In 1988, Holt helped establish one of our longest-standing partner agencies in India. In Bangalore, we helped found Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT) — an organization that has, through the years, provided loving, attentive care to orphaned, abandoned or homeless children. Here, Holt also adapted our model of foster care — a model of attentive, nurturing care to help children grow and thrive while awaiting permanent placement. For these children, VCT worked to find permanent, loving families in both India and the U.S., and through the years, many Indian children have joined stable homes.
When our partnership with VCT began, the organization served as one of our primary adoption partners. Over the past 25 years, however, adoption has continuously changed in India. As domestic adoption has grown, fewer and fewer children are joining families in the U.S. Today, we continue to match a small number of children from VCT every year with Holt families. But now, we are happy to report that VCT has the opportunity to shift their primary focus to one of the greatest need in Bangalore — keeping vulnerable children with their families, and helping them access the resources they need to grow strong, stable and self-reliant.
Seeing an opportunity to combat poverty head-on, VCT will provide more educational opportunities, daycare services and support for children and families with special needs, while also continuing some of their most long-standing projects.
In India, limited educational opportunities, inadequate social and physical infrastructure and a persistent caste system often perpetuate a cycle of poverty for children and families. Often, children are abandoned — not because they are not loved, but because their families lack the resources to care for them.
With the help of Holt and other partners, VCT is now helping more than 800 children receive life-changing sponsorship services, primarily through educational partnerships that target adolescent girls. These services are critical to reuniting children with their families, preventing child abandonment and ending the cycle of poverty.
Where VCT works, education is expensive, so many families opt to keep boys in school and pull girls out of school to join the workforce, often as domestic servants. By providing girls with the opportunity to attend school, the entire family grows stronger because money that once went to school fees is free to be spent on other necessities. Girls who are educated are also more likely to find better employment and grow into happy, healthy adults.
VCT has also expanded their daycare services for pre-school aged children — a program similar to the American Head Start system, which provides early intervention services and education to children who are too young to attend primary school. This program provides children with quality care that prepares them for school, a nutritious lunch each day, and it allows parents to work while their children are in care during the day. Many of the children in the daycare program come from impoverished migrant families, many of whom have traveled from more rural areas to find work in cities like Bangalore. Here, they find labor-intensive jobs in the city’s growing industries and development projects — such as new construction projects. When parents can’t find childcare while they work, children sit at home or hang around construction sites — vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and neglect. The daycare program is critical to the health, safety and long-term educational success of these children. And, since nearly half of children in India are malnourished, the nutritional support and consistent care is especially vital to families who are working to gain financial stability and improve their overall health.
Seeing another great need in the community, VCT has also started a new pilot program that provides daycare services to children with moderate to severe special needs. Often, these families spend the majority of their day caring for their child —making it difficult to work and earn an income. By providing free daycare, VCT gives the families a chance to work, accomplish chores or errands, or just exercise a bit of downtime. In this way, daycare helps to strengthen the financial stability and well being of families raising children with special needs. VCT hopes to expand this program in the coming months.
VCT’s expanded services are critical to Holt’s overall mission of keeping children with their parents and helping parents to provide for their children long-term and prevent child abandonment.
Interested in sponsoring a girl’s education in India? Contact Aanya Bricker at firstname.lastname@example.org.