The children at Souri Child Development Center squeezed together under the thatched-roof shed, safe from the wind and rain. They eagerly anticipated the visit of the local political leader of the ruling party and a few other political leaders.
The political leaders were visiting the center to address the children with words of encouragement, as the local leader himself is from the same region. He had a vision to develop the area and uplift the future of its children.
Souri is a tribal village in eastern India surrounded by mountains and small creeks. It is very remote, with little development. The primary schools don’t have teachers available on a regular basis, and the health-care center struggles to attract doctors from the city.
The native villagers are mostly illiterate, and engage in cultivation. Only a few have traveled outside of the colony in search of better jobs.
With so many struggles here, children who grow up in this community face a bleak future.
During his visit, the political leader walked through the community to reach the center, and he was saddened by what he saw: groups of children helping their parents in the field or just roaming aimlessly. But when he reached the Compassion-assisted child development center, he was heartened.
He and his party were greeted by little children who each had a piece of flower garland in their hand. As the party members walked around, they saw the thatched-roof shed with no covering on its sides, where children sat and sang songs.
Children were dressed in nice, clean uniforms, and they stood up to greet the guests in one voice: “Good afternoon, sir.”
Talking with the children, the leaders were so impressed with Compassion’s child development work through the center that they promised to give 150,000 rupees for the construction of a new building. Said the local leader:
“The state government has not done much to reach out to the needs of the poor people here . . . Giving a new building will not lead to the development of the children here, but it will definitely provide a proper shelter where children can build their dreams by exercising their talents without fear, when children find themselves in safe boundaries, their minds work well and it helps in their overall progress.”
Before the child development center program was established, Souri village was completely undeveloped. Souri people would have many children so they could have may workers to help them in the fields and in the houshold. But they lacked knowledge how to instill in their chidren good moral values.
Children were left on their own as parents left home early daily to work and cultivate fields. Parents didn’t understand the significance of sending their children to school, and children were often neglected.
Most families could not afford to send their children to school because of their small incomes and large families. Today, children registered at the center are the first generation of learners.
There was also a large spiritual void among the people of Souri village as they are workaholics. They did not think attending church or participating in church activities were important. They would find an excuse to work and to skip church on Sunday. They never used to pray, let alone read the Bible.
Children at the center are taught how to pray, to participate in Sunday school activities, to sing songs, and are told stories from the Bible that depict God’s love for them. When children return home, they teach their parents and siblings what they learn, especially to pray before meals and sleep and to thank God after waking up in the morning.
Many families have been transformed through their children. The children have so influenced their parents that the parents have started coming to church on Sundays now. Many parents are also volunteering to participate in various church activities.
The children have become healthy and are growing very fast. They relish and enjoy the nutritious hot meal the center provides every morning before the children leave for school. The daily meal consists of rice, lentils, a mixed vegetable, and fish, egg or chicken served on alternate days.
Without this meal, most of the children get to eat only a bowl of rice with some potato for dinner as that is all their parents can afford at home.
In the program children are coached on basic manners, etiquette and socializing skills to help them live in harmony and love with others in their community. The center organizes a parent meeting once every month to teach about various issues that can become impediments to children’s development.
Children age 12 years and older are encouraged to set realistic goals and document them in their “My Plan for Tomorrow.” The church staff members also sit with each child to help identify the child’s interests and motivate him or her in that direction for the future.
At the end of each year these goals are measured and evaluated, based on the child’s progress. This helps children know where they stand so they can press toward their goal zealously with confidence.
The essence of sponsorship is far above the monetary gain that it provides. It involves relationship-building over a period of time. It provides an opportunity for both the sponsor and the beneficiary to unite their hearts and partake in one another’s joy, sorrow and celebration.
Sponsorship is a prayerful commitment made by you to care a child and for their family over the long term. You help to alleviate difficult living conditions lurking around by providing hope through education and encouragement through letters and gifts.
“Given a chance and opportunity, our children have the potential to become future leaders of this region to further development work and to help many more children and families come into the mainstream of the society.”
— Maijo, center coordinator for Souri Child Development Center