• Overview
  • Status of Children in India
  • How We Can Help
  • Stories
  • General Stats

A child is typically depicted as innocent and benign, learning the ropes-of-life with carefree joy and wonder. With open hearts and minds, child explore the world around them. But these same children, when placed in dangerous environments, soon become victims of severe atrocities. These qualities that were once the expression of joy and adventure become breaking points for exposure and helplessness, leaving the children susceptible to unimaginable abuse from people and circumstances.

But you have the power to help change the circumstances of children who are working under the heavy teeth of metal gears at a factory, covered in grease and metal shards, who could be playing with their friends after school in a park, dancing in the sun with joy and delight of a new day. With your donations or volunteer support, you can make a difference for children living in poverty in India. With CFI you carry the power to transform the future and give children the freedom to express their inner joy without the worries of hunger and suffering.

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Poverty and hunger are sometimes uncontrollable adversities which force many children into dangerous circumstances as their parents make harsh and irrational choice in order to find a way to support their family's needs. For most of the families that are forced to bear the grips of poverty, children become a means to make money and generate income. Because of this many children in poverty do not receive an education, and if the do attend school it is only for a brief period of time before they are made to work. In many circumstances, children are forced to work in extremely hazardous environments where they are exposed to toxic chemicals and heavy machinery that constantly put their lives in danger.

India, for the most part, does not enforce labor laws, and it is extremely depressing to know and understand that the first people on the list to be expose to dangerous work environments are children; they have no power to change their environment nor speak out against intolerable abuse.

In the worst of circumstances for children, which happens much more frequently than one could imagine, children are sold to work as slaves to large business or traded as sex slaves. Although sometimes the children are sold to businessmen by their families, there have also been many cases where children were stolen from their very own homes inside a village community and taking across the country or to another nation to be used as slaves. This, of course, causes incomprehensible damage to both the children and their families.

What leaves us at complete distress is the lack of action taken against these atrocities. For families that do sell their children in hopes of avoiding famine, the amount they receive is miniscule and sometimes less than what it would cost to buy a single meal at a popular stake house in the United States.

One of the greatest problems in India is the caste system which divides people even within the same communities. Although this system has existed for centuries, it only became a widespread problem after Western and Empirical ruler ship. While the middle and upper class receive the benefits of good education and healthcare, the lower class people are unrightfully stripped of the opportunities to access these resources. What is left for the 'untouchables' is unsanitary health clinics with scarce supplies that are often time infected as well as an education system where there are no teachers to teach and schools buildings that are literally crumbling to pieces.

The caste system regrettably allows people to justify the harsh treatment and suffering imposed upon people living in lower class communities. This 'down casting' makes it vary difficult for people to work their way out of poverty even if they had the will power and strength to fight the crippling shackles of hunger and disease that are common among the lower class citizens.

Of course lower class children are the greatest victims of the caste system because they are born without choice; before they even take their first breath their parents may have already made the decision that their child cannot attend school. Although the reasons may vary, many children cannot attend school either because it is too expensive or people of their social caste never attend school and rather start work from the first day they can walk. Children that are forced into labor intensive work at a young age jeopardize their chances of finding a good job in their adulthood that requires skill and academic knowledge. This, in turn, creates a cycle of poverty because their is no one there to make enough money to support their families needs while also educating educate their kids to give them a chance at finding a better future.

But with the education we can create new opportunities for lower class children in India, and through the support of our community we will provide the means necessary to give more children the opportunity to settle into a future free of hunger and unnecessary suffering. With education comes knowledge, and knowledge feeds wisdom about how to live a sustainable and healthy life while also supporting the needs of the family. In order to encourage sustainability in India, our efforts must first start with the children who can pave a new future with their fresh ideas and vibrant courage.

Although we cannot reshape India overnight, we do believe that we can work one life at a time until we gain momentum to create change on a larger scale. With support from people like you we can make the future brighter for all, especially our world's children who need us most.

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At present we are operating two major programs which are helping our communities in India to grow and expand to the potential they desire. The first program is NOAH or No Orphans and Homeless.  NOAH has been operating since December of 2006 and has taken great strides since then to provide support to the village and slum communities. Since its conception, NOAH has received a donated classroom from the Indian government which provides shelter and refuge for the children of CFI. With the classroom we are able to provide children with a safe environment to learn and play.

The basic goal of NOAH is to get families and their children out of the survival mode of living and into a state where they can generate an income which is large enough to provide for their families’ future. This has been approached from several angles.

 First we are working to educate children and young adults with basic job skills, mathematics, and language skills which they can use to find a better job with higher pay and less work hours. Since our inception we have worked with several families to provide sponsorship of education for children who are devoted to their studies but are forced to work because of the family’s economic status. Many of the children from NOAH are in the class of extreme poverty and made to work full time jobs starting at the age of seven.

