The children at Ashray Bhavan, our hostel for boys in Delhi, and at Asha Bhavan, the girls' equivalent hostel, will be enjoying a wonderful Christmas party this year. They also usually sing at some of the bigger hotels in Delhi, where the guests enjoy their performances so much that the management always ask them back.
It is our fervent prayer that, one day, all children within the Indian sub continent will look forward to life as much as the children in the hostels do. At present, for many, life is a struggle. 42% of the population live below the International Poverty line of less than $1.25 a day, and half of all children are underweight and malnourished - double the percentage of children that are underweight and malnourished in sub-Saharan Africa.
Health problems affect large swathes of the population. As well as the eye problems mentioned yesterday, and the inevitable consequences of malnutrition, there are other diseases that are prevalent, especially in the slums from which our children are drawn. Urban malaria, tuberculosis and pneumonia, leprosy, meningitis and diarrhoea diseases all take their toll, together with problems stemming from industrial and air pollution, and preventable infections in children such as measles, whooping cough and polio.
Like every country in the world, India also has to battle HIV/AIDS. It is not a problem that affects a large percentage of the population. In 2008, it was reported that just 0.34% of the population is living with HIV. However, although that does not sound a huge amount, in a country as populous as India, it actually equates to 2.31 million people. Of these approximately 80,000 are children. WIN is actively working towards decreasing this number both by educating people from the earliest possible age, alerting them to the dangers, showing them how to avoid them, and also by helping the children achieve their fullest potential, gaining the knowledge and qualifications that will enable them to leave behind the lifestyles that leave them vulnerable.