WCF partners with Divine Welfare Trust (DWT) to provide for the basic needs of children in West Bengal, India. With the COVID-19 Relief Care Kits, we are hoping to provide for 1,300 families or approximately 7,800 persons. DWT is responding to the major nutritional and educational deficits that underprivileged children and youth in India face through a feeding program as well as a free educational center and provision of free uniforms, books, and school supplies.
In India, 62 million children under the age of 5 (48% of children in that age range) are stunted. This is the highest number of stunted children in the world and accounts for one third of the global number of stunted children under the age of 5. Stunting causes reduced physical and mental development. India has more than 25 million children who suffer from wasting, an acute undernutrition disorder. Young adults also suffer from not having their nutritional needs met. Seventy percent of young girls are anemic and half of adolescents a body mass index that is lower than normal.
Education is also a key part of proper nutrition. According to UNICEF, the percentage of children who are severely underweight is almost five times higher among children whose mothers have no education than among children whose mothers have 12 or more years of schooling. It has been shown that women’s low education levels and social status put them and their children at risk for malnutrition. Sixty million children in India have little, if any, formal education. Over 11 million children in the lower secondary school level are out of school. At the upper secondary level, 46.8 million children are not in school, and nearly 3 million children do not attend primary school. DWT works hard to provide free education for those who could not afford it otherwise and equal opportunities for boys and girls through vocational training, nutrition, and health care.
WCF Medical volunteers have seen a total of 2,677 patients in India since 2009. WCF has sponsored free medical and dental clinics as well as healthcare seminars in New Delhi, Gujurat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Many of the patients we see suffer from gastrointestinal issues, musculoskeletal pain, skin problems, Type 2 diabetes, intestinal worms, bacterial infections, and malnutrition, among other illnesses. Hundreds of people walk for hours to get to our clinics held in remote village areas. Healthcare is inaccessible for most, as 70% of the population lives in rural areas where hospitals and clinics are scarce. There is 1 physician per 1,538 people in India, as compared to 1 per 413 people in the United States. Although private hospitals in urban areas provide quality care, most of the private expenditure on health in India is out of pocket. This means most of the time, the average person pays for their healthcare expenses with their hard earned money. This is not feasible for the vast majority of Indians, especially those who struggle to feed and clothe their families and send their children to school.