Through NOAH, CFI is also working with local communities to give women more opportunity and also help widows recover from their social and economic poverty. CFI is working to provide counseling as well as additional support to widows so they can get back on their feet and on with their lives. As you may or may not be aware, to be a widow in India is an extreme disadvantage. For a majority of these women, not only will the husband’s family reject her, but her own family will deny her any support as well. To make things worse, the community will lose all respect for the widowed woman and she will be considered an untouchable. If the widow does in fact have children, chances are high that there will be no possibility for the children to attend any type of schooling, and in the worst circumstances some children are left on the street or sold on the slave trade market. To prevent this from occurring in the future, CFI is working with the communities as well as the women in order to get them into a safer and more stable environment for themselves and their children too.

The other program that CFI is running is WISDOM or work in social development and opportunity in Madurai. WISDOM is a great project because we are working to develop the communities in and around the city and to give opportunities to the children and their families to express their needs and desires both for the present moment and the future.  So far CFI has collected over 6,000 books from around the world in an attempt to develop the only public library in all of Madurai. With a population of over 1.5 million, Madurai is in great need of such a service. A public library would provide facilities for students, professors, professional workers, and women in which they can access an array of information to help them progress socially and academically.

Through Wisdom, CFI has also sponsored and organized 2 public functions which gave children and young adults an opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the public environment. With the help of local politicians and community members, CFI was able to provide the children with the chance to express their talents and share their knowledge and skills with their friends and families. One of the functions was focused mainly on Yoga in which students performed various physical poses before an audience. The other program was open to many types of performances and we saw children express themselves in traditional dances, stage acting, martial arts, and singing too. The reason why such functions and activities are so important for India is because it helps to bring together the different social groups within the country. With public programs like these, people from all social statuses come together and share time around their families and friends. It gives the lower class children the chance to grow and look beyond the boundaries of their poverty stricken environment.

 

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pandhi jpgPandhi who is only 6 years old, works as a truck mechanic all day simply because his father cannot generate enough income to support Pandhi, his mother, and his two younger sisters. What is perhaps more horrifying is that Pandhi will generate less than 8 dollars a month although he works 8 to 10 hours a day! As you might imagine, this is quite a sacrifice both for the child and the family because there is no time left for Pandhi to study and not enough money to get the family into a better economic status.

At present Pandhi is a student at the school within the slum community and he is learning more everyday about himself and the world around him. At present Pandhi is only able to attend classes on a temporary basis, and comes to school when he does not have to work.

But we are working with Pandhi's parents to encourage a long-term education for his future, and we have been trying to find a way to get Pandhi into a full time education without sacrificing the income he is able to generate for his family. We can do this in a couple of ways; one is to take care of all of Pandhi's basic needs so his parents can concentrate on themselves and their daughters. Of course this might not provide an immediate solution, so we are also discussing the importance of educating Pandhi to have professional skills which will provide him more opportunities in the future to make a better salary to support his family.

We are also trying to get Pandhi's younger sisters into the education program as well which will give his parents more time to organize their needs and manage the household responsibilities.

Although Pandhi's family may not find complete freedom from poverty in the immediate future we are gradually introducing change into the family, working with each member to find a way for sustainable and healthy living for the family as a whole.

 

Levels of education achieved on average in Madurai, Southern India

This table and graph show that the majority of the population is uneducated with the remaining 45 % obtaining an education no higher than primary, an education similar to elementary school training in the United States. The first major step to help revise this lack of education is to promote free programs with higher academic standards and better resources. Another problem that is inhibiting more Indians from receiving an education is the social stigma that is attached to education; most parents find it more economical to send their child to work than have them go to school.

 

Level of Education Obtained

Total educated population

1,776,654 People

Without any specific level (certificate, unofficial, etc.)

353,224

Below Primary

239,962

Primary

461,505

Middle 

291,362

Metric / Higher Secondary / Diploma

347,664

Graduate and above

82,913

 

 

The education system in India is quiet different from that here in the US, but to help the reader gain a better understanding we will give a general translation of the different academic levels:

 

India

United States

Uneducated

Uneducated

No level

Informal schooling / Certificate

Below Primary

Preschool and Kindergarten

Primary

Elementary

Middle / Secondary

Middle School - High School

Diploma

Undergraduate

Graduate & Above

Graduate (MA MS) and PhD

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News & Events

Writing Competition

Our Independence day drawing competition was a great success. See more photos from the event:

 

Children's Day Alternative Education Conference

 

Join us for our educational event and conference this November. To learn more about how you can help, please visit our partnership page.

 

Urgent Needs

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Through collaboration and partnership we can generate a ripple effect that stimulates new growth and development for a variety of causes and communities. CFI and WISDOM are working with other organization from around the world to conduct research, training, and development projects for students, teachers, administrators, parents. and academic institutes. Join us today and change the lives and education of tomorrow.

Recent collaboration efforts:

  • Grace Physiotherapy and CFI conducted free therapy camps for children with special needs.
  • Training in English language (spell, write, read) for children living within slum communities in cooperation with the Boy's Reformation Club.
  • CFI an Manju Foundation are working to provide educational materials to teachers in Kodaikanal.

Donations For Us

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For as little as $10 a month a student can be fed for an entire month. Helping is much easier than you might have imagined. Make a difference in a child's life today by donating now.

Cohen Foundation and Children's WISDOM projects are maintained by the generous contributions of individuals and organizations who have shared their time and energy to help sustain our efforts for a brighter future. Join us today and create a spark of opportunity for children and the future of education.

 

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