We began our ministry in India in 1968 with a program that was a precursor to our current Child Sponsorship Program. In 2003, we started the Child Survival Program, and the Leadership Development Program followed in 2004.
Paul Asveen joined our ministry as Country Director in 2010. Paul came to us with 22 years of combined experience from both the corporate and ministry worlds. For 16 years Paul worked in the banking industry with Citibank — 10 years in India and 6 years in Indonesia. In 2003, Paul decided to devote his energy fully to Christian ministry.
After six years of serving in ministry in Singapore, Paul and his family felt the call to return to India. Paul joined the Christian Institute of Management as their Executive Director in January 2009, a position he held until joining our ministry.
Paul holds a bachelor’s of commerce degree from Loyola College Chennai, a master’s of business administration degree from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, and a master’s of divinity degree from Trinity Theological College in Singapore.
Implementing Church Partners
Implementing Church Partners are local churches in India with whom we work to deliver child development programs and frontline ministry in the field.
- Spiritual Climate
Ninety-three percent of the population is Hindu, and India is often called “Hindustan,” meaning the “land of the Hindus.” The Christian church fights for basic rights and struggles against Hindu religious extremist groups. While Christians in most areas in India face only occasional persecution, there are scattered areas that face adverse persecution.
However, this has only resulted in growth and unification for the church. The church has grown in number every year as a result of ministry programs.
We have faced charges of trying to convert people to Christianity, but we have handled these charges with sensitivity and caution thus far. It is likely we will continue to face such charges.
It is challenging to mentor the beneficiaries who become Christians because they are unable to boldly profess their faith for fear of being thrown out of their homes and punished by the local community. They lose all benefits provided by the government once they become Christians.
For example, the government provides subsidies for education and employment for those living in poverty and those from lower castes. However, these subsidies will not be provided if a person becomes a Christian.
The church also struggles to compete in providing services due to the lack of funds. There are new commercial institutions that are providing services, not necessarily from a heart of service, but in order to gain profit and good standing in the community, and many are choosing to seek services at these institutions rather than from the church.
- Unique Challenges
One challenge unique to our Implementing Church Partners in India is how to make the program relevant to an area that is very large geographically and highly varied culturally. Each Implementing Church Partner is unique, and it is difficult to generalize the program enough so that it fits all Implementing Church Partner’s needs.
Generally, our church partners can be classified as urban, semi-urban, rural and tribal and each has its own challenges and opportunities.
Another challenge is retaining qualified staff with the resources provided.
Implementing Church Partners provide the facilities used for the program, ongoing maintenance and recurring expenses for the facilities as well as spiritual materials and other resources.
- Partner Development Activities
We develop partners in the following ways:
- Partner consultations: We encourage the sharing of best practices and learning experiences among Implementing Church Partners and with the field office.
- Compassion Partners Conference: We hold an event to challenge the churches to address current issues that the children face.
- Bi-annual meeting: The leadership of the ministry in India meet for a minimum of one hour with each Child Development Center Director to provide guidance in handling local issues and to keep the Implementing Church Partner informed about progress and/or expected changes.
- Regular Partnership Facilitator visits with the church leadership.
- Vision casting exercises: These are done with the church leaders and pastors to help them develop growth plans.
Child Survival Program
- Caregiver Literacy
Literacy classes are held monthly during the cognitive development portion of the program. We also offer need-based literacy training because literacy rates vary greatly between caregivers. The caregivers learn the alphabet, how to write their name, and how to deal in the local currency proficiently.
- Income-Generating Skills
Income-generating skills, such as tailoring, weaving, basket making, juice making and goat rearing, are offered either weekly or bi-monthly depending on the caregivers’ needs and the availability of the trainers.
Some development centers have utilized Complementary Interventions to supply machinery and tools for the training.
- Health Care
The Child Survival Program assists every caregiver in accessing and receiving health care. This includes an annual checkup performed by a medical doctor for all caregivers and children, financial assistance for major medical treatment if needed, regular growth monitoring of the children done by Child Survival Program staff, maintenance of an immunization chart for every child, and monthly health awareness programs on topics such as the prevention of waterborne diseases and good hygiene practices.
Caregivers and children receive medical care and immunizations at the local government hospitals and primary health centers, and the Child Survival Program staff follows up to ensure they are utilizing these health services.
- Nutritional Support
Caregivers and children are provided with nutritional supplements during all regular meetings at the Child Survival Program. They also receive training on healthy eating and the use of inexpensive healthy fruits and vegetables. Additionally, we encourage kitchen gardens to improve their nutritional intake at home.
- Involvement of Fathers
A variety of activities are offered for fathers to encourage their participation in the Child Survival Program including special meetings to discuss the role of fathers in the family, awareness programs on alcohol and substance abuse, family retreats that focus on family dynamics and healthy relationships, and counseling, if needed, during the regular home visits.
- Transitioning Out of the Child Survival Program
When a child reaches the age of transition from the Child Survival Program to the Child Sponsorship Program, Child Survival staff meet with the parents to inform them of the criteria and guidelines of the Child Sponsorship Program.
Mothers are asked to attend the monthly parents’ meetings for the Child Sponsorship Program, and once the child is registered into the program, the Implementing Church Partner staff conduct regular home visits to inform the mothers of their child’s progress.
- Areas of Expansion the Child Survival Program
We plan to expand into northern and southern India based on infant mortality rates.
Child Sponsorship Program
Your sponsorship of a child in India provides a variety of benefits.
The schools and Implementing Church Partners are in close proximity to each other, so children are able to spend a good amount of time at the child development center. They enjoy coming to the child development center because their needs are met there.
- Meeting Times:
- 3 to 5 year olds: 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and 4 hours on Saturday
- 6 to 8 year olds: 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and 4 hours on Saturday
- 9 to 11 year olds: 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and 4 hours on Saturday
- 12 to 14 year olds: 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and 4 hours on Saturday
- 15 to 18 year olds: 3 hours a day, 2 days a week, and 4 hours on Saturday
- 19 +: 6 hours on Saturday and public holidays
- Nutritional Support
Most child development centers provide one nutritional meal per day to the children. A typical meal consists of locally available grains, cereal, vegetables and eggs; meat and fruit are sometimes provided once or twice a week.
We provide meals because many children only receive one or two meals a day at home, and those meals are often not nutritious. We also provide special food for children who are malnourished.
The Indian government provides certain vaccinations to all children free of charge, and if there are other vaccinations that are needed, our ministry covers the cost. The Implementing Church Partners have good relationships with the medical staff in their communities, so they are sometimes able to negotiate with the local hospitals to receive the needed vaccinations at a discounted price.
- Extracurricular Activities or Community Service
Children participate in sports, camps and outreach programs. Some children are given the opportunity to visit nursing homes where they spend time with elderly people.
- Vocational Activities
The child development centers network with other organizations to offer vocational training. Students who excel in academics are encouraged to pursue higher education. Some Implementing Church Partners conduct a “multiple intelligence” test to prepare the students to make decisions about their future.
All adolescent children receive some type of vocational training in addition to life skills and English education. Vocational skills offered include carpentry, welding, electronics repair, mechanics, driving, plumbing and electrical work.
- Child Sponsorship Program Alumni Activities
Some Child Sponsorship Program alumni volunteer at their former child development centers, encouraging the registered children through their own testimonies. Some even sponsor beneficiary siblings, meaning they support siblings of sponsored children at the child development center. They also participate in outreach and evangelism together.
- Parent Involvement
Parent meetings are held on a monthly basis and cover topics such as parenting, social issues and the importance of education.
Most Implementing Church Partners also have self-help groups, which are small groups of parents organized for various activities such as income-generating projects.
- Areas of Expansion for the Child Sponsorship Program
We plan to expand into the north, tribal belts, city slums and areas with high numbers of highly vulnerable children. Much of the development in India is focused on the south, and tribal areas are the last to be considered. Development is also focused on urban areas, resulting in over-population and poor conditions in the city slums.
Leadership Development Program
- Universities Attended
Most students attend government universities, but a few attend private Christian universities.
- Location of Universities
Universities are spread throughout the country.
- Working Students
Students do not work while attending university.
- Service Opportunities
Students have the opportunity to join a national organization that has branches on all college campuses, encouraging them to participate in community service activities.
They also join service clubs at their university; some students, such as nursing students, are required to do some type of service in their field of study.
- Leadership Development Program Meetings
The larger Leadership Development Program group meets twice a year to cover curriculum. They also meet every summer to participate in a six-day work camp where they attend special training sessions focused on spiritual outcomes and other country-specific topics. The students hold a two-day outreach campaign as well.
- Specialty Curriculum Topics or Resources
We cover abstinence, sex and sexuality, friendship, courtship, dating and marriage. We also bring in qualified people to discuss health issues, such as HIV/AIDS.
We network with program alumni, existing mentors and Implementing Church Partners to assist students in finding mentors.
- Career Placement Assistance
We work with prominent Christians who are in human resources positions as well as placement agencies to train the students on job placement skills. This helps guide the students and inform them of any job openings.
- Leadership Development Program Alumni Group
The alumni group meets at least once a year to revisit their mission and vision. The group is divided into chapters by region since they are spread throughout the country.
Each chapter participates in advocacy activities at the child development centers, mentoring and encouraging children at the centers by sharing their own success stories. The alumni also participate in Leadership Development Program care groups, engaging with the current Leadership Development Program students and, in some cases, serving as mentors.
Compassion’s core Child Sponsorship Program, while comprehensive, cannot address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. Compassion’s Complementary Interventions program works in harmony with the holistic child development model to provide additional services as needed, such as the AIDS Initiative, Bibles for All Children, disaster relief and water projects.
Complementary Interventions in India include:
- Livelihood opportunities such as agriculture, animal husbandry, skills training
- Access to clean, potable drinking water within 1⁄2 kilometer from the child’s home
- Sanitation, including proper sewage and drainage, disinfecting the environment weekly, segregation of animals, networking with local health organizations in the area of sanitation and community involvement
- Malaria awareness training and mosquito net distribution
- Disaster relief including food supplies, clothing, shelter, tarpaulin sheets, clean drinking water and medicines
Highly Vulnerable Children
The primary Highly Vulnerable Children needs are orphans and semi-orphaned children who are affected by HIV. Our strategy to meet these needs is to focus on home-based care and only consider replacement care in extreme circumstances, to provide for housing needs on a case-by-case basis for child-headed households, and to provide vocational training for beneficiaries to increase their ability to become employed.