Entries in India (31)
We've shared often how much your letters are treasured by your child. Your words of encouragement may be considered your child's most cherished possession.
Recently, some of our staff visited our programs in India. While asking some of the children if they saved letters from their sponsors, several of the project staff spoke up.
They had once been sponsored children themselves, and they still had the letters to prove it!
Many of these young women, now on staff at the same project that had served them as children, continue to treasure the letters they received from their sponsors even though several years had passed!
Does this photo help you understand how powerful your letters can be? The impact of your letters can last a lifetime -- especially when you incorporate Scripture into your encouragement!
A little more than two weeks ago, we asked you to pray for the children in our care in a region called Coastal Orissa in northeast India as a super cyclone came ashore, devastating this impoverished area.
Cyclone Phailin’s force as it made landfall was comparable to Hurricane Katrina – and given the fact that most people lived in fishing villages in simple structures of thatch and tin, the scale of this disaster is vast.
We’ve received an update on the damage to the communities our projects serve. If you’d like to help us respond to the urgent needs in this area, please consider making a donation to the Children’s Crisis Fund. Here are a few of the ways the children have been affected in the wake of the storm:
- In some areas, the storm surge was between 6 and 12 feet high. Many people took shelter in our schools during the storm, yet the buildings also sustained significant damage. Many of the buildings lost their roofs or windows, and classrooms were damaged by the winds and rains.
- Families in this region tried to make a living by fishing; the storm not only destroyed their homes, it swept their fishing boats out to sea, leaving many without means to earn an income.
- Food is scarce and expensive – the cost of staples like onions and potatoes has risen 600 percent. Most families are living off of dal (lentils) and rice. Currently the projects are feeding the children each day (even if school is not held) but there is not enough food to feed their parents and siblings, too.
- Thankfully, the government is trucking in clean water twice a day, but it is not enough to sustain people. In some areas, our projects had wells, but many are now filled with sand or polluted with runoff and not suitable for drinking.
- Sanitation methods were destroyed, putting people at increased risk for illnesses – whatever water that was left has stagnated; many doctors fear an outbreak of cholera.
This is why the Children's Crisis Fund (CCF) is so important. It enables us to respond quickly to meet the urgent needs of families who may have lost everything. We can also use the CCF to help projects repair damage, allowing ministry to the children to continue during a critical time.
As always, we will contact you if your sponsored child was directly affected by Phailin or by any other disaster. Your sponsorship, combined with measures like the Children's Crisis Fund, help meet the needs of your child who otherwise may be overlooked in times of disaster.
Your prayers for the children and their families in Costal Orissa are as valuable as ever. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support for the children!
Thank you for your prayers for the children and those who serve them in India!
We praise God that so many people were able to evacuate (more than 1 million people fled from the coastal region in the cyclone's path) and so many lives were spared given cyclone Phailin's scope and strength.
However, the storm response and clean-up are just beginning. We have received preliminary word from our country staff about damage to some project buildings. Several families also lost their homes, especially in the coastal fishing villages.
As is the case with any natural disaster, we will notify you if your sponsored child is directly affected. We appreciate your patience as the project staff continues to check on areas damaged by the storm; most of the power lines were destroyed and train service disrupted, making communication difficult.
Please join us in praying that those whose homes were damaged can find shelter and food as they begin rebuilding efforts. Water sources may have also been contaminated by flood waters, so please pray for the health of the children and their families.
You can help us respond to natural disasters and medical emergencies by giving to the Children's Crisis Fund. And thank you, as always, for your prayers and support!
Our staff reports that several thousand people have been evacuated from the fishing villages along the coast, and news stories mention that as many as 500,000 people had been evacuated before the storm hit.
Tropical Cyclone Phailin is considered a severe storm, with winds well over 100mph; it is expected to dump at least 4-8 inches of rain in most areas. In strength and size, Phailin is considered comparable to Hurricane Katrina, and the area in which it made landfall is home to thousands who live in simple homes made of thatch and tin. Bangladesh is also receiving massive amounts of rain as the storm surges.
(The Medical Mercy team that was serving in India this week is departing from another region and is thus far unaffected by the storm.)
Please pray with us for the safety of the children and their families, for our staff who have families of their own, and for our projects that often become places of refuge in times like this.
You can help us respond to the crises wrought by storms such as Phailin by making a donation to our Children's Crisis Fund. Every donation helps us meet the immediate needs of families devastated by disasters and illnesses.
