Ramya comes from Singarayakonda village. She is the eldest daughter in her family, and has one younger sister named Kavya. Her father, Prasadu, use to work as a mason laborer, but after two brutal appendix operations, his body was no longer strong enough to handle the demands of the job. To top it off, his hard work — from dawn to dusk, every day — only yielded pennies with which to support his family. In order to take on the role her husband could not fill, Ramya’s mother,, Mahalaxmi, went to work as a daily laborer. In the weeks that followed this sadly familiar tragedy, the children stopped going to school. It simply wasn’t possible for Ramya’s family to fund her education. Time passed, and soon an additional problem arose. Mahalaxmi stopped going to work, due to increasing health problems. A consultant doctor discovered that she had been suffering from a hernia, and informed her family that surgery was imminent and necessary. Worried, her family took out a loan for her surgery, plunging them further into debt.
As things worsened, Prasadu heard about CCDC and approached a village social worker. He asked us to support his children’s education, knowing that without school, Ramya and Kavya could be forever trapped in the situation that their parents were in — indebted, poor, and uneducated. CCDC instantly accepted, enrolling Ramya in a local school. Now Prasadu works as a van driver at the school where Ramya is studying, and gets to watch his daughter every day as she walks to class, full of joy and hope. Every month Prasadu is earning 6000 rupees, far more than he would have made as a mason. With this newfound financial boost, he is back to providing for his family and supporting his daughter’s studies.
For the past four years, Ramya is has benefited from our CCDC, learning and growing every day. Now she is 9th grade and studying very hard to achieve her dream: to become a teacher. She wants to be a beacon of light to children who need knowledge and teaching, like CCDC is to her. Ramya wants nothing more than to stand with her family, and support them like a good daughter does. We are thankful for Ramya’s unbreakable spirit, and can’t wait to see her succeed in the new life she has because of education.
Luxurious granite and marble slabs are found and mined in Thimmanapalem, India, where Vandanamala lives with her extended family. Vandanamala’s father, Davidu, works both as a mason-laborer and in a granite factory, lifting heavy granite slabs to be polished, in an attempt to earn enough to support the family. Unfortunately, as an unskilled laborer, all his hard work brings in very little money. Vandanamala’s mother works tending cattle to do her part to help support the family.
Although both of Vandanamala’s parents work very hard, their combined income does not fully meet the needs of their family of eight, so they have absolutely nothing leftover to pay for school. Over time, Vandanamala’s parents had lost hope of seeing their children get the education they need for a good future. As daily wage laborers, her parents’ maximum earnings clock in at about $4 a day. This is around fifty cents per person, per day, to provide shelter, food, medicine, clothing, etc. When school is at least $2o/month per child, you can see how far out of reach it is for families like these.
Then CCDC came to the village of Thimmanapalem. Davidu heard about CCDC and, after consideration, approached a social worker to request our help in funding his children’s education. The CCDC staff in Thimmanapalem was delighted to have Vandanamala and her younger sister, Samarpana, become part of the local center. CCDC assists with Vandanamala and Samarpana’s school fees, so the girls can finally attend school. Both of the sisters are thrilled to learn, and love studying, playing, and growing alongside their friends.
After school lets out for the day, Vandanamala and Samarpana come to the local CCDC of Thimmanapalem. With full bellies from a hot meal, the girls receive help with homework, and tutoring from a qualified teacher, something that illiterate parents are unable to do. Because of CCDC’s help, they have the chance to escape the life of an uneducated laborer like their father and mother. Vandanamala is a brilliant young woman, who wants to be a doctor when she grows up. CCDC is the catalyst to help her achieve this dream.
Haveela Rani is the middle child in a family of eight. She lives with her parents, grandmother, and four siblings in Takkelapadu, India. This large family is supported primarily by her father, Zacharia, through his work as an auto rickshaw driver. Though he was once a mason, he took out a loan and bought an auto, which he drives for a meager Rs. 300 per day (less than $2). Sadly, this income is never enough to provide for his family.
To add to their struggles, Haveela’s grandfather fell into a coma following a serious illness. Zacharia had to take out another loan on top of the auto loan, to pay for continuing treatments. Despite efforts to save his life, Haveela’s grandfather passed away after 8 months in a coma. But the treatment was expensive, and it left Zacharia with a large debt to the money lenders.
