A rural village sits within walking distance of Back2Back’s India Hope Campus in Hyderabad. There, in homes with open doorways, many families live and work in agriculture, hopeful for rainfall to bring their crops to harvest. The homes sit close together and line a combination of cement and dirt “roads.” This is the village where eight-year old Sudha lives with her mom, dad, and little brother.
Back2Back staff first met Sudha when they visited a local, government-run school in April of 2016. Rows of children sat wide-eyed and curious as the group visited, and it was Sudha’s soft smile that caught their attention. A desire to know more about Sudha and her family, and a call to help where and when they could, grew right there, in the middle of an Indian classroom.
This was the day Back2Back India Strong Families was born.
Back2Back Strong Families is an international initiative whose vision is that every family would have the rights, recognition, and resources it needs to thrive. It seeks to come alongside children and families by providing supplementary care to help parents care well for their children within the home. It helps families understand the irreplaceable value of a parents’ love in the life of a child, and the effects of a safe family environment.
Back2Back first joined the Strong Families movement at the Cancun site. After Back2Back India staff expressed interest in beginning this program on their campus, Erick and Julie Mowery, Cancun directors, visited the India Hope Campus and shared what worked best for them. Together, Back2Back staff shares open handedly with each other to pursue orphan prevention.
For most rural village residents near Hyderabad, agriculture is the main source of income. The lack of consistent rainfall throughout the year strains the yielding of crops, creating a lack of harvest and financial pressure on families. Children often move to the city in search of a job, hoping to assist their family. Sometimes children as young as 13-years old are at risk of becoming child laborers or being trafficked to another city. In other cases, entire family units will relocate to slum areas, where they sort through garbage for recyclable materials to be sold.
Back2Back’s Strong Families program greatly benefits young, capable children like Sudha, as well as improves the quality of life for her parents and siblings. This creates opportunity, where desperation for income once stood.
Within one month of meeting Sudha in her government school, the young girl came to spend her days on the Hope Campus. Sudha’s mother drops her off each morning for a bus ride with her fellow classmates to her English speaking school.
The government-run school Sudha formerly attended didn’t teach English, but her transition to a school taught largely in English hasn’t hindered the young girl from maintaining a high rank within her class. Along with improved educational opportunities, Sudha attends spiritual classes with the other girls her age, participates in Nurture Groups every two weeks, and meets with a child psychologist. At the end of the day, she returns to her family, stronger for the time she’s spent with Back2Back. Although she doesn’t live on campus, Sudha is being pursued spiritually, physically, educationally, socially, and emotionally. She knows she is worthy of investment.
As staff work alongside Sudha and her family through the Strong Families model, they offer employment opportunities to her father, a painter by trade. Sudha’s younger brother also is invited to attend spiritual classes on campus with the other boys. Additionally, Sudha has been able to see an optometrist in the city to help her vision.
Sudha’s experience and positive results encourage the Back2Back India team as they set their sights on working with other marginalized families. Through their partnerships with Christ for All Feeding Center and Little Tom’s School, both located in urban Hyderabad slums, they hope to keep families together while introducing them to the love of Christ.
Sudha’s sweet smile, and newly framed brown eyes, are a welcome sight at the India Hope Campus these days. Daily, she learns about her inherent worth as the daughter of the King. As Back2Back comes alongside Sudha and her family, and sets their sites on partnering with additional families, we trust the Lord is lacing strength into each story.