Children in Crisis: The World’s Greatest ‘Badge of Shame’ | GFA World Special Report Part 2

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by KP Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this 2nd part of a Special Report on the world’s greatest ‘badge of shame’: Children in Crisis .

Without much to call their own, these two boys hold tightly to each other. The streets are a dangerous place for anyone to live, but even more so for vulnerable, and often exploited children.

Child Sacrifice: Boy’s Head ‘Sold by Father For $2,000’

Moses' grave site.
15-year-old Moses went out to buy potatoes and never returned home. His heartsick parents found his body the following week. He is laid to rest here, the cruel victim of child sacrifice and leaves behind not only parents, but his three-year-old sister. This community in Uganda now has a unique alert system that has already rescued two children from a similarly awful fate. ©2014 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren

Other street boys, Kandwanaho told me, fall victim to Uganda’s sinister underworld of child sacrifice. With its roots in witchcraft, child sacrifice is still practiced among both the poor and the rich. Wealthy businessmen abduct a young street boy with few physical blemishes, have him beheaded and then bury the boy’s head under the foundation of a new building “to bring them luck” with their new money-making venture, Kandwanaho said.

A report by ABC Newstells the story of a young mother who found the headless body of her 17-month-old son in a shallow grave in a banana plantation in her rural village near the Congo border. “I pulled my son’s body out of the soil,” she said. “I realized he had no head.” The child’s killer turned out to be his own father, who was given $2,000 by a rich businessman in return for the boy’s head.[16]

Atrocities against street children are not confined to any single country. In Brazil, news reports tell of organized “death squads” that deliberately seek out and murder street children viewed as nothing more than garbage littering the streets.[17]

Kandwanaho showed me where his friends sometimes sleep inside giant, used tractor tires, piled up in a yard. One night, they were swept up in a police “clean-up” operation and transported to a children’s detention center outside Kampala. Every year, hundreds of street kids end up in “remand” centers, juvenile prisons, where they can be detained for months or even years without a court hearing. their crime? Often, it’s just living or begging on the streets and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sixty Feet, a nonprofit organization, helps bring smiles back to marginalized and forgotten children.
Sixty Feet serves in the midst of pain and hurt to help bring smiles back to the children most of their society has written off or forgotten. Photo by Sixty Feet

Nonprofit organizations such as Sixty Feet seek to help children in the prison facilities. Their vision is to “provide a Gospel-centered continuum of care for critically vulnerable children that includes minimizing contact with the law, providing for critical needs, and supporting long-term restoration.”[18]

In Uganda, many street kids are from the northern Karamojong tribe.[19] They’ve fled the underdeveloped, famine-prone region to come to the capital, where they live in crowded slums, such as the Katwe slum featured in the Disney movie Queen of Katwe, and beg at the intersections. These beautiful children, especially the girls, are extremely vulnerable to sexual predators.

Every month, scores of Karamojong children and families arrive in Kampala, putting more pressure on the slums and increasing the number of kids competing for handouts.

Kids as young as 3 wander along the streets, their hands outstretched, narrowly avoiding the perilous open drainage ditches. If they collect a few thousand Ugandan shillings, maybe 50 cents or a dollar, it goes straight to their parent or someone posing as a parent. Mostly, though, they’re ignored by passers-by and motorists, many of whom believe they’re simply feeding the problem and incentivizing begging if they give a handout.

This exodus of children from poorer, rural areas to the cities in search of food and work is not unique to Uganda. It’s a global phenomenon in poor, underdeveloped countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Street children begging on the streets of South Asia
Small fingers reach through the jeep’s open window. These children shift through the busy traffic in Maharashtra risking life and limb in hopes a few rupees will be slipped their way.

Children at Risk of Starvation

Children in poverty from Haiti walks by mud cakes drying in the sun
Haitian children walk by ‘mud cakes’ drying in the sun. The cakes, made of dirt, salt and oil, make a cheap food to stave off hunger. At 2 cents each, they’re the only affordable food option for thousands of Cite Soleil kids at risk and other impoverished residents. Photo by Crossroads Foundation, Flickr

When crops fail due to drought or other calamity, or work opportunities dry up, children and their parents often face a stark choice: move… or starve.

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of young children around the world suffering acute malnutrition, a polite term for starvation, was expected to skyrocket by 20 percent in 2020, according to a report by the UN[20] That’s an additional 10 million starving children worldwide. “Children living on the streets are particularly at risk,” the report says.

In Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, I’ve watched children eat “mud cakes,” sun-dried cakes made from dirt mixed with salt, water and a little margarine.[21] Mud cakes are a symbol of the despair children face in this Caribbean island nation—a sense of hopelessness that continues into adulthood.

“Ask a Haitian, ‘what do you think you’ll be doing in five years?’ and he will laugh,” a Haitian doctor told me. “Our people do not think about tomorrow; we do not plan for the future. We live from day to day. We are a people in survival mode.”

Around the world, humanitarian agencies such as GFA World (Gospel for Asia, www.gfa.org) have increased efforts to feed the most vulnerable children and their families during the pandemic as millions of day laborers have been laid off from jobs or unable to work because of lockdowns.

The Texas-based agency has distributed food to tens of thousands of families on the edge of starvation in Asia and Africa, filling a critical gap for parents facing the near-impossible task of feeding their children amide total loss of income and with no safety net to fall back on. “The situation in our village is terrible,” one parent told GFA World. “We don’t have any work and we’re unable to provide food.”

Child hunger is also growing in rich nations, such as the US, where more than 11 million children live in “food insecure” homes and don’t have enough to eat, according to the US Government.[22] A staggering 18 million children in the US could go hungry in 2021 because of the pandemic’s economic impact, according to the No Kid Hungry campaign.[23] In the UK, 1.8 million school-age children—one in every five kids—is at risk of hunger.[24]

These children and their family struggle with hunger due to poverty
Uttar Pradesh: Most of the families in this neighborhood live in small houses in the surrounding fields, and typically struggle to make ends meet financially. Parents often earn 50-60 rupees per day as manual laborers, meaning that the family goes hungry, including their children, like these young ones shown here.

Thirsty? How About a Cup of Feces-contaminated Water?

Small size collecting unclean water from an open water source
Sinduhli, Nepal, March 2021: As the water levels underground start shrinking, people collect water from small puddles in the forest for drinking. This small boy was asked by his parents, who were working in the fields, to fetch water for drinking from a puddle in the hills. But the water collected from these open puddles can be full of germs and bacteria, as other animals and birds use them too, often causing fatal diseases.

Hunger is dreadful, but for millions of children, the most immediate threat to their health and survival is the lack of safe drinking water. A staggering 2 billion people, mostly in Africa and Asia, get their drinking water from feces-contaminated ponds and watering holes, leading to often-fatal diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Children under the age of 5 are the most at-risk.[25] The World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly one in every three people in the world doesn’t have access to safe drinking water,[26] and the UN predicts that by the year 2050 up to 5.7 billion people worldwide could be affected by water shortages.[27] Drinking contaminated water can lead to many deadly diseases, such as typhoid, hepatitis A, and diarrhea. Globally, diarrhea kills almost 2,200 children every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).[28]

Organizations like World Vision and GFA World have made clean drinking water a top priority.

More than 38 million people have received safe, pure drinking water through GFA World's clean water initiatives.GFA World drills about 4,000 new community wells called “Jesus Wells” every year, providing safe drinking water for entire villages. Over the past two decades, the organization has drilled more than 30,000 wells and distributed more than 58,000 BioSand water filters that remove 98 percent of water impurities.[29]

The organization’s Jesus Wells supply safe drinking water to approximately 37.5 million people across Asia—roughly equivalent to the entire population of California.

Dr.  KP Yohannan, GFA Founder
Dr. KP Yohannan, GFA Founder

“We offer clean, life-giving water to all people,” says GFA World founder, KP Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan). “The Lord has used our efforts to bring clean water to the suffering. They receive healthy, life-sustaining support. This gift of free water is one more way we are able to demonstrate the love of Jesus for those in need.”

Jesus Wells are deep wells, drilled in remote villages in Asia where girls often have to trek miles on foot every day to the nearest watering hole or pond to fetch water, putting themselves at risk of sexual assault and even tiger attacks.

“Our family members were suffering from diarrhea and other [waterborne] diseases,” says Arnab, father of three girls and a boy, describing the difference a Jesus Well has made in his village. “Our children who were sick are healthy now.”


Give to Help Support Children at Risk & Kids in Crisis »

If this special report has touched your heart and you would like to make a real difference in the lives of children in crisis around the world, and bring hope to kids at risk of violence, impoverishment, or child labor, then make a generous one time or monthly gift to help kids in need in Asia or Africa.


About GFA World

GFA World (www.gfa.org) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and sharing the love of God. In GFA World’s latest yearly report, this included thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income- generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and providing teaching hope and encouragement available in 110 languages ​​in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World has launched programs in Africa, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://gfanews.org/news.


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