Thank again for your prayers, and for your partnership for the benefit of the children!
In our latest update from Dr. Beyda, he tells us the story of a child he met and why numbers aren't the only way they measure success.
So let's see. Over 1100 children seen in 4 days, one more day to go. I wonder what impact we'll have. It's not about the numbers – although we all are intrigued by the number, me included. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, a sense of completion.
Really? Not so fast. It's really about the reason why and the way we do what we do, and what the children receive. I'll let you decide what all those things are at least from the stories you read here. For me, it is simple. We have a reason why: to serve; and the way is to give of ourselves and do our best to ensure the health of the children. Today is an example.
We are still in a remote area of India, isolated and far from a big city. We saw about 320 children today, many still presenting with stunting, the product of severe malnutrition before the age of 5 years. One child in particular, the child you see above, is one of those. She is 8 years old and is the size of a 5 year old. She is chronically ill, has a persistent cough, pneumonia, may have TB, no appetite. A lack for life. She had no breakfast this morning. There was no food in the house. The parents have been "quarreling" according to the child, the mother is sick, and the father is rarely home.
She is a sponsored child, and because of that she is one of the lucky ones. She gets a noon-time meal Monday through Friday because of the partnership One Child Matters has with a school that she attends, and she is cared for by OCM staff. Medical Mercy now gives her a chance for health. I gave her medications, put her in our follow-up system, and the local OCM staff will follow closely and send me a report in 2 weeks as to how she is doing. We did a full nutritional assessment on her, and she'll be assessed every 6 months so I can see how she is doing. Without the medications, the follow up, the care and the intentional effort to get her better, she would pass away slowly and alone. There in lies the why and the way. She will do well, she will survive, she will grow and she will be able to live her life to her potential.
We have one more clinic tomorrow. We'll see a couple of hundred children and finish out the week with a "total number." But more importantly, we will finish out the week having served and leaving behind a chance for the children to see a lifetime of love.
The Medical Mercy team continued to serve children in our programs today, and Dr. Beyda shares the difference sponsorship can make for children in poverty.
Whatever the reason, life comes at us from directions unexpected. Today I expected to travel on a bumpy road, to a project with significantly impoverished children who longed for a decent life. That is not what happened today.
We travelled to our clinic site, saw about 185 children, identified a number of children in need of advanced care, and participated in the feeding program watching the children eat their meal that is given to them by One Child Matters daily. We noticed that because of this program, the children were much more nutritionally on target for their age as compared to the children yesterday.
And here is where the expectations turned to the positive. Since we were in a locale much poorer than where we were yesterday, I expected to see children who were sicker, more malnourished, more impoverished. The children were in fact a little sicker, more impoverished but relatively well nourished and well-adjusted despite the conditions they lived in. They were happy, content and interactive.
The two projects that the children came from today embraced a holistic approach in giving the children what they needed and deserved in order for them to experience life to their fullest potential. It is because of the dedication of the teachers, the project leaders, the pastors and the local One Child Matters leadership, that the children were moving in the direction of personhood and worth.
One child who was born with a significant discrepancy in leg length had surgery a few months ago that One Child Matters financially supported through our Children's Crisis Fund to correct his gait. He walks without a limp now, is self-confident and plays with the other children. It is things like this that make what we do worthwhile. Giving a child a chance to be a child.
The team worked flawlessly. After yesterday nothing could slow us down. Everyone made the most of their individual talents and served the children. We leave tomorrow for another remote area and will be there for a few days. I'll wait to see where the road takes us. No expectations this time. I'll go where the road leads us and trust that it will end in a safe haven for children who have had little and now have something. Love and caring.
We are so grateful for this medical team and for all of you who make sacrifices to improve the life of a child and ensure they know they have tremendous worth in God's eyes.
After 30 hours of traveling, the Medical Mercy team arrived safely in India with all their luggage -- praise God! They had an afternoon of orientation to prepare for their first set of clinics. Here, Dr. Beyda recounts their day:
Every now and then we have a day that we want to forget -- or remember. A day that is so out of the ordinary, so different, that it strikes a chord in our hearts and minds and plays a tune that makes us smile or gives us pause. Today was one of those days.
Not knowing what to expect, we drove almost 2 hours to a remote province where we walked down a dirt road to a hidden school, a haven with children waiting. All were in uniform, white shirts, pants, skirts and blue ties for both boys and girls.
