Author Archive: World Vision Malaysia Admin

Clean water and latrines make life livable for Syrian refugee families in Lebanon

by Sandy Maroun
World Vision Lebanon

The path to Aisha’s tent is filled with lots of mud and small rocks. The uneven ground is littered with old unused stuff, like chairs and broken appliances. Between tents, round white structured latrines and water tanks can be seen.

“Two months ago, we did not have all this,” says Aisha, 34-year-old Syrian refugee woman. “[The] children used to pee outside the tent, in a hole in the ground, and get their bodies dirty. Today, we have a latrine installed by World Vision and actually it is great,” she adds.

As part of the Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) project in the Bekaa valley, funded by the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), World Vision installed latrines around Syrian refugee tents as part of informal tented settlements.

Ibrahim (Aisha’s 5-year old son) happily opening the latrine’s door installed by World Vision in
Bekaa Valley

When the minimum standards for humanitarian assistance were set in 1997, it was established that there should be at least one toilet installed for every 25 persons. Yet, to have a better impact on Syrian refugees, World Vision installed one latrine for every 15 people. The organization also installed water tanks around the settlement allowing Syrian refugees to access clean portable water (the 1,000 litre tanks are filled by World Vision every 10 days) and greywater (filled as needed).

“We have everything we need [in terms of water and hygiene] now. It is definitely much better than before,” says Khalluf, Aisha’s 16-year-old son. “Water is reaching our tent through hoses [now]. Before World Vision, we used to fill water in buckets to get washed or clean our tents or throw it in the hole that contains our sewage,” he adds.

The potable water World Vision uses to fill the tanks is tested in specialized laboratories to make sure it has a healthy composition. As a secondary precaution, however, World Vision also distributed two water filters for each household.

“World Vision’s duty is to ensure the right environment for Syrian refugees, even though they live in tented settlements. These tents are the refugees’ homes now and through the WASH project we wanted to make it [as] comfortable [as possible],” says Simon Tawk, World Vision’s WASH project manager.

As part of the WASH project, World Vision dug a big hole in the ground, and installed a 200 litre hidden septic tank, connected to the latrines, to contain the sewage water. These tanks are emptied by specialized trucks monthly. The refugees pay the truck drivers to empty the septic tanks with vouchers distributed by World Vision.

“[The] WASH project provides Syrian refugees with the indispensable components of their lives, such as potable water to drink and prepare food, and greywater for toilets and showering,” says Simon, who also points out that by these efforts, “World Vision seeks to alleviate their suffering.”

Khalluf lives in the tent with his mother, Aisha, his father, Abdel Wahab, and his seven siblings. He’s the eldest child. Eight months ago, the family fled the war in Aleppo and found refuge in the Bekaa, where other relatives resorted before them.

“We can flush the toilet and we are doing well, much better than before. There is nothing like home, but our situation is better now,” says Khalluf.

World Vision raises refugees’ awareness on the importance of proper hygiene through information sessions given by health promoters in settlements, as part of the WASH project.

“We seek to help Syrian refugees adapt to their new lives and situations by raising their awareness on health and hygiene habits inside camps,” says Simon. “We know that they had great habits back home, but living in a tented settlement is different and our duty is to help them adapt.”

The WASH project in Zahle area in Bekaa reached 1,000 Syrian households thanks to World Vision and ECHO. So far, World Vision’s WASH project in Lebanon has benefited 24,500 Syrian refugees.

Please help meet the urgent needs of the Syrian refugees such as Aisha, Khalluf and Ibrahim today. To make a donation, go to > Donate Now > key in “Syria Crisis Response” at to rush emergency aid to. Thank you.

My entire dream came true

By Narges Ghafary
World Vision Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman; more women die in pregnancy and childbirth than almost anywhere else in the world. One in 50 women will die during pregnancy or childbirth—one every two hours. Women have more than five children on average, yet one out of 10 children die before their fifth birthday.

The only good news is that these statistics have substantially improved in the last few years with World Vision’s commitment through its health programmes.

After three decades of warfare, Afghan women are taking reconstruction, coupled with creating social change, into their own hands.

