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They take food, hope into Delhi’s slums

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 14, Southern Baptists will observe World Hunger Sunday and congregations across the United States will receive offerings for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. Since its inception in 1974, Southern Baptists have given more than $235 million through the fund. For information on the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, visit worldhungerfund.com.

DELHI, India (BP) — Poverty is extreme in the slums of Delhi, India — the eighth-largest city in the world — but Southern Baptists are making a life-changing difference for 90 children and their families through the World Hunger Fund.

When Asha* brought her two daughters to the Bread of Life nutrition program, both girls were spindly and their hair was merely small patches on their heads. Each month, the children were weighed and given a health assessment.

Like other children in the program, they were given medication for simple problems such as ear infections, worms or diarrhea. They also were given multivitamins, along with staples such as dried beans and lentils, rice, oil and soap.

After a few months, the girls had gained a little weight and were more responsive, and their hair had grown.

More than half of Delhi’s 22 million people live in areas with severely inadequate housing, electricity, sanitation and water, according to a government study. Slum dwellers find little reason for hope.

“Poverty is extreme in large areas surrounding the city of Delhi,” said Josie Gabdon,* a Baptist Global Response partner who directs the Bread of Life program in Delhi. “Children are starving, and disease is rampant. With a little food and education, we can improve the lives of these innocent children.”

Bread of Life is improving the health of 90 children and their families with monthly food supplements, multivitamins and medicine provided in part through the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. National partners identified two slums, each with populations of at least 40,000, to be the focus of the project.

Both slums are lacking in housing, electricity, sanitation and clean water. Narrow dirt paths wind through a maze of homes cobbled together from sticks, mud and plastic sheeting.

As families come to receive food, they are provided with basic health and nutrition lessons as well. Children are weighed and evaluated so progress can be monitored. Teachers and national partners are trained so they can continue lessons and follow up with children once the program has ended.

“The national partners are working with families in the community in several areas, and this project will assist them to show love and gain greater access to the community,” said Francis Horton, who with his wife Angie directs Baptist Global Response work in South Asia. “Truly we’ve found a place where people in need are being connected with people who care.”

When people struggle with dire poverty and feel no one cares about their plight, they are deeply moved when someone offers to help, Gabdon said.

“We continue to pray for these communities, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the only one who can transform their lives,” Gabdon said. “By caring for physical needs, we find people eager to know why we want to help them. The love of Christ compels us.”
With reporting by Mark Kelly of Baptist Global Response.

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  • Jane Middleton