In a poor village tucked away in the state of West Bengal in East India, where people live on as little as 50 cents a day, a Christian child development organization is saving lives through equipping women to care for unborn and born babies.
The village of Kakdwip with about 15,000 inhabitants is witnessing happy changes in the lives of locals after Compassion International opened the area’s first Child Survival Program five months ago.
Kakdwip, about 60 miles from Kolkata, has an unemployment rate of about 70 percent and people there are mostly day laborers earning from 50 cents to only a dollar a day. Under such difficult living conditions, the infant mortality rate in Kakdwip is high – 51 deaths per 1,000 births.
“Given the severity of the economic and social environment of this region it is Compassion’s intent to equip the women and caregivers enrolled in this program with resources that will save and improve the lives of their babies,” said Rebeca Harcharik, Compassion child survival specialist, in a report.
“We’ve been pleased with the progress at the Kakdwip Child Survival Program and believe it will have an impact in this area, improving the overall condition of the babies we serve.”
The first priority in promoting effective child development is to ensure children survive the early years when they are most vulnerable to disease and malnutrition, according to Compassion. In other words, mothers and primary caregivers need to be educated before and after the child is born.
The Kakdwip Child Survival Program provides expectant women and mothers with infants and toddlers through age three with special care and guidance, as well as food, supplements, hygiene products and clothes.
In addition, program participants learn to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and for their children.
The program also provides periodical medical checkups for mothers and babies. More than 35 young children enrolled at the Kakdwip program also receive immunization against polio, tuberculosis, measles and diphtheria.
“I have very high hopes for this Child Survival Program,” said D. G. Jebaraj, Compassion’s east India country director. “I believe if you check on this program after three years, you will see many success stories on how we are making a big difference in the lives we serve.”
Compassion since 1952 has reached more than 1.5 million poor children as one of the world’s largest Christian child development organizations. The group works with some 4,000 indigenous churches and more than 65 denominations in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean.