Today, September 5, marks the International Day of Charity. However, at PM-International each day is a new opportunity to share our love and support for children around the globe. Among others in Bundi in the western part of India, where 800 of PM’s sponsored children live.
Thanks to all your generous support, in the beginning of 2019, we were able to launch our own Area Program (AP) in Bundi, together with our long-standing partner organization World Vision. These long-term regional development projects are running for approximately 15 years. They are planned and implemented together with locals, with the overall goal of self-sufficiency. This way, we do not only support our sponsored children, but all direct and indirect beneficiaries of the region. In the AP Bundi, this amounts to more than 50,000 people.
Lacking the Bare Necessities
There is a lot of work: The state of Rajasthan, where Bundi is located, ranks sixth from last in World Vision India’s child well-being index. The biggest challenges are health, nutrition, and the access to clean drinking water. 80% of the children in Bundi are affected of malnutrition. It is the single biggest contributor to child mortality for children under five years, as malnourished children are more prone to infections and recover more slowly from diseases. In addition, better education and income opportunities are needed in order to create a brighter future for the local children.
One of our 800 sponsored children in Bundi is four-year old Aman. He is living in a local village together with his parents and two older sisters. Growing up, Aman had always been frail, but at one point he weighed below 10 kg and still lost weight every month. He was no longer able to sit up straight on his own, and his appetite had vanished to the point where he didn’t even want to eat biscuits anymore. For his mother, Deep Kawar, it was a terrible situation: Knowing that something was seriously wrong with her little son, but not having clarity about what the exact problem was or how to help him get better.
Luckily, she was not alone. Suman, a local health volunteer appointed by World Vision, helped her to take Aman for a check-up at the Malnutrition Treatment Center at the Bundi district hospital. Deep Kawar learned that her child was not suffering from a disease, but severely malnourished and in need of immediate treatment as an inpatient. At the hospital, the doctors struggled to give him an injection, as there was hardly any muscle left.
When returning home after his hospital stay, World Vision supported Aman in three ways: He received a “Food Basket” containing dried grains for another six months. He also joined a local early childcare center, which provided him with one healthy meal per day. At the same time, Aman’s mother took part in a 12-day health and cooking program in her village, initiated by World Vision. In these trainings, mothers learn hygiene practices and new recipes using locally sourced ingredients that normally get thrown away. Did you know that radish leaves can be used to prepare a nutritious meal? Most people in Aman’s village work as day laborers in the fields and can barely afford to eat vegetables every other day. Knowledge like this is essential to help families in the area to provide their children with essential nutrients.
Hope for a Better Tomorrow
Thanks to this support, Aman’s health has improved significantly. The diligent follow-up and monitoring by the World Vision volunteers show that he consistently gained weight with no relapse. Today, Aman is strong enough to play with his friends and sisters and take part in the activities provided in the childcare center.
His story also shows the great value of World Vision’s approach towards self-sufficiency: By involving communities at every level, and teaching them good nutrition practices, World Vision and its health volunteers are not only fighting malnutrition in the present, but also creating a sustained change for the future. Maybe one day, Aman himself will give classes for young mothers and help to further improve the living conditions in his village.
There’s plenty of work left to do, but if we all work together, we can create a brighter future for children like Aman. And we are well on track: Our next goal is to sponsor 500 additional children in an AP in Peru once PM reaches one billion $ turnover. The more we grow, the more kindness we can spread worldwide. Let’s go for it!