In the midst of their grief, a CCDC pastor met with the family and offered to send their children to school. Zacharia gratefully agreed to send Haveela to CCDC. This took an enormous burden off of the family’s shoulders. Now, Haveela’s family lives in government housing near CCDC. Zachary attends Haveela’s parent/teacher meetings without fail, and the family goes to church regularly.
He tells us ‘It is by God’s grace that my eldest daughter Kumari has a seat in the government’s residential school. Now Haveela is being educated by CCDC, and she is given good English lessons, extra food, and safe transportation to and from school. I praise God for CCDC and for the education it is giving my daughter.’
Her mother thanked us, saying, ‘I am glad that Haveela is shown love and care at center, and given her evening snacks — especially the boiled egg and glass of hot milk. It is not an easy task to raise girls and send them to school, not in India. We are so grateful that CCDC shares in our sufferings and provides education for Haveela.’
Haveela is now in kindergarten. In the beginning, she used to skip her classes, but now she enjoys school, and attends every day. She has many friends and loves to play games outside. Haveela is very athletic and is excited to continue her studies, thanks to CCDC. We are so grateful for the work we get to do in raising up the young children of India.
Annangi Vamsi is from a remote village called Alagayapalem. This village is 2 kms away from the beautiful Bay of Bengal. Most families here depend on the fishing business for their livelihood. The rest of them depend on daily labor work, either in agricultural fields or as masons. Vamsi comes from a dalit community, also called a scheduled caste. Over 744 tribes in India have been given this status by Indian government for political representation. This caste is considered to be the lowest in society. The scheduled caste families are very poor and mostly depend on daily labor works.
Obviously, Vamsi’s family struggles financially. His father, Srinu, is a mason and gets Rs. 300 per day for his hard work. Despite this meager income, Srinu still has to meet every need of his family. Because he struggles to even find food, he has no time to consider the educational needs of his children.
On top of this, Srinu began to suffer from severe stomach pains. Days went by, and he started vomiting blood. Finally, Srinu consulted doctor, who discovered that Srinu had ulcer in his stomach. The doctor recommended surgery, but because of the family’s financial status, Srinu was worried about the treatment. But Srinu’s life was at stake, so the family agreed — he would go through with the surgery.
After the treatment, Srinu was unable to work, dragging his family deeper into poverty. To support the family and pay for the multiple medical bills, Vamsi’s mother started going to work. Even with this, her income couldn’t make a dent in their debts, leaving her in despair. But the village CCDC intervened, accepting Vamsi into their program, and relieving the family of some of their burdens.
Vamsi has been growing in CCDC under our complete holistic care. He is in Ukg (Upper Kindergarten) and has proven himself to be a quick learner. To Vamsi, every morning is new and exciting and he is thrilled to head to school. Vamsi dreams of being a police officer, and with education, he can be just that. We hope that CCDC will be able to support his dreams and pave the way for the bright future that lies ahead of him.
Help in Times of Need
Most of the Indian population is below the poverty line. These are people who do not have the basic skills to work a fulfilling job. The career options for rural India are very limited — most people work for daily wages, performing backbreaking labor for almost no pay. They earn a very meager income and lead miserable lives, lacking some of the most basic necessities. For many, any attempts to better the situation drives them further into debt. This story is a familiar one to Ram Charan, because it is his own.
Ram Charan’s father, Srinu, is a tractor driver and earns Rs.400 (about $2.50) a day. He previously worked for a landlord in his village, Thakilapadu. Landlords are generally people from a higher caste, who employ people from the lower caste to do any of their trivial jobs. The caste system is still very much alive in India, and it specifically affects everyone who lives below the poverty line. Ram Charan’s mother was an agricultural laborer. Even with their combined income, they were unable to make ends meet. To remedy this, Srinu took a debt from a farmer in the village. But because their bad financial situation continued to worsen, they could not pay back their debts. Srinu was unable to handle the pressure and started to drink, which led the family into more trouble.
CCDC sensed this need in the community and offered to enroll Ram Charan in school. Education, they said, was the key to saving their child from a life of hopelessness and worry. Fortunately, they agreed with CCDC and enrolled their son immediately. Ram Charan now attends a reputed English medium school. He is in 1st year. After school, he comes to the CCDC, where he receives evening tutoring, learns many stories and songs, play with his friends, and eats a hot meal. Ram Charan is phenomenal at his studies and has risen to the top of his class, making his parents and his CCDC family proud.
