10 years old sponsored child Nargis enjoys playing with the baby goats. In this picture, she is seen along with her father.
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Nargis: Her life in pictures

Thanks to her sponsor, Nargis was better prepared to face the pandemic.

For children like 10-year-old Nargis, who lives in Nagpur in central India, life right now is uncertain. But she doesn’t stand alone. Nargis is one of two million children in India who have the care and support of World Vision sponsors. Their sponsorship has been working across the country since 1958 to empower communities like Nargis's to face challenges with strength, even something like COVID-19. For Nargis, her sponsor’s support touches her life in dozens of ways every day. Here is a snapshot of her world.

 

10 years old World Vision sponsored child Nargis (center) enjoys playing with her baby goats along with her sister Fiza (right, yellow dress)

Nargis lives with her mother, father and her two sisters, 13-year-old Nazia and 8-year-old Fiza. Usually, Nargis’s parents would spend the monsoon season working as labourers on local farms. In summer, when the farm work dries up, her father would go to the city to find labouring work there. Months of lockdown meant that both of her parents lost work for weeks at a time.

But sponsors have been there to help Nargis’s family to cope. They received two goats through a microfinance project. Breeding the goats will empower Nargis’s family to build a sustainable, new source of income – and as a bonus, the babies are very cute! 

Scenes of daily life in Nagpur, India

Farming is the lifeblood of Nargis’s community in Nagpur. Long before COVID-19, sponsorship has been working with local farmers to strengthen the agricultural industry and improve local food security. Farmers were trained on crop diversification to improve soil quality and increase their yields. They were also taught to use organic fertilisers like goat and cow manure, and natural pesticides like neem leaves and garlic, to reduce reliance on expensive chemicals.

 

10 years old World Vision sponsored child Nargis from Nagpur, India, enjoys having her meals along with her mother

During the monsoon season, when there’s plenty of work on local farms, it’s easy for Nargis’s parents to put food on the table. In summer, when the work is done, it’s always much harder – and the pandemic’s effects have made it even harder than usual. 

Although their goats provided an extra income, when COVID-19 hit, the loss of work left Nargis’s family still struggling to buy enough food. They received an emergency cash transfer to buy essentials like food, and will continue to receive support a year on with emergency food supplies to help her family manage the impacts of India’s subsequent pandemic waves.

10 years old World Vision sponsored child Nargis from Nagpur, India, is happy to attend school

Nargis loves school, and her favourite subjects are Mathematics and the local language, Marathi. She wants to become a teacher one day – and sponsorship is helping her to get there.

Though COVID-19 school closures have kept her out of class for much of the year, her sponsorship helped Nargis, and thousands of children like her, to continue learning with remote education materials. And when she is at school, it’s easier to study because her sponsorship provided solar energy, desks, chairs, a computer and different learning aids to make her school a better place to learn.

But even more importantly, the sponsorship programme has helped parents in her community learn how important education is – for girls as well as boys. World Vision child development facilitator Dhudnath says, “Now families are educating their girls much more than before; earlier, parents would prefer to send their boys to school or higher education. In fact, more girls are now pursuing higher education than boys!’’

Children from India are happily playing football

While many of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are visible, some of the most damaging impacts for children are happening behind closed doors. Families pushed deeper into poverty are being forced to make heartbreaking decisions to put food on the table, including sending their children to work, into marriage, and into other exploitative situations, instead of school. At the same time, lockdowns and school closures have separated children from many of the usual community networks that protect them. World Vision’s Aftershocks 2 report found that COVID-19 put 85 million more children at risk of physical, sexual and emotional violence between May and August in 2020 alone, and at least four million more girls would marry within the immediate two years.

Through sponsorship, sponsors help to keep children like Nargis safe, thanks to their regular support. World Vision staff and volunteers are working with communities to give awareness on children’s rights and strengthen child protection networks, and to empower kids themselves to stand up for their rights through a special child protection training. Nargis and other children in her community are part of a children’s club that teaches them about their rights and how to support each other. She has also had the chance to be part of Life Skills Education for Transformation training, designed to help children learn skills to keep them safe. 

A community in Nagpur, India, now has access to clean and safe drinking water, thanks to sponsorship

Water, sanitation and hygiene is critical to combatting COVID-19! Twenty years before this crisis, sponsors ensured people in Nagpur had the water they need now more than ever to stay healthy by building the check dam. Before the dam was built, the wells in the local area ran dry by February each year and the community faced crippling water shortages. Today, there is water all year round.

For years, sponsorship has helped keep children like Nargis healthy by installing handwashing taps, toilets and water filtration systems at the local school and teaching children about the importance of handwashing. Since COVID-19, hygiene has been an even greater focus of our work in Nagpur, with extra training on COVID-19 prevention, handwashing and wearing face masks; and soaps are distributed to every community.

COVID-19 has posed additional challenges for Nargis and her community as they work to build a future free from poverty. But with sponsors’ care and support, many of the root causes of poverty in her community were already being addressed, so that today, they can face the challenges head on.