On Saturday, 14 June, I went to the Bangalore World Vision Partners’ Meet. The idea behind these meetings is, of course, for sponsors and World Vision to meet face to face, and all in all it was an evening well spent. We all finally got see Lily — the lady behind all the correspondence, urging us to send our sponsorships on time — and also some of the children from Gundlupet project area.
The high point of the meet was undoubtedly the cultural events put on by the children, but it was also interesting to know a little more about the sort of work World Vision does. There was a Q&A session where sponsors got to air their observations and grievances, but the answers were typically non-committal (“We’ll look into it”; “No, we’re not working in that area”; and so on) from the country director. The good thing was, when one approached Lily at the end of the event, she was far more helpful.
The figures, predictably, were depressing for a country of over 1 billion people, where over 800 million are tagged as “Below Poverty Line”. We like to beat the drums around the world proclaiming our 9 per cent growth rate, not highlighting the fact that the advantages accrued by that are only accessible to a negligible proportion of society, and certainly not to those 836 million who really need it, who struggle for basic needs such as food and shelter. With 40 per cent of schoolgoing age children out of school in that category, the future still looks bleak…
One is quite ashamed to note that while there are over 225,000 children being sponsored in India, only 23,780-odd among these are being supported by Indians. In all, there are only 32,582 active donors and sponsors who are Indian! (By the way, Bangalore accounts for 2,137 of the 32,000-odd.)
But as the poem goes, little drops of water… The children from Gundlupet showed that World Vision and their sponsors’ support may not have “ma[d]e our earth an Eden, like the heaven above”, but it has certainly made a difference in their lives. It has given them a future, and it has given them confidence.
When the sound system at the hall failed, the children just performed without the music, singing the song themselves! This from a group of children who had left their village for the first time, and were performing in a packed hall with at least 200 people. (Sorry about the picture and sound quality; and about the camerapeople obstructing the view.)
By December 2008, World Vision India needs 3,500 more sponsors. Do something meaningful and become one of those 3,500. It costs only Rs 600 (US$ 13) a month — an amount most of us don’t think twice about spending on a night out or on buying something useless.