Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently Asked Questions

    As a new or existing supporter, we’re sure you have some questions about our charity! We’ve put together some of the most commonly asked questions below, and we’ll keep adding to them!

    As a small charity, we aim to be open and honest with our supporters. We will always answer any additional queries our supporters may have!

    About India Direct:

    Why should I support children in India when it is a growing economy with a space programme?

    This is probably one of the most common questions we get asked, unfortunately the answer has been very similar for over 15 years.

    India is around the 11th biggest economy in the world, but, according to the last census (2011), India also has the second biggest population. This means that if everyone had an equal share (per capita GDP) India is around 140th in the world, behind many other countries such as Sudan, Philippines, and the Republic of Congo (World Bank 2013). There is just not enough to go round. According to UNICEF “One in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.” and “In India, around 46 per cent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 percent are underweight and at least 16 percent are wasted. Many of these children are severely malnourished.”

    The fact that India’s economy is growing relatively quickly has the disadvantage that inflation is a long standing problem, with food prices rising around 9%p.a. and fuel around 10% p.a. This inevitably means that very poor people can afford even less. So supporting children in India may not be fashionable, but it is sadly very necessary.

    We’ve seen the poverty in India first hand. As trustees, we run India Direct because we know it makes a difference. The poorest in India do struggle to live, despite the ‘booming’ economy. Whilst we have been encouraged by recent increases in the standard of living in India, many still live in unimaginable poverty and these are the children we aim to help get an education and a more certain future.

    Why should I support India Direct rather than another charity?

    There are lots of charities, large and small, trying to make life better for the world’s poor, so why should you support us? Because we are a small charity, we know the importance of every penny of your donation, and we aim to make sure your money works hard. No one from India Direct is paid, we are all volunteers, and put our own money into the projects, too! We know and trust our partners who run the projects in India. We keep our running costs to an absolute minimum. Our biggest regular cost is the charges we incur in transferring money to India, and we are always looking for ways to reduce these.

    Apart from this we pride ourselves on the quality of care we give the children in the Homes. over the years several of the trustees have visited other children’s homes in India and been dismayed by the harshness of the environment. We try to make Bethel and Joy healthy, happy and encouraging places to grow up, and to ensure the children have access to a good education.

    How can I get more involved in your charity work?

    What we currently need most help with is fundraising, due to the high cost of running Bethel and Joy Children’s Homes. We have some ideas for fundraising on our website here.

    Alternatively, if you think you may be able to offer us other skills and are interested in being involved in the work of India Direct, we’re always happy to engage with new supporters and volunteers. Please contact us via email, by clicking here.

    About Donations & Sponsorship:

    <strong>How is Child Sponsorship money used? </strong>

    Your money is put into the housekeeping budget and shared equally between the children in both homes, so that they all get the same love and care and no child is singled out for special treatment. It is a contribution towards the daily needs of the children and the running costs of the home.

    We spend it on food, clothes, school fees, school uniforms and equipment, basic medical care, gas, electricity, maintaining the drinking water borehole, sewage removal, school minibus, animal care, staff wages and maintaining the fabric, structure and contents of the buildings.

    You’ll maintain a special relationship and contact with one child in particular whom you ‘sponsor’, but they will be treated the same as everyone else, apart from gifts/cards you may send to them. They will also contact you back!

    <strong>How is Children’s Home sponsorship money used? </strong>

    It is used in exactly the same way as a child sponsor’s donation. The only difference is that you are not linked to a particular child.

    <strong>How are individual donations spent?</strong>

    Unless you specify a different project, we put one-off donations into running the homes and caring for the children. This type of giving is very important as most of the children are not sponsored.

    About Our Children’s Homes:

    <strong>Why don't you support children in their own communities?</strong>

    We do, if the circumstances are right and we can be sure the money is spent wisely. A child can be supported with school fees, but live with their family. We can also enrol a parent into the Widows Care Project. Once a fortnight, our widows come to the charity office to receive a small cash sum to pay for schooling, uniforms, rent or food. We have also given local people training and equipment to secure their own livelihoods and we run free medical camps when we can.

    Sadly many poor families cannot be helped in this way because they suffer from a catalogue of serious problems such as homelessness, unemployment, poverty, serious health problems, mental illness, alcoholism and depression. These can lead to parents abandoning their children, abusing them or committing suicide, leaving their children extremely vulnerable and damaged. We do not have the resources to support such families, but if we have space in our homes we can help their children.

    <strong>How do you choose who to admit? </strong>

    Priority is given to children in greatest need. Orphans are admitted first, then children with families in crisis. Places are limited and we have a waiting list.

