india rural mountain education

Public schools in the rural jungle region are of extremely low quality. Lack of adequate pay means there are few qualified teachers. Children crowd into ill-equipped classrooms where one teacher must manage up to 45 students. Often, children drop out of school to work at menial jobs to supplement their family’s income. And because parents in this area are uneducated themselves, they don’t see the value of an education for their children.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers in eastern India’s jungle region, children receive the one-on-one attention from the staff that they often lack in their schools. Tutoring helps them achieve standard academic milestones, and nutritious meals help them avoid malnutrition. The children also learn good hygiene habits to keep themselves healthy. Most important, they have the opportunity to learn about God’s love and His gift of salvation.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion believes that God’s purposes on Earth are accomplished through the church – including His purpose of bringing justice and mercy to the world’s poor and oppressed. That’s why in eastern India, as in every country where Compassion’s ministry is found, our program is carried out through local churches.

Our partner churches in eastern India are on the front lines, reaching into their communities to serve impoverished children and families. After all, who better than the local church understands the real needs of the people in its community?

It is our privilege and blessing to work alongside these committed partner churches in eastern India, encouraging, empowering and equipping them to meet children’s needs, all because of God's love.

How Compassion Works in East India East India jungle compassion in ei

Compassion’s work in India began in 1968 and in eastern India in 2002. Currently, more than 56,500 children participate in 233 child development centers in eastern India.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Indian children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and fulfill their God-given potential.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

As the link between Compassion and the partner churches operating our program, Partnership Facilitators play an important role. In eastern India, one of these dedicated staff members is Rupesh. Previously, Rupesh worked at a local church’s Compassion center. So he knows well the challenges partner churches face in providing the best program possible for the children they serve.

Rupesh has a big heart for eastern India’s children in need. He meets regularly with the staff members of the centers under his care, addressing any issues they have and guiding them in improving their ministry. And when he is back in the Compassion office, he spends time with other Partnership Facilitators, sharing ideas and encouraging each other in their important work.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the health of children living in unsanitary conditions.
  • Pray that parents will understand the importance of education and support their children’s schooling.
  • Pray for adequate rainfall and good harvests for families whose livelihood depends on farming.
  • Pray for the parents and caregivers of Compassion-assisted children who face unemployment or underemployment.