Making a life-changing difference in the slums of Delhi9/4/2012
By Jane Middleton
DELHI, India (BP) — Poverty is extreme in the slums of Delhi, India -- the eighth-largest city in the world -- but Southern Baptists are making a life-changing difference for 90 children and their families through the World Hunger Fund.
When Asha* brought her two daughters to the Bread of Life nutrition program, both girls were spindly and their hair was merely small patches on their heads. Each month, the children were weighed and given a health assessment. Like the other children in the program, they were given medication for simple problems like ear infection, worms or diarrhea. They also were given a multivitamin, along with the food supplements such as dried beans and lentils, rice, oil and soap.
After a few months, the girls not only had gained a little weight and were more responsive, but each month they have more hair.
More than half of Delhi’s 22 million people live in areas with severely inadequate housing, electricity, sanitation, and water, according to a government study. Slum dwellers find little reason for hope.
“Poverty is extreme in large areas surrounding the city of Delhi,” said Josie Gabdon,* a Baptist Global Response partner who directs the Bread of Life program in Delhi. “Children are starving, and disease is rampant. With a little food and education, we can improve the lives of these innocent children.”
Bread of Life is improving the health of 90 children and their families with monthly food supplements, multivitamins, and medicine provided through the World Hunger Fund. National partners identified two slums, each with populations of at least 40,000, to be the focus of the project. Both slums are lacking in housing, electricity, sanitation and clean water. Narrow dirt paths wind through a maze of homes cobbled together from sticks, mud, and plastic sheeting.
As families come to receive food, they are provided with basic health and nutrition lessons as well. Children are weighed and evaluated so progress can be monitored. Teachers and national partners are trained so they can continue lessons and follow up with children once the program has ended.
“The national partners are working with families in the community in several areas, and this project will assist them to show love and gain greater access to the community,” said Francis Horton, who with his wife, Angie, directs work in South Asia for Baptist Global Response. “Truly we’ve found a place where people in need are being connected with people who care.”
When people struggle with such dire poverty and feel no one cares about their plight, they are deeply moved when someone offers to help, Gabdon added.
“We continue to pray for these communities, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the only one who can transform their lives,” Gabdon said. “By caring for physical needs, we find people eager to know why we want to help them. The love of Christ compels us.”