ChildFund has worked in India for more than 60 years. During this time, we have seen India expand to become one of the world's largest economies, growth that seemingly continues unabated. Although conditions have improved in India's poorest areas during recent years, economic disparity remains one of the country's most pervasive problems. Faced with a rapidly growing population and the pressures of widespread industrialization, India can be a difficult place to live for millions of children, particularly those in rural areas. Many children come from broken homes and abusive backgrounds, situations that are exacerbated by the struggles of living in poverty.
According to UNICEF, the issue of children's rights has become increasingly urgent since 2000, when the Millennium Declaration of the United Nations explicitly called for improvements to children's safety across the country. In addition, India's other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to tackle social issues that have gone unaddressed since India's rapid economic expansion began in the early 1990s, such as the eradication of extreme poverty and child hunger, achieving access to education, promoting gender equality, advancing women's rights and reducing child mortality.
Although progress has been made in several key areas, including the near eradication of polio and increased literacy rates and primary school enrollment, millions of children are still at risk. In light of prolonged financial difficulties, some children are vulnerable to human traffickers and forced labor, as families try to earn enough money to survive.
Since 1951, ChildFund has helped more than 1 million children in 1,600 communities in India. Over the years, we have partnered with 75 local and regional organizations in 15 of India's 28 states to protect children and provide them with access to the nutrition, health care and education that they need to become healthy and productive adults. A cornerstone of our efforts has been the introduction of children's clubs.
The focus of this initiative is to empower vulnerable children and youths through education. At children's clubs, young people learn about a variety of topics, including children's rights, nutrition, health and hygiene, enriching their lives through community outreach and advocacy. As a result, children and youth have the tools to improve the quality of life in their communities. Children's clubs have planted vegetable gardens to provide nutritious food for early childhood development (ECD) centers and also have dug drainage ditches that improve sanitation and hygiene.
Children are not the only ones to benefit from ChildFund's programs. Parents also learn valuable skills that will enable them to take better care of their children and offer them the opportunities they themselves lacked in their youth.
"I'm raising my child differently to how I was raised," says Kumari, a 27-year-old mother from Chennai. "ChildFund set up mothers' clubs. We meet regularly to learn about immunization for our children, breastfeeding, preparing nutritious meals, registering births and personal hygiene."
To invest in the future of India's children, please consider sponsoring a child. For just $28 per month, you can help us provide children in need with access to food, health care and education, all of which will help them emerge from poverty.