The Child Survival Program in a tiny village in India may not be vastly different from hundreds of other Compassion centers around the world, but to this community it is a powerful, unique and tangible demonstration of God’s provision and an essential lifeline for mothers and their children.
Villagers speak the Bhil language, which has no written form. They are classified as tribals by the government. They remain close-knit and marry only within their community. They worship animistic spirits and believe sickness represents the spirits’ anger toward the people.
Major illnesses are ignored by the family, and the sick family member is left to die without any medical help. But many ailments are simply the result of insufficient food and malnutrition.
The village is a primitive agricultural community with no clean water, no sanitation, no electricity, no streets, no medical facilities and no modern transportation.
Abuse of arrack, their home-made alcohol, is commonplace. Understanding and practicing hygiene is absent from local customs.
To discourage theft, a family’s animals are brought indoors at night to share the living quarters, contributing to a dangerous health environment for the entire family.
Yet in this desperate corner of India, God is moving through the Child Survival Program. Program workers take the village women to a nearby hospital for regular prenatal and postnatal medical checkups.
Most pregnant women in the project are anemic and underweight, so the program additionally provides iron tablets, tonics and calcium tablets, and pays the medical expenses.
Hepshiben Parmar, the Child Survival Program coordinator, elaborates on their duties.
“Twice in a month we monitor the growth of fetus as well as the development of children. I am a qualified nurse and Mrs. Swetha, our Implementer, a qualified nurse trained to check the fetal heartbeat.
If we find any variation from the normal level, immediately we take the mother to the hospital for further treatment. In spite of this, some miscarriages have taken place because pregnant women are forced to do heavy work in the fields.”
Demonstrating the powerful love of God by serving the village families is the heart of the Child Survival Program’s mission.
“We pray before food distribution. When we go on a house visit we pray for the respective child.
We teach them the importance of the true God and knowing God personally.
We teach them how the love of God leads us to help others.
“The Child Survival Program deals with the most difficult and sensitive issues in this tribal area where many social evils are still rampant.
In a community where giving birth to a girl child is considered a bane and where child care is negligent and taken for granted, the Child Survival Program’s role is laudable and paving a way for healthy living and a prosperous community.”