CCDC has been able to intervene in situations like Ram Charan’s. These families walk through a lot of brokenness and worry, so CCDC wants to step in and help ease the burden. With CCDC, these families can concentrate on growth instead of hopelessness, and their children will rise to a better place in society, which in turn, gives them a future that is not bogged down by pain and strife.
Merry Christmas from everyone at CCDC! Your love and hope for our schools have changed lives, time and time again. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best Christmas gift anyone could give.
To give the gift of education to 580+ children in rural India, visit this link.
We drove for twelve hours before reaching Ongole. The roads wound through village after village, down paths and onto highways, and in the early hours of morning, we reached our destination. Ongole is bustling with activity even in its quietest moments — filled with street vendors, children, bicycles and animals. And on a small road out of town, is ICM’s school, where we lived during our stay.
Team India hailed from all different parts of the U.S., and we were all united in our utter confusion — we had no clue what was in store. In early 2015, we were Team Nepal, going to work in the streets of Kathmandu, until the earthquake destroyed most of the city, and wrecked the majority of the country of Nepal. In the few weeks before we left, our team was diverted to Hyderabad, India, where they redirected us to Ongole.
Our team was told in the rickety van, “when you work at CCDC, your one goal is to reach Ongole.” I thought this was clever. And sweet, because they knew their purpose. It was full of kindness and generosity towards children. Before we even entered into a center, I was already face-to-face with ICM’s love for the young ones of India, and love for their mission.
Arriving at the centers was the most solidifying experience of all. I was unsure, at first, of my role on the team and my role in the country. But sharing an afternoon with these children, as the sunset dimmed over the village and crept into midnight, changed everything. They are so full of life. They love to shout, and dance, and share everything they have.
I brought my polaroid camera along with me — it was a graduation present & I was keen on using it here. And if only I could describe the shrieks of joy when the children found out just what this thing does. Before I knew it, I was surrounded and mobbed by children — even the ones who initially shied away in a corner — all who were shouting, “me!!!! me!!!!”
Within minutes, I had run out of film. I loaded in another & away they went, snatching the camera from my hands and dancing with it around the room and out the doors. I didn’t see it for the rest of the night, but a girl named Bibi returned it before I crawled into the car to head back to the base. The film had been used up once again.
When I think of heaven, I think of people like Solomon, who keeps the grounds at the school base, sweeping and mopping on his hands and knees. This will always be my picture of good work on earth. I think of the children who are living beautiful and full lives, thanks to CCDC’s work. Materialistically, they may not have much, but in their hearts, most things are precious.
Before I left, a boy of about six tugged on my arm and asked me to follow him. It was nearing midnight by then, and most everyone had gone home. We went down a dirt path with no light to guide us, and into a house with no doors at the edge of the village. He took me into the room, all painted blue, and motioned towards his mat on the ground. We both fell to our knees on the stone floor and he flipped it over, showing me a hole that had been cut into the material. Inside the mat was a polaroid from that night, of all of his friends and me. I keep a copy of it in my wallet to this day.
Today, I am so happy to be a part of CCDC’s work in a long-term way. It seems difficult for us to clearly imagine the world in which these children live, when most of us come from a place that is far more comfortable than villages outside of Ongole. It is hard to imagine what our donations and prayers look like to CCDC on a daily basis. So if nothing else, remember what I was told a year ago: “our one goal is to reach Ongole.”
Share in this beautiful opportunity with us. Just like the widow’s mite, there is no offer that is too small.
One of the core values of CCDC is holistic restoration of the children. We want to bring them up in good health and in the knowledge of cleanliness. In rural villages, there is little knowledge of proper sanitation in and around their houses. Many have no choice but to work in unhygienic conditions all day long. CCDC has taken the initiative to teach and train the children and their parents in cleanliness of their surroundings and themselves. This will help them stay safe and healthy. More healthy days means more days in the classroom!
One of our other health initiatives is to check the children’s height and weight, to make sure they are at a healthy BMI. Unlike the population in the U.S., the children in the rural areas are malnourished. We want our kids to be their best, and that means making sure they are healthy! This quarter, the children at Gudluru and Thimmana Palem were checked. Providing good nutrition and conducting regular check ups of their height, weight and their blood test are all part of holistic development. We care about the whole child!