ChildFund first came to India in 1951, and since our arrival, we have seen the country go through tremendous change. As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, India is a nation of diversity and opportunity, but many communities are still mired in poverty. Their children often lack access to basic education, without which they will struggle to emerge from poverty. Early childhood development (ECD) is at the core of ChildFund's mission, and we continue to work in some of India's poorest areas to ensure that children in need get the start they deserve.
ChildFund currently operates a range of ECD programs in 14 states across India. In this nation of 1 billion, we have established 1,915 ECD centers across the country, serving the needs of more than 61,000 children.
Families benefit greatly from the training programs provided at our ECD centers. In the past year alone, more than 142,000 mothers in India attended sessions covering a variety of topics, including play and stimulation, healthy cognitive development, detection of potential developmental disorders at young ages and positive parent-child relationships. In addition, parents have learned about a range of health care subjects, such as prenatal care, hygiene and sanitation.
ChildFund's ECD centers in India are focused on all aspects of children's development, which requires attention to their health and their environment. In communities where ChildFund works, food scarcity and poor sanitation place children at greater risk of contracting diseases. To combat these problems, our ECD centers also serve as places where children receive nutritious food; last year, 6,000 children ages 0 to 3 who were diagnosed as malnourished came to centers for meals.
"Initially, the community had no knowledge of safe motherhood and early childhood development practices," says Yadav, an ECD tutor in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. "ChildFund conducted health camps and home visits to raise awareness about safe motherhood, early childhood care and good nutrition. Since then, mothers take care of their infants' health as well as their own. Two years ago, a third of children attending the center were severely malnourished. Today, no child is severely malnourished."
ChildFund's work is making a real difference in the lives of children across India, but we need your help. Please consider making a donation to our Children's Greatest Needs fund or supporting Indian schoolgirls with bicycles that will help them get to school on time.