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Creating a better world

Dolly Mirchandani writes about World Vision India which has a systematic approach to bettering the lives of poor children

Internationally, World Vision was born out of an episode in the life of Robert Price, a US war correspondent, who, in 1947, was moved by the sight of a Korean orphan girl who was beaten and bleeding. He responded by giving the $5 he had to a mission house warden and promised to raise money to support the little girl. That promise grew into World Vision, a Christian organisation that works in 97 countries for the development of the poor.

World Vision India (WVI) started in Kolkata in 1962; it now works with 1,700 people, nine project offices and touches the lives of over 225,000 poor children, their families and communities. It is an independent entity and makes it a point to mention that its work is not tied to religious conversion. It believes in adhering to the highest standards of transparency in transactions and accountability to stakeholders.

WVI calls its approach to poverty alleviation through transformational development the ‘area development programme’ (ADP). Each ADP covers a population of 20,000-100,000 socio-economically vulnerable people. It is a long-term (12-15 years) involvement in partnership with civil society, NGOs and the government. ADPs focus on the needs of children—tackling child mortality, health and education—and aim to empower people to manage their own development process. It works through community-based organisations, such as self-help groups and yuvak mandals, who help select the needy children for sponsorship.

Talking about the challenges faced by the organisation, Anand Joshua, head–marketing, WVI, says, “More children need a helping hand. Bridging the gap between the rich and the poor and breaking the apathy of Indian people to poverty is one of the biggest challenges faced by us. We also have a challenge to bring discussions on poverty into the living-rooms of the rich and the middle class.”

WVI has also responded to major disasters in India, starting with Bhopal gas tragedy, Latur earthquake, super cyclone in Orissa, Gujarat earthquake, tsunami, Kashmir earthquake, Bihar floods and many other disasters. WVI’s programmes include emergency assistance, community rehabilitation, psycho-social care, economic recovery and infrastructure building.

WVI is also part of the Planning Commission’s working group on women’s empowerment and child development, as well as the NGO steering committee of the National Disaster Management Authority. It has a special initiative that focuses on HIV prevention, care and advocacy interventions in districts that have high HIV prevalence in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Manipur and Nagaland.

When asked about future initiatives, Mr Joshua elaborates, “WVI’s work across India will focus on areas where child vulnerability is high. This will involve working in areas with high incidence of infant mortality, malnutrition, child labour, child trafficking and other serious issues affecting children. WVI will also work on development of the youth by providing training for skills and empowerment.”

Donations made to WVI are eligible for tax benefit under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act. Most of the funds and donations come from individual sponsors of children. Over 50,000 Indians contribute to help impact the lives of over 2.5 lakh children in WVI projects across the country. Donors are encouraged to meet the children they sponsor. You can share in WVI’s activities by sponsoring a child, giving a financial gift or volunteering and spending time with children and families that it supports. When you sponsor a child through WVI, it is usually a 10-year commitment. You are sent a photo and personal details of the child that you have sponsored, his/her family, and information about its community. Sponsors receive an annual report on the child’s progress for the entire period of the programme.

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