Ripple Effect: ChildFund India’s First 60 Years

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By Christine Ennulat, with reporting by Sachal Aneja, ChildFund India
Posted on 4/7/2011

ChildFund India turns 60 this month.

ChildFund’s first project in India, a Kerala boarding school it took over in 1951, was among the early examples of ChildFund’s focus on building future leaders from the most deprived children of all — orphaned children of low-caste “untouchables.”

“Our goal was that in every field of life they should shine!” said A.C. John, business manager for the school in the 1960s, interviewed by Larry E. Tise for A Book About Children: The World of Christian Children’s Fund 1938 – 1991. “They had a contribution to make to the community. They became leaders in their communities and the church because of their good education, even though they were outcasts and were at first accepted in society with reluctance.”

 Photo of preschool-age girl from India, smiling.

Now, 60 years later, ChildFund India operates out of 30 field offices, with its headquarters in Bangalore. With 75 local partners, ChildFund India is improving the lives of 1 million children and their family members across 15 of India’s 28 states, partnering with more than 400 grassroots organizations. ChildFund India also supports 1,000-plus children’s clubs that mobilize to improve their communities in a wide variety of ways, such as raising awareness around issues like education and child marriage.

“ChildFund India has evolved as an organization over the six decades of its presence in India,” says Dola Mohapatra, ChildFund’s national director for India. “We have successfully been able to move away from being seen as having a welfare mindset toward being known for building capacity as well as organizational strength at the community level. Ensuring program quality and implementing programs effectively have been key to our journey.”

Our goal was that in every field of life they should shine! They had a contribution to make to the community ... even though they were outcasts and were at first accepted in society with reluctance. 
 — A.C. John, former business manager of ChildFund’s first project in India 

The anniversary celebration kicks off this month with a Youth Summit, where youth specialists from 10 countries where ChildFund works will consult with young people from around India as they develop a package of youth programs. A concert will showcase young voices, and youth groups from various states will be sharing their experiences through theater, music, dance, audio-visual productions and diverse folk culture performances.

  Photo of two youth in India, smiling.
 ChildFund India supports more than 1,000 children’s and youth clubs.

Further events are planned for later in the year throughout the country. ChildFund India has named the yearlong celebration “Spandan,” which translates to “pulse” and evokes the ripples made when a stone is dropped into water.

Meanwhile, ChildFund India continues working to improve at all levels, promoting and ensuring the healthy participation of children and their communities in every aspect of ChildFund’s programming. In short, ChildFund India looks to keep growing and refining its work.