2018 End of Year Report
December 31, 2018
SIDDA is a little girl who lives in southern India. She was born in the Ejipura Slum district on the outskirts of Bangalore, which is today a mega city and India’s thriving “Silicon Valley.” Bangalore is the country’s leading information technology exporter, a metropolitan that continues to expand its undreamed of possibilities. The Embassy GolfLinks Business Park in Bangalore is a host to leading blue chip companies like IBM, Fidelity Investments, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Tivo Corp and Yahoo to name a few western conglomerates. It is also headquarters to many Indian conglomerates. The population of Bangalore is about 10 million. Scores of Bengalaru nouveau riche live in luxury houses comparable to Hollywood homes in Malibu.
Yet just south of Bangalore, is the Ejipura Slum with its population of 30,000 inhabitants who live in tiny one space homes without running water or indoor plumbing.
Ejipura Neighborhood as described by Wikipedia: The locality is infamous for its congestion, narrow lanes, unsafe buildings, water logging, overflowing drains, and roads ridden by potholes and garbage dumpings. In 2013, over 5000 people were evicted from housing in the area to clear space for a shopping mall. In October 2017, a two-storey building collapsed in the area causing seven deaths and injuries to seven others.
Sidda is a ten year old girl who lives in the Ejipura Slum. She, her older sister Darshini (12), a younger brother (5), a baby, and parents in their early thirties, live in a small open space house which serves as a living room by day, a bedroom by night and a kitchen. They have no running water and no toilet facilities. They must use “public toilets” which are in such deplorable conditions unmaintained by the municipality that often people rather do their toileting elsewhere, in open nature.
In the state of Karnataka, where Bangalore is located, there are 2000 slums. Half of them, about 1000 are in Bangalore. The Ejipura Slum where Sidda and her family live, is one of the 1000. Hardly any state aid trickles down to them.
Bangalore is the “5th most populous urban agglomeration in India. ” Like any fast growing city lacking the time and will for solid planning, explosive growth has brought about “rapidly escalating social inequality, mass displacement and dispossession, proliferation of slum settlements, epidemic health crises due to severe water shortage and sewage problems in poor and working class neighborhoods.”
Bangalore generates about 3000 tonnes of solid waste per day. One third is collected and sent to composting units. The other two thirds is collected by the municipality and dumped in open spaces or ON ROADSIDES outside the city.
Slums proliferate around dump sites as they are valuable hunting grounds for still edible garbage and recyclable goods which can also be sold. For many slum families, reselling recyclable trash is their only income.
Fortunately, for Sidda’s family, her father has a steady job. Even though he is physically disabled, he is able to work as a tailor making about $50 a month. Because he is determined to provide a better future for his children, he does not drink alcohol, smoke or gamble. Sidda’s mother, Rajeswari is a stay home mom as there is also a baby to care for. $50 must house and feed two adults, 3 kids and a baby. Mostly, they eat plain rice with a little curry. They purchase food on a day to day basis. Groceries include rice; ragi which is finger millet flour which is used to make flatbreads like dosa and roti; pulses/legumes; cooking oil, wheat flour and curry spices. There is very little to zero nutritional value to the foods that are consumed. There is no money for eggs, milk or fruit. That money is spent on sending the two older children to school.
Sidda’s family’s tiny house is located about half a mile inside of the slum. The house is not free. Father Malraj must pay rent to the municipality. Electricity is provided with the rent payment but not water. Every other day, for just 2 hours, the government provides slum inhabitants with tap water from a public tap. Every family in the slum must collect drinking and cooking water during that allotted 2-hour period, every other day only. This is such a hardship, it is unimaginable to us. A child having to go outside in the middle of the night to relief itself is also unimaginable. Sidda and her siblings, hundreds, thousands of slum kids are treated like Throw Away children by their own government. The nuclear slum families, however, are strong and loving families like any other family in the world. They try as best they can “to survive and earn their livelihood with dignity and respect.” But theirs is a day to day survival, all energies focused on how and where the next meal will come from.
When I was in India two years ago, I asked the question of some: “Practically right across town are so many rich people, why don’t they want to help the poor?” Generally, what came back was, “What can one person do? This problem is so big. After all, it is the Government’s problem not ours. Besides, it is their (the poor people’s) karma.” I was glad that in the western world, we don’t put too much stock into karma! It is not all bad news. The parents of Sidda came to know of an NGO (non-government-organization) called MASARD — Mass-based Association for Social service and Rural Development.
“MASARD came into being in 1986, the culmination of a long cherished dream of Dr. J.L. Fernandes, an accomplished social activist who together with other like-minded academics and professionals commissioned MASARD as a movement to work towards eradicating poverty in Bangalore’s urban slums and surrounding rural villages.”
Dr. Fernandes runs the Ashanilaya Orphanage which is also located in Ejipura where Sidda and her family live in a slum close to the Orphanage. Because Sidda is a sponsored child, she and her family can enjoy numerous benefits from the many developmental programs offered by the Ashanilaya Orphanage. Only sponsored children’s families have access to these benefits because developmental programs cost money and the money has to come from somewhere. Sponsors like you, and donations from sponsors, provide this invaluable aid to these most marginalized families.
Currently, Sidda’s family is being sponsored by MotherFoundation-US, our nonprofit which is also sponsoring another little girl, Yashoda who lives at the Ashanilaya Orphange.
Sponsorship programs for children at the Ashanilaya Orphanage and for children who live in the Ejipura Slum are run by Seva Children Norway which implements its sponsorship activities through MASARD located in Ejipura, India.
Sidda’s story is one of countless many in India. If her story moves you into wanting to do something for a child, you can contact Lars Johnsen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to the website www.sevachildrennorway.org and you may just find the photograph of a child that speaks to you. That is how Mother Foundation-US chose its two children to sponsor. I shall most likely be visiting them in March 2019. Thank you for taking the time to read about Sidda. She is representative of numerous little ones just like her. Each child may tell a slightly different story but the commonalities are always the same — extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition and little access to education.
Last year’s contributions to SevaChild made possible the administration of an entire year’s worth of Vitamin A to more than 1,000,000 children at risk of Vitamin A deficiency disorder. SevaChild’s goal is to increase its reach to an additional 1,000,000 children annually as part of its ongoing efforts to protect an estimated 30,000,000 Indian children left vulnerable against the ravages of VADD each year. VADD can lead to blindness and even death in very small children.
Mother Foundation-US is immeasurably grateful to all — for your donations, your prayers, your love and your support. Donations to MF-US are also being directed to saving the eye sight of children in India. You can read about VADD (Vitamin A Deficiency Disorder) in www.sevachild.org. MF-US is teaming up with SevaChild for VADD projects in and around Rishikesh, northern India this March 2019.
May the coming holiday season fill you with abundant blessings, boundless joy and ever lasting peace. Love and God bless you, Suyin & Steve
Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves,
the tide and gravity, we shall harness
the energies of love. Then, for the second time
in the history of the world,
man will have discovered fire.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin