40 children rescued from child labor; successfully completed first three months of Indian school year

Photo: These girls are thankful for the opportunity to attend academic classes through our Children’s Hope Center outreach program in India.

We are happy to report that our Children’s Hope Center in Hyderabad, India, began its 6th school year on June 15th. 40 children rescued from child labor, ranging in age from 7 to 12 years, are enrolled in school this year. Most of our children have returned from last year, but we have also enrolled eight new children. During these first 3 months of school, the children have studied their native Telugu and Hindi languages, English, math, science, social studies, and computer education. All of our children are doing very well in school, all receiving high grades and good test scores. Our full-time after school care teacher and her assistant are to credit for the children’s productive study hall time as they tutor the children faithfully each school day.

The children are provided a nutritious snack when they arrive to the after school program, and then they have a play time followed by study hall, computer classes, and then dinner before going home. At least once weekly the children will get a non-vegetarian dinner such as chicken curry — otherwise the usual dinners include rice, vegetables, and eggs. As more funding is provided for the program, we plan to begin providing a breakfast program before the children are sent to school.

One such child is Sirivena, who is now studying in fourth grade and getting all A’s and B’s through the help of the Hope Center. She lost her father in her early childhood and her mother works physical labor jobs to try to provide for Sirivena. Even if her mother had the peace of mind to leave her at home to attend school while she is working long hours, she would not have been able to afford any of the materials to enroll her in school. Thankfully she found the Hope Center and we had space to enroll her daughter. Now she is very happy that Sirivena is being well taken care of through our program. Sirivena is very happy to have the experience of an education and the support needed to help her with her homework after school, to have other children to play games with, and to get a fresh-cooked meal before going home. And her mother could not be prouder.

10_2015India_PicFramePhoto inset: (Top-left): Boys who attend our Hope Center enjoy time in computer class. (Top-right): Two students at our Hope Center display grateful smiles for the opportunity to learn. (Bottom-left): These friends appreciate their time in study hall together. (Bottom-right): This sweet little one is having fun learning how to read.

At first when we started the Hope Center it was hard to earn the parents’ trust. The parents have to go to other areas of the city to do labor work, such as Sirivena’s mother, and because of the trafficking crisis, they do not feel safe leaving their children in the colony alone. Even if they decide to enroll their children in school, there is no one at home to take care of them after school. So they end up taking their children along with them, and out of convenience they have their children work alongside them to earn a little extra money. So our program offers the parents peace of mind knowing that we not only provide their children with everything they need to enroll in the local school, but also a strong after school care program that ensures their safety until the parents return home from work. Now that the parents have seen the progress we’ve made and how well the children are doing in school, there is currently a waiting list of 13 children hoping to enroll at our Hope Center.

In other good news, we made significant improvements in the power supply situation at the center last year. For the first four years we operated only on a generator with no electrical connection due to the condition of the slum colony where we operate. We now have a steady flow of electricity from the grid, as well as an inverter battery back up system to help with the frequent outages. It is our dream to someday power the center with a solar power solution. We also have plans to expand the Hope Center facility to a second level. Right now we are using the existing ground floor and its two small rooms for a study hall and a computer lab. It’s a bit crowded as we try to use the same study hall for preparing and serving meals. An additional level will provide a kitchen and dining hall for these 40 children. The cost to expand to the second level is only about $7,000. Please pray with us and help as you can to provide this major improvement for the children of the Hope Center. Thank you for your prayers and generous contributions — we look forward to reporting back with our progress in improving the lives of these children.

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