We were surprised. Where were the poor and the isolated? Where were the malnourished and the weak? Where were the sick? Wait for it. They were there, but hidden behind smiles and a sense of community in a school that offered an education and an opportunity to pursue a better life than the one the children were born into.
And now here is what's behind the uniforms and the smiles. Severe effects of malnutrition resulting in stunting. A 9 year old who was the size of a 6 year old. A 12 year old who looked like a 7 year old. Short stature with long-term effects. Healthy looking on the outside but compromised for life due to malnutrition before the age of 5 years, a deficit that cannot be made up now. Girls who will deliver prematurely once they become women and get pregnant. Boys who will grow up with weakened physiques limiting them to vocations that they may not be given an opportunity to succeed in. The pictures here are of how children are affected. The tragedy behind the veil of presumed health.
We left feeling like we impacted lives. First aid training given and first aid kits left behind. A water filtration system left behind. Dental hygiene taught and toothbrushes left behind. Medications given and left behind. Children with illnesses identified who needed advance care sent to facilities who could help. Love and validation that they were children who deserved nothing less than that they were children who were treasured and cared for and cared about. All 462 of them.
Yes, we saw, played with, treated, cared about, and loved on 462 children. Today. What a day. A day of sadness behind our smiles knowing that the children were going to be stunted for the rest of their loves. A day of happiness for leaving something good behind. A day so out of the ordinary that it made us both smile and give pause. Bittersweet, but what a wonderful day all the same.
We praise God for the attentive care the Medical Mercy team provides for the children we serve. Although many children in India are physically stunted, we know that your sponsorship and the support you provide can ensure a child's success is not dependent on their physical stature. Thank you for all you do to help the children, and please continue to pray with us for the Medical Mercy team!
Please join us in praying for the Medical Mercy team which leaves tomorrow for their third trip to India. Medical Mercy last served children in India in January of 2012. Dr. Beyda shared how they choose where to serve and what they expect to do during this trip.
I am often asked how and why we choose the countries we go to. It is not that complex. We go where we think the greatest need is for the children at that point in time. So off we go to India, to a different location. South, on the very tip of India where One Child Matters has several projects with many children who are in need of medical care and nutritional assessments. A team of of several doctors and more than a dozen nurses and lay members will be leaving.
I remember India well. The children have an aura of the unkempt, many with bags under their eyes, sunken and void of emotion, and with hair that is coated with dirt. I remember the times that we were faced with making critical decisions as to whether we could help a child or not. We did most of the time.
Sometimes we can’t for reasons that may surprise you. No medical facility to send the child to that can offer the medical interventions that are needed and sometimes (yes, hard to believe) parents who don’t see the need to pursue medical treatment, believing instead in an obscure spiritual healing that is contrary to the evidence that there needs to be a partnership between medicine and religion. It is then that I realize that the critical moments in life always arrive with astonishing suddenness and then they are gone without us being able to do anything about them.
I try to make the right decisions for my patients but there are times when I am in a moral gray area. How far can we go with limited resources and realistic outcomes? It’s the age-old battle between mind and heart, which seldom want the same thing.
We will see over 1500 patients in five days if all works out as planned. I pray that as we serve those who come to us for help, they will be comforted by the fact that whatever we do, it will be a validation of who they are: persons. No judgment, no pity, simply caring and love. For me, each day that we are with them, we validate that the power of the human spirit and faith can endure any challenge, no matter how daunting.
We will post updates from the team as they are able to send them -- sometimes the internet does not always cooperate. But as this special team ministers to the children in southern India, we hope you join us in prayer and praise God with us for the way He equips His people to meet the needs of others.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people gathered to demand equal opportunity: they marched "for jobs and freedom." Martin Luther King, Jr.'s moving proclamation -- what we now call the "I Have A Dream" speech -- has challenged and inspired this nation ever since.
As we remember that powerful time in U.S. history, we also look around the world at the countries we serve and are reminded that many children are denied opportunities to achieve their own potential at nearly every turn, often due to circumstances and cultures that formed long before their time.
Dreaming is a rare privilege for children living in extreme
poverty – but as sponsors, we’re in the dream business. The faithfulness of your support opens doors once forcefully closed for children living in rural Kenya and the refugee camps of the Middle East and other areas around the world.
In the slums of Delhi, India, we have several projects who have seen how sponsorship nourishes the dreams of children.