Shafiqa is a 45 year old widow who lost her husband in the war. She is now the single mother of five sons.

“Now I am working in health mobile team in remote areas where there is no clinic and health staff. I go to remote areas with four of my male colleagues; I am the only woman in their team. We stay one week in each remote area and nights we have to stay in Arbab’s home [village elder], at Thursday we will [go] back to the city to spend the weekend with our families. Some of my female colleagues advise me to leave my job because it is so dangerous but I never do that because I think all success in my life is due to pray[ers] of these people [people in remote area]. It is difficult to be far from family for one week but when people are happy to see us, I forget all difficulties,” she says.

She is a successful example of the Afghan woman who has endured difficult days and has fruitful children who are as proud of her as she is of them.

“We lived in Kabul, I had 21 years old and my husband was clerk, we had a good and nice life until my husband was killed in the war and left me alone with five children.” She takes a deep breath and continues, “I lived with my husband’s family, when I lost my husband they [tried to force] me to marry with my brother-in-law.”

In some parts of Afghanistan, marriage with surviving brothers is common. As a young widow with five children she had two choices: to marry her brother-in-law or to lose everything and live an uncertain future with her children.

“I loved my husband, my conscience did not allow something like this so when I didn’t accept marriage with their son they threw me out of the house with five children, my last child [was] only one year old,” Shafiqa said.

Many Afghan widows struggle for survival. After their husbands’ deaths, the women are faced with rape, poverty and social condemnation. Especially if they live without family support, they are vulnerable and some of them even consider ending their lives as an alternative to the risks they are certain to face.

“[His family] even [kept] my husband’s [inheritance]. I didn’t have any family; they were missing in the war, so I decided to leave Kabul before my husband family got back my children too. I lived in immigration camp with my children in Herat. I passed awful days; my older son had only eight years. We didn’t have equipment for living; even we hadn’t glass to drink tea or hadn’t enough dress to put on in the winter so I had to work all day. My husband liked our children to be educated so their education was another responsibility for me. I had to work three shifts to fight with poverty, I worked in the office as a typesetter in the morning, as a registration person in one private clinic at evening and I had to sew at night. Everything was going good until Afghanistan was occupied by Taliban.”

During the rule of the Taliban women were treated worse than at any other time. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, or seek medical help from a male doctor, and they were forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes.

Women who were doctors and teachers were forced to leave their work and sit at home, and girls were forbidden to go to school as a result of the prevalent ultraconservative policies of that period.

“That time I couldn’t work outside so I had to rotate the wheel of life with sewing and clothes washing in people homes. After leaving of Taliban I continued my work at the clinic in registration; as my children grew up gradually their needs became more and more and in the other hand the rent of house was increased and my salary wasn’t enough so I had to find a way.

By the clinic head I was informed [of] World Vision’s midwifery programme.”

World Vision has been conducting midwifery education programmes in Herat since 2011 to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

“[In] childhood I liked to be a nurse or doctor so it was a great opportunity for me, after graduation I could help woman and children as well as I could have an income for my family so my children’s future will be guaranteed. First it was so hard, I studied, worked and took care of my children, but I [dreamed of a] lighter future. My children had gone to school in the morning and worked in the tailor shop and workshop at the evening to help me [in] supporting of family.

After graduation as there was lack of midwife, immediately I found work in clinic as a midwife. Day by day my children grew up and were about to finish high school. I was near to my husband’s dream. Now could support my family as well as save money for their future. I collected my money and made family for my two older sons [who] now are working in remote areas as translators.”

Shafiqa is on the right

She laughs and says, “Now I have a grandson. My last child will graduate from high school next year. I always saw these days [as a] dream; actually I have this success from prayers of people that I treated when there wasn’t a trained health staff to help them. Pity that my husband isn’t here to see these days and be proud of his children and my education,” Shafiqa said.

Marriage later, studies first

By Gloria Das
World Vision Bangladesh

In a Bangladeshi village, a group of school girls trill a little melody inside a classroom. They are celebrating. The marriage of their friend, 15-year-old Suborna Khanam, has been annulled.

