Children at orphanages in India

Orphan girl in India.

Children at orphanages in India

Through the support from sponsors several hundred orphan and poor children are given food, education, clothes, and a home with an atmosphere of care. This is done as we partner with Tor Inge Vasshus and the Indian organization Manna Ministries. In this way we help children who have suffered violation of their human rights on a daily basis.

A fundraiser was launched in 2012 with the aim of recruiting sponsors for children that live in orphanages run by Manna Ministries. These orphanages are located several places in the province of Andra-Pradesh.

The children that receive help fall in under one of four categories:

  • Children without parents or other relatives that are willing to take care of them.
  • Children with one parent that lives in so sever poverty that this endangers the child.
  • Children with both parents but where they live in a situation of abuse, or in risk of child labor, child marriage or human trafficking.
  • Children with both parents where they all live in sever poverty and need help to give the children a future.

The means provided by the sponsors are used to provide food, cloths, education, and needed health care. The means are not directly tied to a single child but being used as in a family household to provide of each child accordingly and to maintain a good home.

Girls have less value

Often the women and girls of India have the worst living conditions. India has been rated as the forth worst country for women to live in. Only women in Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan have more to fear.

Several of the girls living at Manna Ministries orphanages have been abandon by their parents and left to die at the garbage dumps. Unfortunately millions of Indian baby-girls are aborted, strangled, poisoned, left in the cold or starved to death only because they are girls.

One of the reasons for this is the social-economic situation. The Indian society is still governed by ancient traditions, despite all efforts to be a modern and outgoing society. Indian marriages are mainly arranged marriages implying negotiations between the families. The practice is for parents or relatives to pay a dowry to the bridegroom’s family along with the bride. Dowry is seen as a tradition that will balance out the males right of their parents inheritance so that the newly-wed’s will get some financial help from both the husband and wife’s family. This practice may leave a family as debt slaves for a lifetime, resulting in girls to be deselected. Even thought dowry payment was prohibited by law over 50 years ago, the problem is rather increasing than decreasing.  
Hindu funeral rites may also affect boys being more attractive than girls. As you die, the Hindus believe your soul transmigrate to a new creature being born. This circle of rebirthing is referred to as “samsara”, and is without origin or ending. The goal of all Hindus is to surpass rebirthing by achieving “moksha”, which is liberty in the Hindu belief system. Hindu funeral rites may therefore affect boys to be more attractive than girls. The belief system says that a father can only achieve “moksha” if a son is lighting the funeral fire. So a son brings great honor to a family, while a daughter becomes a financial disaster.

Education helps children out of poverty

The children at the orphanages are given an education providing them with knowledge so that they may avoid poverty themselves. As they reach 10th grade they will have their exams and graduate. The result of this determines if and what a person will continue studying. Some will attend technical schools and some college. As the children reach age 18 they will move out of the orphanages.

Today many of these children work as doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, engineers, and pastors. Some are in the army; others work with computers or run businesses themselves.

It is very difficult to find a way out of the sever poverty and distress for many Indians. The poor often lack education and a steady income. If they find work this is often only on a daily basis with day-by-day payment. If they become sick or injured they have no rights or protection and absolutely no knowledge of the right they might have.

The largest population of illiterate adults in the world is found in India with 270 million people not knowing how to read or write. 2/3 of these are women.

India is also the country in the world with the highest child-mortality rate. Worldwide, one in five children under-five that dies is Indian.  Poor hygiene, lack of knowledge about health and diseases, lack of vaccines, and malnutrition among the poor, are the prevailing causes.

Red Cross claims that the high child mortality rate in India is meaningless, because countries with lesser recourses have managed to solve the problem better. UNESCO claims that the child-mortality rate would have decreased by 61 % had only all women completed an education. The organization argues that education is one of the most effective ways to improve children's health. Educated women are more aware of their rights and hold greater confidence and freedom to make decisions affecting their own lives. This in turn improves theirs and their children's health and chances of survival, in addition to giving them good prospects of a job. The organization also argues that for girls to live in dormitories at the school campus is among the most effective ways to fend off child-marriage and child- and teenage-pregnancies. This has proven to be true for the girls in the orphanages run by Manna Ministries.

Child poverty may end up being a chronic situation

According to studies done by a welfare organization in India the number of orphans are expected to increase from 20 million to 24 million from 2011 till 2021. A growth in the number of orphan children and child laboring means an increased percentage of illiterate people, early pregnancies and consequences related to this like increased child mortality rate and young mothers, growth in cases of sexual transmittable diseases and HIV/ AIDS, and drug abuse. Child poverty will end up being a chronic situation if these conditions are transferred onto the next generation.

Pictures from the project:

Click on the images for larger photos and description:

  • Girls in school. Photographer: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • These orphaned boys get care of Manna Ministries. Photograph: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • Students get the knowledge to stay healthy and avoid poverty. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • The library at the school belonging to an orphanage in Hyderabad. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • Kids likes to sing and dance. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • The children are taught math in school. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • Beds. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • Employee woman is cooking for the kids. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.
  • Cot to the youngest children. Photography: Nathalie Edvardsen.