A Visit to Cilpajodi, Odisha
Cilpajodi is located in a very remote area of Odisha, the poorest state in India. It is part of a tribal, agrarian community, where almost everyone works in the fields, and four out of five families live on less than $1 a day. Living conditions are very primitive with a lack of basic knowledge of hygiene, healthy habits and medical care. Education is not considered important, and many of the children don’t attend school, which is offered through 8th grade. Consequently, most people are illiterate. We began our ministry in Cilpajodi in 2012, recognizing the extreme needs of the community and specifically the children in that community. As we strive to bring the people in this community into a more modern age by emphasizing the importance of education and literacy, as well as teaching them healthier ways of living, it is important that we also maintain and honor the rich culture and heritage of the people in this area
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
Unique Community Parnerships
The Cilpajodi and Dholdholi Child and Mother Care Centres were started by Godfrey Rajkumar, a Bethania Kids employee who was a traveling pastor in his younger life. Serving the remote villages in Odisha, Godfrey brought the love of Christ to Cilpajodi and Dholdholi and wanted to establish centers to help local families. A unique aspect of the Bethania Kids ministry in Odisha is its acceptance in the long-established and tight-knit tribal communities, where changes are met with resistance. Improved attitudes and ways of living can only be achieved through the building of relationships and trust. Daily visits by staff to the houses of the children in our care centers are effecting positive changes in family life and conduct. Parents are following the examples of their children by bathing regularly, wearing clean clothes and caring for themselves. The mothers who attend the center are now sharing their sorrows as well as their joys with the staff, demonstrating the bond of trust that has been established.
A Day at the Cilpajodi Children and Mother Care Centre
It is early in the morning when the 50 children start arriving at the Child and Mother Care Centre. They wash up after the long walks from their homes before morning devotions begin at 7:30 am, followed by an hour of study time. They are fed breakfast before they depart for school, now on bicycles. The children return from school to the Child and Mother Care Centre at 4 pm. After playing for half an hour, they get help with their homework, are fed and pray before heading back home. Three teachers, a cook and a helper care for these children with love, witnessing God’s love in action.
While the children are at school, our staff make home visits to teach family members the same values and lessons the children are being taught and to reaffirm the importance of attending school. They also educate the family about issues such as cleanliness, the proper handling of food, disease prevention, family planning, and child care. Worship services at Cilpajodi are held on Saturday at our Child and Mother Care Centre. The children are eager to attend and enthusiastically participate.
The Cilpajodi Child and Mother Care Centre
Through a tribal partnership established in 2017, Bethania Kids worked with the community to construct a new center. The building is 40 by 90 feet and has now become the community center. It replaces the rented space previously used. Bethania Kids donors made the new center possible. A new well was also installed, providing a source of clean water for the villagers. An immediate success, this center now provides day care, after-school care, community health classes, and personal hygiene, English, and education programs. Rich in culture, this remote agrarian village relies on the Bethania Kids day care and after-school care programs to serve their children while the parents work in the fields. The programs include preschool, after-school care, and a Women’s Empowerment Program.
Our new Child and Mother Care Centre building is a beautiful space for the 50 children who walk an average of two miles from their respective villages to attend. It is still another two miles of walking to get to their school. These distances are a big reason many of the children skip school. No wonder the children were so delighted when the center acquired 16 bicycles for them to ride to school! They eagerly learned to ride the bicycles and now happily double up to ride to school. The teacher are also very pleased that these children will now be more likely to attend school regularly.
Help for Mothers and Children
Every day, women and their children come to the center. The mothers volunteer, helping the project staff take care of children. They learn how to nurture and raise their own children by working at the Cilpajodi Centre. The mothers who are interested have learned to sign their names in English as well as in their own language. Working with a local agency, we teach the village mothers reading, writing and arithmetic. The children and their mothers under our care are nurtured daily through morning and evening prayers, Bible reading and singing. The mothers, as well as the men, are brought to Christ through their children. A nearby local evangelist gathers the village mothers and adult men to teach them about Christ. Most of the villagers offer prayers to the Lord.
In fall of 2018, Cilpajodi was hit with a devastating flood. Flood damage limited the crop growth for the year, sending much of the area into poverty. As a result, the families of Cilpajodi Child and Mother Care Centre have had to sustain themselves through a period of extreme hardship. Many received grants of 10 pounds of rice per person per month. Fields for crops were restored, and vegetable gardens for consumption and sale were rebuilt. The children and families have been working hard planting gardens and flowers around the new care centers.
Staff at Cilpajodi Child and Mother Care Centre
Bhagaban Harijan is the Bethania Kids project caretaker for the Cilpajodi Child and Mother Care Centre. Growing up in a village 13 miles away, he was inspired to serve by the following verse, which he learned at vacation Bible school: “Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” Bhagaban learned English while teaching at a private primary English school. He joined Bethania Kids in 2012, inspired by the chance to serve others in great need, especially the people of his own area, and has been in charge of Cilpajodi Child and Mother Care Centre since its beginning. Together with his wife, Sushila, and teachers Jaya Santa and Sushila Sagaria, he has dedicated his life in service to those in great poverty. They are changing lives in this village.
The Village of Cilpajodi
The village of Cilpajodi has an agrarian economy. The people have a rich cultural heritage from their deep tribal affiliations. Known for their music and dance, old and young alike participate in beautiful festive celebrations. We share their joy and pray for their better life through the services of Bethania Kids.
Testimonies from a Cilpajodi Family
Ayuba Santa is an example of the difference Bethania Kids’ Child and Mother Care Centre has made in one child’s life. Now 16 years old, he has been attending our centre since he was 10. His mother is disabled, both his mother and father are alcoholics, and all of his family members are illiterate. Ayuba describes his life before his acceptance at Bethania Kids as joyless and ignorant. Being so impoverished and with little food to eat, he had no aim in life and spent his days roaming the streets. Now he studies hard in school and at the centre. His happiness is evident in his face and in his interactions with his friends and the staff. His growing faith in the Lord is reflected in his prayers and active engagement in Bible studies. He prays that God will help him achieve his goal of becoming a civil engineer.
How Can You Help?
This ministry needs constant prayer! They are in a tribal area remote and difficult to reach, but the ministry is doing well serving the community. Please pray for the children, parents and staff.
- Donate $35/month or $420/year to Sponsor a Child (one or more) at a care center.
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
There are countless ways to participate in this vibrant ministry and share God’s love with the children at Bethania Kids.