The young girls who gather in this classroom are the members of a children’s group that works with World Vision. Suborna, a sponsored child who lives in Maksudpur ADP, who is among them, and is in Grade 10.


This youth group is one she helped start, along with her friends, so that she could become more engaged with social and development work. Little did she know that she would one day need their assistance.

“The Child Forum’s collective are sowing seeds of change. There are weekly meetings where we get together in a safe place to learn, have fun, and talk about what is happening in our communities. We learn about the links between teenage pregnancy and high rates of infant and maternal mortality and all the other adverse health effects of early marriage. The members are sensitised about their rights,” Suborna says.

The group has been working with World Vision since 2010. Such collectives are part of child-focused interventions of World Vision Bangladesh to boost the confidence of teenage children and to fight child marriage – a practice that continues across the country, particularly in rural communities, despite a legal ban.

Suborna is in a red headscarf

“World Vision has changed my life,” Suborna says.

Recently, Suborna’s father came to the school. He had decided to take his daughter back home, as he arranged a partner for her. A groom with a plot of land of his own and with a little dowry was found. Suborna’s wish of continuing her education was considered a luxury that could hardly be afforded. The family did not have the spare money for the additional expenses and reasoned that marriage was the better option.

“When my father told me I was going to be married off, I felt my life had been ruined. I visualized a life like that of my mother—marriage, lots of children. Full stop. All dreams shattered,” Suborna says.

She immediately protested. She told her friends in the Bandhan Child Forum. When the group learned about Suborna’s situation, they immediately intervened and contacted her parents.

“We were sure we’d be able to prevent her wedding,” says a confidence Raihan, the group’s leader. “We talked to her parents at length and tried to make them understand what evils early marriage involves. Finally, we succeeded and Suborna came back to school,” Raihan smiles.

At school, Suborna was performing brilliantly.

“Neither of her parents can read nor write. So, she was not supposed to be allowed to go to school,” explains Suborna’s uncle. “The village (her parents live in) also does not have any high school and she would have had to travel 3km if she wanted to continue her studies. So, I took her with me,” he says. From primary school to current day, Suborna has stayed with her uncle.

But as her uncle is also a landless farmer, like her parents, he did not have enough income to take care of his niece’s educational expenses alone. Soon after Suborna came to live with him, he learned about World Vision’s sponsorship programme from one of his neighbours. Suborna then became involved with Muksudpur ADP’s child sponsorship programme and received educational support, including special coaching classes organised for the sponsored children of the ADP.

Things were passing smoothly. Suborna passed her primary school studies with good results and then was admitted to Grade 6 at a high school in Muksudpur Upazila.

“I was just thrilled with joy when I remember the first day of my new class. I still could feel the smell of my new books. Thank you World Vision, my real friend in need,” Suborna says.

In secondary school, after her parents initially told her she would have to get married and returned to school, Suborna continued to achieve good marks.

“I can remember the day when our class teacher called me and gave me the good news – I stood first in the class,” Suborna says.

Suborna decided to go back home to share the good news with her parents. But Suborna’s parents were unimpressed. Instead, they again raised the issue of marriage.

“I was so unhappy about the marriage. This time I told my mother who also did not agree with me and they locked me at my room. Then I sought help,” she says.

Scared, Suborna made a plan. She pretended to become seriously ill and was taken to a nearby hospital. At the hospital, she snuck out and returned to her uncle’s place. She was safe, at least for the time being.

“From her childhood, she was not like other girls of her age. There was something different in her. I was so impressed to see her strong confidence to stand up to wrong, to care for others and especially for her strong craving for higher studies,” says Helal Qazi, Suborna’s 40-year-old uncle.

Back at her uncle’s place, Suborna immediately contacted with Child Forum members and informed them about the incident. They, in turn, contacted a World Vision child forum coordinator who worked for the Muksudpur ADP.

The child forum coordinator talked to Suborna’s parents and explained the law, as well as other implications, related to child marriage. Finally, her parents gave their consent for their daughter to not get married before she turns 18. However, they also stated that they could no longer afford to pay any expenses related to Suborna.

Finally Suborna’s marriage was put on hold.