    <strong>What basic medical care is provided?</strong>

    We can provide only for minor ailments. There are many clinics and hospitals in India, but access to medical care is not free or nearby. We send our children to safe hospitals but can only afford to pay a maximum of Rs 5,000 (£60) for hospital visits, consultations, blood tests, scans and basic medicines.

    A simple scan costs £10. If anyone has urgent medical needs such as surgery or long term medical care, we try to raise the money through an emergency appeal to our supporters.

    <strong>How do you maintain family relationships?</strong>

    We have a family visiting day once a month. We give our visitors snacks when they arrive and pay for travel costs, without which families could not afford to see their children. In addition to this, parents can arrange to visit at any time.

    When children are admitted, we encourage their parents to visit regularly and to join us in December for the Christmas Direct celebrations.

    Once a year, children go back to their families for up to five days. In practice, most parents do not take the opportunity to visit and children want to come back to the home after a couple of days away.

    <strong>Can I help my sponsored child's family? </strong>

    Yes, in some cases it is possible to help your child’s family with some basic needs. Annie will visit the family, assess their needs and decide how best to help. It may be the right decision to buy an animal, repair their home, buy cooking pots, blankets or clothes.

    It is important to be sensitive to others around them living in poverty too, so as not cause too much jealousy. Please email us if you wish to contribute in this way, so that we can begin the process for you.

    <strong>Can I choose the age or gender of my child?</strong>

    If you have your heart set on sponsoring a boy or a girl, or a child of a particular age, we will do our best to help.

    We are not like other charities in showing you a range of images of various children, before allowing you to pick. We try and find sponsors for children who are most likely to remain in the children’s homes for a long period.

    <strong>Can I send a personal gift for my child?</strong>

    From our experience, it is best not to send personal gifts, which can be lost in the post and are upsetting for the children who do not have sponsors. If you wish, do send a donation to the Birthday Fund, which Annie uses to buy gifts for every child on their birthday.

    If there is a large surplus in the fund, the money is sometimes used to take all the children out for the day – a very rare treat!

    <strong>How do you maintain trust in the community?</strong>

    The homes are registered with the Government and inspected regularly. We have open days for parents and relatives, so that everyone can see the results of the good childcare we provide. Locals say that they respect the LCCT and India Direct charities for their work.

    Parents or relatives have the right to see their children at any time if they have any concerns, while parents and relatives can take their children from the homes at any time. We have a strict child protection policy in place, whereby no-one can enter the homes without the authorisation of the trustees and all visits are supervised by staff or trustees.

    <strong>What does it mean to be a 'christian' Children's Home? </strong>

    Though the children and staff at both homes come from different faiths, all live and work peacefully together. At admission we make it known that Annie, Martin and Omega are Christians, so that parents can decide if they are still comfortable leaving their child in our care, but we are insistent that religion is never a barrier to access for any child.

    Our children learn some Christian songs, they are invited to say grace at mealtimes and are given a blessing before bed, in a similar way to daily acts of worship at some British primary schools. All are taught good behaviour and discipline. We have no intention to convert anyone and the children are free to follow their own faith.

    Some of India Direct’s trustees are Christians, some are not. All the trustees share the same values, reflected in the management of the homes: love, compassion and providing hope for some of India’s poorest people.

    There is never any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, politics or social status. No child is less likely to be admitted to the home on the basis of any of these characteristics.

    <strong>Can I visit the homes?</strong>

    It is possible to visit the children’s home and our projects in India to see your child and the work we do. All visits are planned well in advance and supervised by a trustee.

    Please contact us if you would like to know more.

    <strong>Why might a child leave the home?</strong>

    Children have various reasons for leaving us. Parents have the right to take their children out of the homes for any reason. One day our children will leave us permanently and, in most cases, they will go back to their communities where they will be in a better position to provide for their families. Children may come into the homes for short- or long-term stays, depending on their circumstances. Occasionally family circumstances change for the better and the children can return to normal family life. There are other reasons for a child’s departure.

    • To return to a parent who realises that they cannot bear to be parted from their child.
    • If they are considered old enough to help support their family at home.
    • To help care for elderly or infirm relatives.
    • To be closer to parents if they move away to find work.
    • To be married, if they are over 18 and if they and their parents wish.

    Annie talks at length to parents to explain the longer term benefits of keeping their child in the homes until they have finished their education. The only way to prevent our children leaving us is through legal adoption, which would mean losing all contact with their relatives. Our policy is not to adopt children, but to maintain family relationships and to keep them connected to their roots.

    For child sponsors we choose children who are most likely to be staying in the home long-term. They may be sponsored for many years, and helped to find work and the means to support themselves. If your child leaves us we will ask if you would like to continue supporting the children’s homes.

    Click here to email us, and we'll answer as soon as possible!

    If we haven't answered your question here, please get in touch!

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