[above] CBM is partnering with local churches in India to provide educational support to rural children.
ndia’s economic growth and contribution have been noticed around the world. News headlines recognize its information technology successes, space and missile initiatives, and the growth of its educational institutions and businesses, to name a few. However, there are two sides to every coin: while economic growth takes centre stage, the poorest of the poor continue to live in India – especially in rural areas.
According to a 2011 census in India, the number of children living outside of urban centres is high. A survey of more than 470 million children under 18 years of age found that about 74 percent were living in rural settings. Children from impoverished families that rely on subsistence farming face various risks: discrimination based on caste, limited access to education, poor health and sanitation, malnutrition, disease, child labour, sexual abuse and exploitation.
Girls, however, are especially at risk – they face discrimination from their mother’s womb. Although banned in India, sex-selective abortion and female infanticide is apparent. In some families, girls are considered a financial burden in light of dowry costs – an ancient practice that has been illegal in India for decades. Girls are also at risk of early marriage, which results in higher infant mortality and maternal mortality rates.
Partnering with local churches in India, CBM strives to bring hope, healing and reconciliation to children at risk – both in word and deed. Last year, CBM worked alongside its newest partner in the country, Alempang Baptist Church in Nagaland. This congregation serves among the Mising community, the second largest indigenous group in the province of Assam. In addition, CBM continues to support rural children and their families in partnership with Soura Baptists and Oriya Baptists in Odisha, as well as Elim Compassion Ministries.
Children living in rural areas often struggle to access education. In remote regions, government schools and well-trained teachers are limited. Poverty among rural families contributes to high dropout rates among students. Heavy rains, floods, festivals and health issues also hinder students from pursing an education.
In India, CBM works with rural congregations to empower children and youth to learn and acquire skills training. Through tutoring centres at local churches, more than 1,800 students access afterschool support – including help with homework, one-on-one mentoring, and periodic testing to assess comprehension levels. For children with illiterate parents and limited resources, assistance from qualified tutors helps students to thrive in school.
Now, students are improving in their studies, building confidence and expressing a desire to pursue higher education. Tutors and church leaders are also establishing relationships with the families of their students – allowing local churches to better serve within their communities.
CBM is addressing the challenges faced by kids at risk by helping them to break the cycle of poverty through education. As a result, opportunities for better jobs become available to them in the future. For girls at risk of early marriage, education gives them hope to pursue their dreams. This demonstrates the heart of integral mission: healing the brokenness of kids through the demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ – while giving them opportunities to stand on their own two feet. In fact, this has been a witness to many parents in the communities where we serve in India. Together with local churches, CBM is bringing the kingdom of God to children at risk.
PRAYER POINTS: As CBM continues to serve children at risk in India, please pray for the following:
- An increase in the literacy rate among rural children
- A desire among children to improve in their studies and pursue a higher education
- An understanding from parents that education leads to a better life for their children
- The strength and endurance of local churches to empower children in need
Suraj Komaravalli serves as Team Leader for CBM’s ministries in India.
He lives in Hyderabad with his wife, Prasanna, and their two daughters.