In the neighborhood where Husni grew up, darkness and hopelessness seemed to be everywhere. His father was a day laborer and struggled to find enough work to support Husni, his brother and three sisters. When his mother learned of the child development center opening, she rushed to enroll young Husni in the program for young children. Because of the lack of stable income, the family could only afford to send one child to school, and that was Husni.
Husni’s family faced many challenges. His father died in 2007, leaving only his mother to care for the children. She began selling vegetables house to house to try and make ends meet; Husni’s brother fell in with bad company and became an alcoholic.
Husni worked hard to help his mother, but he never let his dream of finishing school die. The staff and teachers at the child development center inspired him and kept him on steady moral footing through the Bible teachings. Many of Husni’s young friends became aimless and ran in the wrong crowds, but not Husni. Because of the influence of the teachers and staff, Husni knew that he was a young man with purpose and promise.
As Husni matured and succeeded in school, the project staff recommended him for a diploma program in computers run by the government of Delhi, and Husni was accepted! He continues to help his mother and always dreams big. “I want to achieve great things in life, and I want to help other children who are suffering and have no one to stand with them,” Husni says. “I know that whatever I am today it is because of this program and the love of my sponsor.”
Aleemah also lives with many dreams, but this was not always the case. Although her family was considered part of an upper caste and middle class, things fell apart after her father became mentally ill and began wandering the streets. With no income, Aleemah’s mother tried to become a day laborer but could not make enough to feed Aleemah and her older brother and sister. The family lost everything.
Moving into the slums of Delhi was difficult on everyone, but Aleemah’s mother suffered the most. A month before her death, Aleemah’s mother went to the local One Child Matters program and pleaded with the staff to take care of her children if something happened to her. After their mother died, Aleemah and her siblings were forced out of their rented room and had nowhere to turn but the child development center.
Aleemah looks back on that time as the valley of death, but now she looks forward to a great future. “I could see the hand of a living God as I studied and understood that the Bible talked to me. The loving God was taking care of me, and I could not help but fall in love with this great and mighty God.”
“My God and my sponsor stood with me during these hardships, they helped me find hope and life,” she says. Aleemah is finishing her 12th grade and wants to become a nurse to help other children. “One Child Matters helped snatch me from death and hopelessness,” she shares. “I have been sustained and educated, and I live with a purpose. And I am eternally grateful.”
You can also help a child rise above the fear and hopelessness of extreme poverty through sponsorship. Sponsors are tangible reminders of God's love during the most formative times in a child's life. Thank you for considering the unique opportunities sponsorship provides for children who can go forward with purpose, because they often go on to selflessly help others!
Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. If you sponsor a child with a Muslim background, what does that mean for daily life?
More reflections from the Medical Mercy team in India. Although the internet is too intermittant to allow for many pictures, we are grateful to nurse Anne Braudt for the word-pictures she paints. Here are a few haunting glimpses into the clinics and the surrounding environs.
A new update from the medical team in Orissa, India, who are seeing just why one child matters.
Expect the unexpected. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. It’s never what we think. And that is what the day was like. Not the flow of the clinic, nor the attitude of the team, or the dynamics of seeing another 300 patients today, but it was the patients.
Smaller in stature than yesterday, a little sicker, and their stories that were far from the norm. There were a lot of wonderful ones, children being seen, hugged, sung to and with, prayed with, and played with. That was the majority. The evidence of compassion and love for the children we saw was everywhere.
But like it or not, it is the occasional unexpected encounter or worst case scenario that puts the whole day into perspective. That things happened and whether we like it or not, we are faced with it to deal with. Three children stood out:
One child whose only complaint was that he was depressed. He lives in boarding house for children who are single or double orphans (one or both parents having died). He received news in the manner of a letter addressed to him that his father died recently.
Another child had with him a picture of his parents taken a while back. He was 10 years old. He showed me the picture and asked me if I had seen them or knew anything about them. He hadn’t seen them in 5 years. He woke up one day and they were both gone. He lived in the street until he found a home in the village that we were in. He was taken in by a kind family. I looked at the picture and couldn’t find the words to speak. I simply shook my head no. He shook his head as well as he silently cried. I hugged him and prayed with him. He left, the picture still clutched in his hand.
And the third child 6 years old. I asked her if I could take her picture and if I could show others to witness to her that she was as much a child to be valued and recognized by all. She was hesitant at first, but then said yes. Burned by falling into a pot of boiling water at the age of 3, she survived as you see her here. She told me that she won’t look in the mirror. She is the daughter of a fisherman and his wife, the lowest class of a caste system in this region. Poorer than poor.
