Child Care Update
May to June 2017
Children’s Wellness Center
In rural India, a child born with any kind of disability is destined for a life of dependency. This is an extreme burden to poor families, as the child becomes a social and financial liability to the family.
There are an estimated 580,000 + children under 6 who are autistic and affected with cerebral palsy in India, and 62,538 just in Tamil Nadu. In rural areas, their families have limited awareness and understanding of children with special needs. They also lack access to standardized screening and diagnosis, let alone any kind of intervention or support.
Without awareness, access, lack of skills and resources to care for children with special needs, families are left without hope. In many cases, children with special needs are terribly neglected and become the ‘forgotten children.’ They do not attend school and rarely leave their homes. Most of these children also are severely malnourished, since families will often favor a healthy child over a disabled child when it comes to food and attention.
Another growing need is the number of children with learning disabilities. In India, 10% to 12% of the total population of children has a learning disability (Source: Times of India daily). An estimated 30 million children are known to have dyslexia. A recent survey says that, in India, every classroom has two or three children with learning disabilities. The most common are dyslexia (the inability to read or interpret lessons and symbol), autism (a mental condition characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). The best way to help these is found in early detection and intervention. Children in urban areas have access to special centers for screening, diagnosis and early intervention. Unfortunately, most rural schools fail to lend a sympathetic ear to their problems. As a result, children who are unable to fend for themselves are branded as failures.
Presently, therapeutic interventions and rehabilitation have yet to reach and assist disabled children in rural Indian villages. Due to the high level of illiteracy, ignorance and superstition in villages, the families do not understand their children’s disabilities. In addition, villages are often too remote to be able to access or afford special rehabilitation centers. Both government and non-governmental organizations have worked together and separately to develop mechanisms for identifying children with special needs and have created rehabilitation facilities for them. However, these efforts are often not effective due to improper implementation, inefficient management and inconsistent and sub-standard treatment provided by untrained therapists.
In the hope of caring for these “forgotten children”, IGL has established a comprehensive Children’s Wellness Center. The program will focus on bringing therapeutic intervention, community based rehabilitation and support to families and their children.
Since its birth in April 2017, 10 children from ages 8 – 16 with special needs have enrolled in our program to receive care! A team with an occupational therapist, a special education teacher and a physio-therapist is engaged to assess and provide the care these children need.
With many more children to reach, construction is underway for a special children’s wellness facility that will include therapy rooms, consultation rooms and a pediatric ward. This will be a one-of-a-kind facility in Salem, Tamil Nadu, where children with special needs can receive all of the care and therapy that will help them have a healthy and successful life under one roof.
We are grateful to God for this special opportunity to serve and be a part of these children’s lives –children he has far from forgotten about. The open doors and resources God has provided are miraculous and we praise him for his continuous provision. These children and their families are supported through the sponsorship program and it presents us with an opportunity to ‘Love One More.’
Because strong leadership is a serious need in India, our focus is on raising up and training the next generation. Every May, IGL organizes a leadership training program at Sharon Gardens for children living in the homes. Those between the ages of 13 – 16 can participate in the 20-day intensive leadership program that provides the children with various experiences to engage their body, mind and spirit.
Starting May 2, 60 children from 10 different children’s homes participated in this 20-day program. Children began each day with prayer and meditation on God’s Word and closed each day with a Bible study. During the day, they played games and activities that helped teach them what it looks like about being a leader. The children were also taught skills like music, typing, working with a computer and tailoring, none of which are offered at their schools. They also played sports every day!
Included in the 20-day training program was a trek up the mountain near Sharon Gardens. The children enjoyed this activity as they learned skills needed to make the strenuous hike and enjoyed each other’s company. The day up the mountain also included a reward after the hard trek up of a fun excursion to the lake where they went boating.
The kids ended their time at the training with a friendly but exciting competition. Many shared encouraging feedback about their experience, surely an unforgettable time in the children’s lives! Participants also shared about the growth and the inner transformation they experienced during the time they spent in prayer and the Word of God. It was such a joyful experience that many want to return for next year’s program.
We praise God for the opportunity to invest in the lives of these young ones and raise them to be godly leaders. All of this could not have been possible without the love, prayer and encouragement of our sponsors and prayer partners. We express our deep and sincere gratitude for you. Thank you for strengthening our hands and for standing in the gap.
Chinnandi traveled from Mercy Home, Theni, to Sharon Gardens in order to attend the leadership training that took place in May. He was very excited to learn more about Jesus Christ through scripture reading and to equip himself as a leader. It was a unique opportunity to learn more about loving and serving others the way Christ teaches!
God fulfilled Chinnandi’s expectations as he found the leadership training to be extremely beneficial! The most important thing he learned about was his identity in Christ. This lead to him deciding not to lose himself to anything other than living a life that glorifies Jesus. This training was a turning point in Chinnandi’s life. He is now able to stand firm in Christ and share what he has learned with his friends!
Even though Chinnandi was born in a Hindu family, he came to know about Jesus Christ while living at Mercy Home. Before attending, he used to cheat his friends and even stole things from them and his home. But after attending this training God helped him to realize where he was at fault and inspired him to live a Christ-like life.
Children’s Home Admissions
For many children in India the academic year begins in June. While this is a time of great excitement for the children it is also a time of burden for many parents in rural India. Parents from economically struggling families have a hard time providing for their children’s education. Many of these parents are daily wage laborers or migrant workers who travel to neighboring cities to work for meager wages.
These hard circumstances offer little hope for a better quality of life for their children. Most of the time, their only opportunity is to place their children in the care of others, like IGL’s homes.
Renuka a mother of 2 was waiting in line during admissions. She was anxious and wondering if her daughter would be admitted into the home. She had once been happy with her husband and her family; her daughter was studying in a private school and her husband had a good job. But suddenly her life changed when her husband became addicted to alcohol and began abusing her. Renuka tolerated much of it for her children but as her situation worsened she decided to separate herself and the children from her husband. She returned to live with her mother and began working in a textile shop earning $75 a month. With this meager income, she could not afford to properly care for her children. She began searching for a good children’s home that would better care for her children. Through her neighbors, she heard about IGL’s homes. She was confident that IGL would meet all of her daughter Sujithra’s needs and help her accomplish her dream of becoming a teacher. She was very thankful to IGL for admitting her.
For me, this is a special time. As I look into these children’s eyes, hear their stories of struggle, and experience their joy when they are admitted, it is a powerful reminder, that “whatsoever I do to the least of these, I have done it unto my Lord.” It is a time to reflect on my call and renew my commitment to love these children the way Christ would. All of this is not without its reward. Jesus says that, there is a reward for even a cup of cold water given in his name. My reward has been the opportunity to give that cup of cold water again and again to many children in need. My reward has been a heart broken wide open for his children so I can Love One More, a hundred more each year. What joy!
House Parents Training
House parents from IGL’s children’s homes gather annually for a week-long training. This year the training was held from May 16 to 20, 2017. Over 30 house parents from different homes throughout India gathered to refresh, reflect and learn more about IGL’s vision as well as their roles and responsibilities as a house parent.
House parents received expert training on community, child development and spiritual development. This training covers topics like the role of a house parent, basic first aid for children, spiritual development, home maintenance, effective communication skills and children’s rights. Each day the training began with a time of prayer and reflection on the theme for the year from Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Trainings like this help equip staff by giving them a clear understanding of the nature of their ministry among children.
Saravanan, a house parent from Blessing Home, shared that the session on the role of the house parent was very useful. It clearly explained how a house parent should care for the children as well as emphasizing the importance of their role in the children’s lives. He also thanks God for choosing him to be a house parent and for the opportunity to be a part of this training and ministry.
Praise God for:
- God’s help to conduct the Children’s Gospel Clubs (CGCs), leadership training and house parent’s training.
- His guidance in reaching 870,000 little ones through CGCs and 60 children through leadership training.
- All his provision and protection throughout the last academic year.
- For all the new children admitted into the children’s homes.
- For the Children Wellness Center and those receiving therapy and care.
- The children who attended a CGC for the first time and for the children who attended the leadership training.
- The house parents and superintendents to continue to serve faithfully.
- Children in IGL’s homes, day care centers, and after school programs, that they may grow in favor with God in wisdom and stature.