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Members of our organization were first exposed to the hardships poverty inflicts on children when we joined a group of volunteers to work and fundraise to support poor families in Deoghar, a city in the Indian state of Jharkhand.  Following our volunteer work, some of us traveled north to Bihar state, the birthplace of Buddhism which now has 350 million followers around the world.  Today, Bihar is one of the poorest states in India and the majority of people there live in severe poverty.

While in Bodhgaya, a city in Bihar, we visited an orphanage and witnessed the even greater hardships facing children without parental care.  The cramped 3 room orphanage cared for more than 50 boys and girls aged 5-13 years old.  The building was old, in poor condition and unclean.  The children slept 4-5 per bed constructed of wooden frames.  The boys had thin mattresses while the girls did not and slept directly on the wooden frames. It
lacked the basic necessities for adequate
nutrition, education and medical care.

The children were not adequately fed and had not eaten fruit in over a month.  If no food was available they did not eat at all.  The children received life skills training such as cooking and basic hygiene but no training on how to obtain and maintain employment.  The orphanage lacked basic medical supplies and no money was available for medical treatments.  One child had a wooden spoon used as a splint for his broken arm.

When the children are forced to leave the orphanage at age 13, they are poorly prepared to support themselves.  Often the children, especially the girls, are forced to beg and scavenge to survive on the streets, become menial labourers or worse, prostitutes.  To provide minor relief, our group of volunteers bought and supplied the orphanage with 8 mattresses for the girls that slept on the floor, and produce for all the children.

Witnessing the impacts of poverty on these children deeply impacted us.  When we returned to Canada in December 2008 one member, Tarik Kadri, founded Paper Kite Children’s Foundation to improve the living conditions and futures of the children most at risk, orphans and especially orphaned girls.

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