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!
It’s hard to go against the grain. In rural India that is exactly what we are doing. CCDC values every child. We see that each child has the capacity to learn, to change to grow, to make an impact on the world. That starts with educating as many children as we can. We are pushing back against an attitude that things will always be the way they are, that there is no point in educating girls. That young boys will have no other path than in the footsteps of their fathers, footsteps that lead to a hard life of manual labor and poverty.
Meet Sheshma, a smart eleven year old little girl, loved by all her teachers in Orchid school for her humble and keen interest in studies. When asked about her life’s ambition, she says ‘I want to be a doctor to serve my community’. She is the eldest daughter of Shaik Moulali and Mastan bhai, who belong to the lowest caste among Indian Muslims called ‘Dhudekula’. Sheshma is the oldest of three, all being educated, fed and holistically cared for through CCDC.
Sheshma’s mother values educating her daughter, but her father retains the old attitudes about it. He would like to send Shesma to a madrasa (religious school) or to embroidery and sewing training which are common livelihoods for the Dhudekula tribe. According to him formal education is of little value to his caste. When presented with the chance to give his children a way out of poverty, he would rather send his eleven year old to learn a trade.
Part of what CCDC does is teach parents about the value of education. Sheshma’s father has never known anything else. He has never had the chance to dream about a better life for his children, and doesn’t even know how. We meet monthly with parents to educate them on why child labour is harmful, how education helps their families, and other social issues that our team can help them work through. Parents that had started out resistant to change are seeing the changes in their children and realizing how much impact CCDC is having.
Meet Marci. Marci recently connected with CCDC. She spent some time in Hyderabad for work, and saw the heart-wrenching poverty that abounds throughout the region. Marci was truly affected by the children she met in India and has partnered with CCDC to make a difference in the lives of the children in Southeast India. She is starting with making sure they have an amazing Christmas. She has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Christmas gifts, shoes, and Christmas parties for each center. Read Marci’s story on Generosity.com and see if you want to help her make a “A Christmas to Remember”!
“In fact, even my handwriting was very bad.” Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat radio programme. “Probably I passed exams at times because teachers were not able to read my handwriting” He joked. This was published in Indian Express on Feb 23rd, 2015. Yes, handwriting skills are declining very much in this age and soon it may become a lost art. The reason may be the rise and overdependence on digital technology in classrooms, in homes and creeping of emoticons into students’ work. Illegible handwriting may affect not only the performance in class or exam but also reflects on child’s confidence. In fact handwriting is a basic tool to be used in taking notes, taking tests and doing classroom work, laundry list, grocery list, domestic budget etc. In fact handwriting is an all encompassing effort in life.
After observing the children’s poor handwriting at our Child Development Centres, it called for some care toward this particular issue. Margaret White, a handwriting expert once said, “Lack of practice – when you aren’t using a pen and paper to take notes on a regular basis – means it’s easy to slip into bad writing habits, such as gripping the pen too tightly or applying too much pressure on the paper”. The same thought was shared with the Social workers of working on the holding of the pen in handwriting training; and for the past couple of months the social workers are engaged in teaching correct and consistent pencil hold, posture, letter formation, legibility, spacing between and within words, and speed, as children advance beyond the first few grades, so that they can write efficiently in a variety of tests and tasks.
The introduction of special handwriting classes at the CCDCs have proven to be beneficial for the children. Malleswari, one of the children at the Child Development Center has testified to this. To talk about Malleshwari’s background, she comes from a family where her father drives a second-hand auto and her mother works as a domestic servant in people’s houses. With these jobs they haven’t been able to provide fully for their three little girls. Now through CCDC, three of the girls are able to go to school and afford an education, which could only dream of earlier. Malleshwari is thrilled about going to school everyday. She does well in her studies, but she did not have a good handwriting. She was once ridiculed by her friends for her bad handwriting. But she did not give up and slowly practiced, concentrating on the formation of the letters carefully, stroke by stroke. She now says that she enjoys writing. She is extremely happy that her teachers give her extra marks for good handwriting. Malleshwari took this opportunity to not let any hurdle come in the way of her and her dream. She aspires to become a doctor. We pray that as Malleshwari has taken off on this journey, we will be able to provide for her by God’s grace, as much as she needs to fulfill her dream.