Saturday, August 8, 2015

Step Into My World: Semi-Urban India

In the past, India was a country of very big cities or very small villages. However, recently (in statistical terms), India has been growing a new type of region, the semi-urban region. I think the best example, in U.S terms, to describe these regions would be a Suburb. These towns typically have between 3,000 and 20,000 people. Not a small village or a big sprawling city. However, these small towns still have many challenges and most people in these towns are living in extreme poverty.

I have three boys in India that live in the semi-urban region:

Aaryan, Solomon, & Sandesh

Compassion India works in nearly every state in India (it has 29 states). But, my boys, in the semi-urban region, live in Maharashtra and Karnataka. 

By India standards, these semi-urban towns and very small, but these towns are quickly become bustling cities, as more businesses open and more people flock to live there. People that live in these towns are typically better well-off, financially, than those living in rural villages or city slums. 

Sadly, in these small towns, India's caste system is extremely prevalent and people take it very seriously. A caste system is something that determines somebody's station in life at the moment of their birth. In India, those from a low caste (the very poor) are judged instantly and are doomed for a life of judgement, a poor education, and good careers. For example, if an uneducated couple, who work as laborers, have a baby, that baby's future is already planned out, according to society. That baby will not receive an education and will follow in their parents' footsteps of being an underpaid laborer. It is very sad system that judges and cuts the opportunities of the poorest in India, essentially keeping them poor. 

Most poor people in this region work as "Coolies". A coolie is, basically, an underpaid laborer who does not own their own land. Coolies have to work hard each day to try to find a person or company to hire them for daily jobs. These coolies typically earn about $1 a day, which is not even close to enough money to provide for their families. 

Homes of the poorest people in the semi-urban region are often made out of mud or concrete blocks, with a thatched roof. These roofs are made out of many layers of thatch and are built at a very wide angle, in an effort to keep out the large amounts of rain that India gets in the rainy season. These roofs are often supported by bamboo poles at the corners, which keep the roofs from collapsing. It is pretty common for homes to have electricity, but most homes do not have running water. Thankfully, these small towns often have several water pumps, so people don't have to walk far to fetch water, which saves families a lot of time each day. 

Due to low wages, families are unable to provide their children with adequate nutrition. Many children only receive 1-2 meals a day and these meals typically consist of rice with assorted spice and sauces. Vegetables, fruits, and protein are rare and are often only eaten during special celebrations or occasions. Thankfully, Compassion provides all of their enrolled children with a healthy meal every time they attend the project. 

Many teenagers in this region drop out of school before they reach secondary school. This happens for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that school fees and the cost of supplies is too much for families living in poverty to pay. Another reason is that many teenagers are expected to find jobs and support their families. In these cases, Compassion India supplements education with important lessons and other education activities. In the picture below, a group of teens is having a good, old-fashioned debate: 

Compassion Semi-Urban India has the following prayer requests: 

- Pray for the many children who are neglected and lack proper care. 

- Pray that caregivers will find steady work so they don't have to constantly migrate in search of jobs. 

- Pray that the children's home environment will be healthy and supportive, so they can grow up strong. 

I have one boy to share with you, from this region. He attends the same project as my boy Sandesh, at project IN-866.  

Meet Aaman. He is 11 years old. His birthday is November 27th, 2003. He lives with both of his parents and 1 sibling. His father does occasional labor work and his mother maintains the home. Aaman is a busy boy and is charge of carrying water, caring for his sibling, and washing clothes. For fun, he likes to ride a bike and read books. He has average performance at school. 

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