There are more than 100 million street and working children in India; together, they work to produce more than 20% of India’s gross national product. They are seeking out a grim existence in India's towns and cities. Children as young as six have to resort to car washing, begging, carrying luggage, fetching tea, or working in small industries to support themselves - and sometimes their families. Girls as young as eight are forced into prostitution in order to survive. The average age of street children are: 33% 6-10yrs, 40% 11-15yrs, 27% 16yrs +
How it began:
The genesis of RAN’s Children home lies in the story of its founder, Vijaya Sastry Meesala. Since the Childhood he had a strong compassion for the poor, needy and underprivileged. Vijay was always touched by the devastation caused by poverty especially on the children. When he was fourteen years old a couple of incidents he witnessed had a great impact on his life and shaped his thinking and motivated him to start this children home. He explains “Then I was fourteen years old. One day I was walking on the streets of Vijayawada, India where I have seen some thing which my eyes could not believe. There was a function hall on the road side, several people gathered together and were having lunch. The leftovers were brought out and dumped in the garbage bin. There I saw few children, so shabby, very skinny. They were trying to grab the food from the garbage bin to fill their empty stomachs. But at the same time I heard dogs barking at these hungry kids and trying to chase them away from the garbage bin so that these dogs could eat those foods. That scene will never disappear from my mind. This incident shook my thinking and then I dedicated my life for the cause of hungry and poor children. Upon the completion of my education I began this children home. I had the privilege to sponsor this home for one year on my own”
It was these experiences that led Vijaya Meesala to commit himself to the service of the poor children. This children home is called “Our Home” project. It was established in 2005 in Ventrapragada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Initially it was started with ten children and now there are twenty five children. They are provided with food, shelter and education. Day by day more and more children are being given the opportunity to come and experience the bright side of the childhood. Our ultimate plan is to accommodate nearly thousand children in this “Our Home” project.
“Our Home” project is located in a small village called Ventrapragada, in the state of Andhra Prdesh, South India. The primary aim of the home is to provide the forsaken and poor children with suitable shelter, food, medical facilities, and education. It is with the hope that one-day these children will be able to stand on their own feet, independent, responsible and respectable citizens of the country.
RAN is working to alleviate this tragic reality with homes, education, and health care for children in desperate situations. With this aim this Children Home was established by RAN as one of its program in 2005 in Ventrapragada, Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The program’s goal is to touch the lives of these children. Our hearts long to bring hope, love, and the opportunity of a purpose-filled life to each child. We cannot measure the reward of seeing lives restored and transformed. This Children home is dedicated to restoring the joy in the lives of these children. We provide residential care for abused and neglected children in a home-like setting. Our aim is to restore the emotional and physical well -being of children through a loving and nurturing environment. It is our hope that one day these children will be able to stand on their own feet as independent, responsible, and respectable citizens of the country. Currently, there are 30 children living in the home. The need for this service is immense.
Children coming from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Dalit (untouchables), and tribal communities, and between the age 5 and 15, both boys and girls, are given accommodation in the Home. Most of these children are poor and semi orphaned; they have been rescued from the street, child labour, and flesh trade (commercial sex work).
A recent study shows that many street children (45.6%) would like to live in a secure place, while 71% are very eager to change their present life. 63% of children have an ambition to do something meaningful in their future. The vast majority of them have a survival instinct and the tenacity that helps them survive the day to day trials of street life. That does not, however, provide them a future.
“Our Home” program was begun with an intension and hope to rescue hundreds of children in India from a life of poverty and hopelessness by giving them education and introducing them to the love of God. For just $30 a month, you can cover the cost of one child's meals, shelter, tuition, books, uniforms, and a yearly medical checkup.
‘Our Home’ has remained a basic commitment of ours. This Children home is dedicated to restoring the joy in the lives of many less fortunate children. Our hearts long to bring hope, love, and the opportunity of a purpose filled life to each child. The home is not just a place of shelter but a space where they are given personal love and care that helps fulfill their needs and also meets the basic necessities of life, like health, nutrition, safety, and education.
Since all these children are from poor economic background, all their educational requirements like books, notebooks, uniforms, and other necessary resources were provided for them. This year RAN also organized two medical camps, where everyone had a general health check-up and fortunately none was detected with any major ailments.
Back in their houses, many children do not have suitable environment to live a healthy life. Some might have basic opportunity to go the local government schools, where standard of proper education is questionable sometimes. Extra care and interest needs to be shown to continue their studies or meet the requirements. Since much care and support is given at the children home, many of the children who come to children show lot of improvements. We also do have cases where some of these children are class toppers.
For a healthy growth, we also feel need of working together along with parents/guardian in their upbringing. Every two months we do have parents meetings to discuss about their child’s strength and weaknesses, behavioral patterns, what care and support could be given for better performance. This process is transparent and helps in increasing the level of trust.
Christmas celebration and fun
During the year RAN attracts lot of long and short term visitors for various purposes. This again provides space for them to interact, learn and share from different context and experiences which again helps in broadening their views and opinions and see life from different perspectives.
This children home is unique as it is closely connected with RAN’s local Church and the Bible training centers. Interaction between these three groups (Believers- Children-TrainingCenter students) is a blessing. All of them are boys at present but we hope to extent this opportunities to girls as well. Since decades girls in our communities are most vulnerable with less opportunities. Since the need is immense, in the next few years we also look forward to have resources and infrastructure to accommodate 100 children and to start a school of our own.
Daily Schedule: Children wake up around 6am - fresh up - they have family devotion every morning (two songs - Bible verse read- prayer) - special tuition (we hired a tutor to explain class lessons) - then they will have breakfast - around 9:30 they go to the nearby public school- they come back around 5pm - fresh up - play for some time and around 7pm - 8pm tuition - Dinner - Devotion and Goodnight sleep. They are taught the word of God every day. Our desire is to bring them up in the fear of the Lord while they are still young so that they may walk in His path as they grow up. We hope and pray some among these children would also be missionaries and Pastors in the days to come.
Our hope is to take in up to 100 children in the near future 50 boys and 50 girls. By God’s grace we were able to raise support to purchase land for the Children home building. We are praying for God’s providence for the building.
Starting/Completion Time: This is an ongoing project since 2005
Status and Progress: By Dec 2013, to provide a residential facility that is a safe place for 50 orphaned street children to assuring them freedom from living and working on the streets that will result in the following outcomes:
- holistic development of children in terms of physical, mental and spiritual development;
- increase in the literacy rate to generate better employment opportunities for the children;
- better health and living standard; and these children will be models for others.