To help her earn money, World Vision helped Suborna complete a seven-month Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) course. She now works as a facilitator and coaching volunteer groups to work at the community level. She works on campaigns and teaches rural households about different social and development issues like health, water, sanitation and hygiene, women and child rights, dowries, women’s empowerment and violence against women.. She is now getting Taka 800 (RM34) per session and facilitates 16 sessions in a month.

“This course leads to better psycho-social competence and helps participants to make responsible decisions and build the competency to lead a healthy and productive life. It is also helpful for developing leadership capacity of adolescents. At the same time, I could work for my community’s development also,” Suborna says.

Monika Biswas, the child forum coordinator of Muksudpur ADP, says, “World Vision use a multi-pronged approach for child development – empowering adolescents by forming child forums, building youth groups to work on child marriage issues, Life Skill Based Education courses (LSBE), women groups, children in schools, etc. Along with all this, we aim to integrate a community-based strategy involving village leaders, community groups and government departments to reintegrate children into formal school system. These initiatives became an integral element of our work on child marriage.”

As Suborna’s story illustrates, success stems from this collective approach. She is now a household name in her community when it comes to protesting against underage marriage.

“We decided to join hands and campaign against the evils of child marriage. We enjoy certain privileges like being able to go inside the house and communicate with the women – something men don’t,” Suborna explains.

Suborna’s track record is quite commendable. She and her child forum friends also prevented many other underage marriages in her village. Grade 6 students Kamalika, Chaity and Dipti and Grade 7 student Hena are some of the names who went back to school, thanks to Suborna’s initiative.

Suborna is in a red headscarf

“World Vision has made my parents to proud of me. I finally made my father understand that his daughters could be his support in old age. And I succeeded. My youngest two sisters are now also going to school,” Suborna says smilingly.

“Now my eyes are filled with new dreams, dreams of hope and aspiration. I want to study more and become a teacher in the future so that I could improve up my community with an education,” she says.

Shahid Fakir, who was once disgusted with his daughter’s obstinacy, is a proud father today. “I was going to make a big mistake, but my daughter stopped us in the nick of time,” he smiles.








接下来就是我们表演的时候了,一首在江湖上流传已久的Chicken Dance,舞出的活力让小朋友乐翻了。语言不通时,肢体语言就容易表达我们的情感。快乐很容易就可以感染别人。


当然我们还带了一首歌、一支舞蹈和一个手语表演给小朋友。We Shall Overcome是一首意义深远的歌。虽然歌词简单,却也表达了我们对自己和对他们的期望。“明天孩有希望”的手语是有点临时抱佛脚,但我们也是经过苦练而学出来的。最后我们也表演了我们著名的马来儿歌Rasa Sayang。虽然时间很短却很开心!






哈哈! 我不会踢球啦,可怜我的队友东奔西跑地追着我胡乱传球。经过这次我会好好的把球练好,不会带球、不会射门,没关系。至少要把球稳稳地传给队友。










不要再画了啦,手很满了! jiehui很爱画,我们都给他画过。


我们在车上就是不停地画不停地画,彩绘真的很有趣。Elle 在画着 Star的手。很专注啊~只是车不停地晃,很难画得好吧?









第二篇 – 颜凯荣


开心吃饭的Umang Program


Umang Program 是世界宣明会为当地居民提供的一项营养餐计划,让妈妈们带着一到五岁的小朋友来这里吃营养均衡的一餐。


这就是Umang Program  的食材啦。说真的我叫不出所有香料的名字,就如照片中间有个用报纸包着的叶子,我和其他人不停地拿来闻,这叶子没什么味道但煮的时候味道就出来了,总之就是好吃就对了。当然,好吃并不是重点,在这项计划中所关注的乃是食物的营养成分。您知道这些食物可以帮助减少多少名五岁以下的儿童死于营养不良吗?

















