India’s “Railway Children”
One of every five children in the world live in India, and it is believed that India will have the world’s youngest population by 2020. These are staggering numbers, but they are continuing to prove true.
In 2014, India’s population was estimated at 1.295 billion people, and according to the World Bank, 21.9% live below the poverty line. Much of this population has been labelled as the “untouchables” in India’s caste system. India is therefore home to the largest slums in the world, and many of them are located along the train tracks.
Railway children are those who have left their villages and families in search for a better life. Currently, train fare is free for children, giving them the opportunity to find work in other villages and cities. It is believed that over 120, 000 children flee to the tracks each year in search of food and money. In order to make a few dollars, children collect recyclable materials, clean the tracks of debris, or beg from passersby. Many fall victim to physical and sexual abuse, or are brought into the trafficking industry.
Organizations are working throughout India to help children leave behind a life of poverty and provide a safe place for them to live, but they also need to be introduced to God.
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Jesus welcomed all of His children into His arms, regardless of their past, income or social status, because He loved them unconditionally. Children throughout India need to know His love, and believe that they are worthy of a life greater than what society has allowed them to have.
Punia and Bishal, mother and son, relocated to the train tracks in search for work. Their testimony is powerful and life-changing as they express just how much God has impacted their lives. Punia has shared one of the most powerful statements that we have heard, and it is one that we all must remember no matter what is taking place in our lives.
“We are still poor, but because of the love of God and the love of His people, we have become rich.”