She was not a One Child Matters sponsored child, but one of the children in the village who came to us for medical care. I realized that if she wasn’t embraced and surrounded by a loving community, she would be lost to the world. Never marrying, being ridiculed, and maybe even worse -- being taken advantage of, or even taking her own life later on.
One Child Matters has a vision and mission to care for those children who are less than fortunate, to prove that one child matters. This child is one of them. She is now a One Child Matters child, and sponsored. I am humbled to be able to be part of her life from now on.
In all things give thanks,
Another update from Dr. Beyda on Medical Mercy's first day of clinics in India:
Sometimes we’re focused on the big picture…and lose sight of the details.
The big picture: 300 patients today, day one of clinic. Due to the incredible pre-planning of the India support staff, we set in motion a medical clinic with both old and new members getting into the swing of things very quickly.
Dental hygiene, water filtration, first aid education on one tract, nutritional assessment in another. Medical exams in a third tract, and pharmacy dispensing meds in their tract. A total of 50 people making this happen. The US team, Indian support team, interpreters, teachers, and helpers all working together to see 300 children. That was the big picture.
Now focus. Stunting affects over 60 million children India. Stunting is when the child’s height does not match the age. Short, small, little growth, and nutritionally depleted. In this picture you see Jeremy on the right, a healthy 13-year-old US boy. The Indian boy next to him is also 13. He is one of 60 million children in India who are stunted. Can we help? Not in the sense of getting him to grow anymore, but we can simply assure him that despite his size, he is as valuable a member of the community as anybody else. We did that. He smiled, became animated and we focused. On him.
Polio is still prevalent in India despite the availability of vaccines. Poor compliance and a lack of awareness and education yields what we see here. A brace, old style, bulky, uncomfortable, worn for life. No physical therapy. She asks if there is a way to make her leg stronger. The hard answer is no. What we can do is make her life more comfortable by getting here a new brace, one that is light weight, comfortable and less obtrusive. We’re working on that.
Focus. We did alright for the first day. The big picture is clear. There are a lot of children here who need to be cared for. One Child Matters is doing that. It is the details of the picture, the areas of the picture that are difficult to see that Medical Mercy is focusing on. The individual child, their needs, and how they live as it relates to their health care.
We’ll stay focused the rest of the week and look closely at those who we come to serve. Our eyes will be strained as a result, but our hearts will be filled.
In all things give thanks,
Medical Mercy is starting the new year right where they left off: bringing hope and health to children in our projects around the world. Dr. Beyda is asking for prayer for this trip. Here are the details:
Tomorrow we leave for India. A team of 18, medicines, equipment and excitement.
We’ll be in the southern part of India along the coast off the Bay of Bengal based in a small town called Puri, population 150,000. Puri is well known as a pilgrimage site for Hindus with their many gods. That will tell you something.
We’ll be going to 4 projects seeing the children and the villagers, expecting about 500 patients a day, diseases and illnesses common to the areas in an underdeveloped country.
We’ll be running simultaneous “tracts of care” in each: nutritional assessments, first aid training, implementing a water filtration system, medical examinations and treatment, and vitamins and de-worming medicines for all. It’s amazing to see the tracts running in parallel, patients moving from one tract to the another, and finally exiting with an opportunity for spiritual counseling.
We all know the saying “what are we bringing to the table?” when we talk about negotiations and relationships. What is it that we “bring” that will be valuable to the other person? In this case, it’s obvious. Medical care, pure water, vitamins, first aid kits, and prayer.
But here’s where I like to go a little off the path. I am always aware of “what we bring,” but I am more acutely aware of “what we leave behind.” It is the memories, the interactions, the changed lives, the improvement of what sometimes is just an existence for those we meet.
It is the power of prayer, the introduction to a God who is singular in His reign, and at times the new believer that we leave behind. And so it begins tomorrow. We’re bringing much…I’m excited to see what we leave behind. Be with us.
In all things give thanks,
Your sponsored child may live halfway around the world, but you have more in common than you think in terms of Christmas traditions... especially food! We even included some recipes if you'd like to try something different this year!
Water affects so much of your child's life -- is there enough to wash up before school? Is it safe to drink? Can I go out and play? What season is your sponsored child experiencing right now, and what does that mean for daily life?
Our sponsored children are creative beings, inventing games or tweaking rules of established sports to accomodate their resources. From simple to high-flying, these games sure look like fun!