淑欣 和 Apam比赛吹泡泡……基本上我不知道输赢啦。只是我们和当地的小朋友很认真地看这场没有输赢的比赛。儿时的小玩具我们却玩得很开心,相信互动才是玩得开心的秘诀。











有一次我们拜访其中一家的家庭时,婆婆很好客的把干粮请我们吃。吃的时候那种千百种情绪涌上心头的的感觉很不好受。很幸福能让婆婆那么开心,很惭愧我不能给于更多的帮助,很开心能品尝到的干粮,很心虚我们在吃着婆婆充饥的食物。在不懂是哭是笑的情况下,我选择低头,默默的把手上的干粮吃掉。最后告别时, 婆婆感激的眼泪还一直在我脑海里打转。这里的小孩很纯真。人很奇妙,看得少就要得少。简单的游戏就让他们玩得不亦乐乎。但是他们面对的问题却比我想的还多。在不能摄取足够的食物及营养的情况之下, 导致上课无法集中精神,智力与体格发展深受影响。我更担心的是他们的未来。他们小小的心里也有自己的愿望。然而受到的阻挠却很大,不管是生活还是生存上。


世界宣明会发展一个社区至少需要十五年的时间。回想这十几年的饥饿30营会, 大家都在营会中体验饥饿,在这段时间内不断地与饥饿与贫困挑战。我在这趟路途中得到了坚持下去的理由。我还有一段很长的路要继续走下去。


Hi! INDIA – Part 2



“Namastey! Apnar nam ki?” 入乡随俗的我在印度就用这几句话打天下。这旅途,穿过了几个村庄我最终发现大家的问题都逃离不了贫穷。贫穷是一个很可怕的东西,尤其是亲眼见证了当地居民们如何活在贫穷的国度里。没有足够的粮食、破烂的衣着、简陋的屋子再加上无法预测的天灾,这就是他们的生活。

在印度,每日有5千名5岁以下的孩童因营养不良而逝世。了解当地居民的起居饮食后,我才相信了这残酷的事实。从他们口中得知月入后,我愣了一下。88令吉的月入够用吗?这是我有史以来听过最少、最不可思议的收入。88令吉得承担家里所有的消费如衣食、学费和其他开支,每方面根本无法得到足够的数额。好听的说是三餐,但实际上他们早餐只喝一杯茶。 午餐是白饭和一道咖喱菜,晚餐却是未知数。他们的晚餐有或无取决于午餐所剩的份量。有时候没有晚餐他们还得挨饿入睡。体验过饥饿30我知道这种感觉并不好受,更何况这是他们长期面临的问题。小孩们还因为营养不良常患上一些普通流感及疾病导致身子弱,有时还无法去上课。这不只影响孩子们的发育,还可能永久性地影响他们的未来甚至带来死亡。一个营养不良问题续而再产生更多的难题,究竟他们的问题何时才会来到尽头?想到当地人的生命因这问题而危在旦夕时,觉得自己很幸福,没遇过类似的问题也不曾挨饿。



旅途中到了一个简陋的小房子,里面只有一张木桌、木凳、黑板和挂在墙上的秤还有坐在地上喂食的母亲们。UMANG PROGRAMME在那里提供3岁以下的孩童营养午餐,帮他们量体重并教导母亲们如何帮孩子摄取营养。母亲们认真学习和准备的画面看得我很开心。这计划不但提高他们的营养知识,还能确保孩子们每天至少拥有一份营养餐并降低营养不良造成的死亡率。我亲眼见证了自己有份筹得的款项那么实际的帮助了他们,很有意义。这让我更坚持的想要帮助他们更多,希望可以为他们带来更好的改变。





饥饿30个小时并不难!至少我们知道30个小时之后,我们一定会得到解饥餐,挨饿的感觉必定会消失。然后再回到各自的正常生活,一日三餐无忧。可是,在巴萨提长期受命运折磨的这些人,他们并不知道何时才会有三餐温饱的感觉,甚至不晓得明天会不会有足够的粮食。那么努力干活的的他们,认真地活着就是为了能拥有更好的将来。这些人,他们绝对值得拥有更好的生活!我们也绝对可以为他们带来一些改变。《童心协力,对抗饥饿》, FIGHT HUNGER! 诚意邀请您加入2013年的饥饿30, 为无声的他们献出一份力。他们崭新的第二人生,就在我们手上!
















我在印度经历了很多的第一次。第一次在冬天冲冷水、第一次看见那么简陋的小屋子、第一次那么亲近贫穷的议题还有很多说不完的第一次。这让我不禁想起自己多么的幸福,置身在天灾鲜少发生的马来西亚而且还拥有那么多物质上的享受。同一片天空地下,幸运的我们是否应该对他们施出援手呢?诚意邀请您加入我们,参加2013年的饥饿30活动!《童心协力,对抗饥饿》,FIGHT HUNGER!

A journey to incredible India – Part 3

By Famine Advocate Lee Ling

Day 5&6 in India: What I’ve learnt

I have learnt a great deal from the trip but here are the most precious ones which I would like to share.

1)    Every child has dreams and aspirations, even for a child who is constantly plagued with hunger and malnourishment.

On the last day of our trip, we visited Abijeet, a 9-year-old boy. This little guy has a mischievous look but in a very adorable way. We saw his cuteness and excitement when he met us. But we also saw that he is too thin and malnourished. Abijeet’s family is very poor and his father has kidney problem. Abijeet and his family have very little to eat and sometimes, they would not have anything to eat for 4 to 5 days.


The charming Abijeet

We asked Abijeet what he wants to become when he grows up. “Doctor” he said. We asked why. He said that he wants to serve people. “Will you be charging money or will you be treating people for free?” I teased. “Free!” he said it with a big grin. We were instantly moved by Abijeet’s noble intention.



The bright and talented Parama mesmerizing us with her dance.

Parama lives alone with her old grandmother. They only have each other as both her parents have abandoned her. Their mud house was in a very bad shape and it doesn’t look like it can withstand the next heavy rain.The biggest challenge that she faces is education as her grandmother is unable to provide for her. She hopes to have books so that she could go to school. They also have very little to eat.


This was their only food for that day as they couldn’t afford any rice.

Despite living in such a dire condition, Abijeet, Parama and all the other children here were  just as adorable, as playful and even as talented as our children back home. They too, aspire to become teachers and doctors. But they are plagued with hunger and poverty and they might not have a future.


Us having a wonderful time with the children.

2)    What is very little to us can mean a world to the less fortunate.

The average familyhere earns about 1,000 rupees (RM57) a month. Itwas really shocking to see how little these people has to eat and how they have been struggling without clean water, electricity, safety, health and almost everything else that we have here. I was also shocked to learn that a huge 25kg bag of rice only costs about RM38 here and was again shocked when I see people crying when they received the rice from us.

Is it possible to help children like Abijeet and Parama to grow up healthily and to realise their talents? It is a resounding yes but only if WE DO SOMETHING. I believe that every one of us can do something, be it volunteering, donating or joining the 30-hour famine.


Let’s fight hunger together!

Amazing people

Besides the less fortunate ones, we have also met with a lot of amazing people during our trip and had so much of fun together. They helped us tremendously by being our guide, our translator and we have learnt so much from them.

These amazing people are the staff of World Vision.


Our last night in India with the World Vision staff and volunteers.

After getting to know the staffwho are based here, we got to know that most of them are well educated, with masters and basic degrees. There is nothing here in this small place, no cinemas, no cafes and there is nothing that we city people find pleasures in. The nearest city is 4 hours away and yet, they came all the way to work for the communities here,  depriving themselves oftheir families, friends, comfort and everything. They could have easily found themselves a job in comfortable, air-conditioned office in the city but they chose here.

We have only been here for a few days and we have only met the poor families once, but we have already felt so demotivated, so much of frustration and sadness. And these people have been here for so long, and they must be feeling whatever we are feeling and so much more.


Us posing for the camera with Apam (in the middle). Apam is the pioneer of the area development project here and he has already been here for four years. When he first started, he can’t even speak the local language but now he can speak well. His determination and perseverance is really admirable.

What Impressed Me the Most
What impressed me the most from this trip is the volunteers who serve the people here. One of them is Mr. Balai Mondal. Balai looks like an average villager. Their family of 5 live in a mud house and he does not earn a lot. Despite that, this man has a BIG heart. Balai started helping World Vision voluntarily when it first started in 2009. His role include facilitating training for the community and child monitoring under World Vision Child Sponsorship Programmr. Besides that, he has also done a lot of volunteering work to help his community.

It wasn’t very usual to have someone with such a big and selfless heart like Balai. We asked what inspired him to do so. He said that he was from a very poor family and there were many times when they did not have enough to eat. But yet, his parents had brought him up and he understands how it feels to live in poverty. There wasn’t anyone who could help them during their distress so he hopes that now, he could be the one to offer help to others in need.


Balai and us. We were at the brick road which Balai and the other villagers have built with assistance from World Vision.

We asked what is his hope for the future. I was expecting that he would say a better income for his family and sending his children to universities. But instead, this was what he said, “I hope that every children in this village will have education, every home has food, and our village will have hygienic toilets and water”.

Shall we all embrace Balai’s hope to help the less fortunate ones?

A journey to incredible India – Part 2

By Famine Advocate Lee Ling

Day 3 & 4 in India: Eye-opening

Before we embarked on our trip to India, we have been warned to expect the unexpected. I wasn’t too worried as I thought that poverty wasn’t anything that is too new to me. After all, I have been to third world countries, I have been to the 30-Hour Famine camps and I have fasted for 30 hours straight. But I was dead wrong. My experience over these few days was really intense and eye-opening.

More than half of the children here were malnourished, underweight and physically and mentally stunted.

Shue Xin measuring a child under the Umang Program.  This program is implemented by World Vision to tackle malnourishment among the children.

Even the cows here are severely malnourished.

People are using filthy water for bathing, laundry, washing cutlery and everything else. As a result, they have skin problems and diarrhoea.

One of the pools where they get water from.

The villagers here stay in houses made with mud and fortified with dried cow dung, bamboos and woods. However, mud houses are fragile and will be easily destroyed when there are heavy rains or floods. The poorer ones are not able to repair their houses if it requires woods/bamboos as these costs money. They are also not allowed to chop trees (if any) as these are from a reserved forest. Throughout the trip, we have seen people applying new layer of mud and dung to their houses which seems to be quite a routine.

A few houses will share a tiny toilet normally made of out dried hay and plastic bags. There is no sewerage system. In this particular toilet, the waste will fall from the tree to the tree roots and ground below.

The water pumps where they get underground water for drinking. Children and women would have to fetch water at least twice a day and walk about 15 minutes or more.
Dried cow dungs are used as burner for them to cook as they could not afford coal, oil or even woods. Many ladies are seen drying and handling cow dungs during the day. The dungs here are flattened and molded into sticks.

There is no electricity in this village and people rely on oil lamps. It is extremely dangerous as it can easily catch a fire if it’s accidentally knock over. There was a little girl who we met with severely deformed hands as she was burnt in the fire.

Over these two days, we have visited 3 families and an ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) center.
A toddler from the ICDS center. The children here are so irresistibly endearing even though a lot of them are malnourished.

The advocates preparing food for the children at the ICDS center. World Vision provides nutritional food for the children here.

One of the families which we visited was Purnima’s family. Her family is extremely poor and hunger is a daily occurance for them. Her family survives on a meagre income of 1000 rupees a month (approximately RM57).

Purnima is malnourished like many girls in her village. She is very very thin, soft-spoken and often clings to her mother. We noticed that her head was always hung low and she would look at us with her eyes looking slightly upwards. She was also slower to respond. We knew that these are some of the effects of malnourishment on her. Purnima also falls sick very often and she suffers from typhoid, heart problem and skin disease.

Purnima and me

We followed her to fetch water, which is her twice a day routine. She bought along a water container and she supported it on the side of her waist and with her hands. We walked briskly and it took us about 10 mins to reach the water pump. She was barefooted and we walked across a dried up mud field. They told us that during the rainy season, the whole area will become muddy and walking will be really tough. Wearing shoes is impossible as the shoes will be sticking to the mud.

Kang Yong helps Purnima with the water container. This is quite a strenuous task for Purnima as she is weak and would always feel very tired.

Delivering food from World Vision to Purnima’s family.

Despite the differences of language, skin colour, background and everything else, it’s still very heartbreaking when we see the sufferings of the people here, especially children. If only more people could start GIVING then children like Purnima would have a better future.