December 18, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX — COVID-19 has triggered a “shadow pandemic” of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation against girls, a shocking new report reveals on International Day of the Girl Child, Oct. 11. More than ever, girls face multiple threats to their safety, including sexual predators online, sex trafficking, and forced child marriage, says the report Young Victims Remain Hidden in the Pandemic’s Shadow (http://www.gfa.org/press/girls) by mission organization Gospel for Asia (GFA World). International Day of the Girl Child is an annual awareness event.

International Day of the Girl Child Report - Covid 19 triggered a shadow pandemic of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation against girls,
GIRLS FACE ‘SHADOW PANDEMIC’ OF SEXUAL ABUSE: COVID-19 has triggered a “shadow pandemic” of sexual abuse and exploitation against girls, a new report reveals on International Day of the Girl Child, Oct. 11. The report — Young Victims Remain Hidden in the Pandemic’s Shadow (http://www.gfa.org/press/girls) — by Gospel for Asia (GFA World) gives shocking insights into child marriage and online exploitation.

In more than 130 countries — including the U.S. — it’s legal for girls to marry under the age of 18. In North Carolina and Alaska, a girl can marry at 14 if she’s pregnant. In North Carolina, a 57-year-old man applied to marry a 17-year-old girl, the report says.

Worldwide, COVID-19 is accelerating a “global crisis for girls,” with surging joblessness and poverty putting pressure on struggling parents to marry off their daughters in their mid-teens or younger, the report says.

Millions of Girls ‘Exposed to Exploitation’

Globally, national lockdowns have disrupted schooling for millions of girls, and left them exposed to exploitation and greater risk of getting pregnant.

Save the Children predicts a “dramatic surge in child marriage and adolescent pregnancy.” The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls and young women ages 15-19.

Governments around the world must do more, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) says, to protect girls from forced marriage so they can finish school and choose their own path in life when they become adults.

‘Protect Innocent Girls Now’

“If we fail to protect innocent girls now, we’ve failed an entire generation,” said Gospel for Asia (GFA World) Founder K.P. Yohannan (also known as Metropolitan Yohan).

The Dominican Republic — a Caribbean island nation — recently banned marriage under the age of 18, a move it’s hoped will protect girls there and could encourage other nations to follow.

In the U.S. and other countries, girls are increasingly victims of online sexual exploitation. A 14-year-old girl who sent a classmate a naked video of herself attempted suicide after it was posted on a porn website and viewed by other students. “Failing to stay safe online could entrap a girl in years of abuse,” the report says.

Lifeline for Girls at Risk

In developing nations, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) and other organizations sponsor thousands of girls at risk, enabling them to go to school, making sure they don’t go hungry, and mentoring them. Gospel for Asia (GFA World) says it helps girls “to show them God’s love.”

“It’s more vital than ever to provide girls with safe, nurturing environments and to bring justice and aid to those who’ve been abused,” says the report. “The pandemic will have years of consequences but, with God’s help, we can prevent it from destroying girls’ lives.”


About Gospel for Asia – now GFA World

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national missionaries 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 teaching providing 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/.

Media interested in interviews with Gospel For Asia should contact Gregg Wooding at InChrist Communications @ 972-567-7660 or gwooding@inchristcommuications.com


Learn more by reading this Special Report from GFA World on Rewriting the Tragedies of Girlhood Opening Doors for Girls Deprived of Opportunities.

Read more blogs on Human Trafficking, Social Injustice and the COVID 19 Pandemic on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about GFA World.


Source: GFA World Digital Media News Room, Girls Exposed to ‘Shadow Pandemic’ of Sexual Abuse, GFA World Says

September 17, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by KP Yohannan, issued this Special Report on the horrific realities girls face, child marriage, human trafficking, abuse & exploitation, and the restoration & redemption that God brings to their lives.

GFA World, founded by KP Yohannan, reports on the horrific realities girls face, child marriage, trafficking, & the redemption that God brings

Nearly 173 years ago, on October 16, 1847, a book authored by “Currer Bell” rolled off the presses and quickly provoked a combination of praise, revulsion and gossip.

“It is a very remarkable book,” wrote a reviewer named Elizabeth Rigby. “We have no other remembrance of one combining such genuine power with such horrid taste.”

Jane Eyre book graphic
Photo by Marissa’s Books & Gifts

Many literary critics today still consider Bell’s novel, Jane Eyre, remarkable, but perhaps not for the same reasons Rigby did. For one thing, Jane Eyre opens with a girl at the center of its action. And this girl is a dynamic and well-rounded protagonist with a depth, voice and independent spirit that were groundbreaking for the time.

As grown-up Jane narrates her story, readers journey with young Jane through girlhood. They feel what she feels as she experiences the sting of abuse, the devastation of loss, the joy of friendship and the empowerment of education. They watch how these experiences shape Jane into a young woman who faces messy adult situations with resolve and integrity.

Jane Eyre stands as one of the earliest and most prominent examples of a coming-of-age story with a female protagonist, and it is still considered by some to be one of the greatest novels ever written. Much of the strength of this story derives from the strength of its female title character, a character created by an author who had experienced girlhood herself. (“Currer Bell” was in fact a woman named Charlotte Brontё.) This novel preceded countless other popular woman-authored novels and series describing a girl’s journey to womanhood: Little Women; Anne of Green Gables; Little House on the Prairie; To Kill a Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, to name a few. These stories have captivated audiences spanning generations and nationalities.

In many developing parts of the world, girls struggle to survive. They face abuse, neglect, discrimination, trafficking and child marriage, even in the most economically stable and educated nations.

Perhaps these stories still speak to audiences today in part because they remind readers of what it means to be a girl. A girl can be imaginative and creative. A girl can overcome loss, abuse, neglect or public humiliation. A girl can learn to forgive. A girl can develop skills and abilities. A girl can think and analyze. A girl has the potential to grow into a strong woman.

A girl is a human being created in the image of God, and He is writing a nonfiction story in each girl’s life. Too often, however, girls’ dignity is robbed by other humans who do not recognize their value as human beings and God’s image-bearers. Too often, girls are treated as burdens, as sexual objects or as machines purposed solely for physical labor and child-bearing. Yet as girls learn of their value in the eyes of their Creator—and as they gain access to education, justice and financial stability—they are once again able to live as the protagonists in their own stories.

In developed areas, most girls enjoy relative stability. They go to school, eat nutritious food, enjoy hobbies, play sports and hang out with friends. But in many developing parts of the world, girls struggle to survive. Though girls in different regions may face different challenges, girls throughout the world face abuse, neglect, discrimination, trafficking and child marriage, even in the most economically stable and educated nations.

A group of three poor girls
From womb to tomb, girls in South Asia face enormous challenges in life, including abandonment, parental neglect, abuse, discrimination, under-education, child trafficking and child marriage.

A Fight for Existence

Ruth
Society’s abasement of girls yields tragic consequences. For Ruth, it led to a entire childhood marked by abuse just because she was born female. For thousands of other girls, it robs them of experiencing any life at all.

The story of Ruth, a Gospel for Asia (GFA) missionary, illustrates the first and biggest threat to girls’ lives. Throughout her childhood, Ruth was treated cruelly by her parents. They made her work long hours in their fields, they didn’t feed her enough and they rarely provided her with new clothes. One day Ruth finally got the courage to ask her parents why they mistreated her.

“You should have been a boy!” shouted her father.

Ruth had three older sisters, and her parents desperately wanted a son. They even sold a field to give an offering to a priest of their traditional religion so he would intercede for them to have a son. When Ruth, a fourth girl, was born instead, her father was furious—and he unleashed that resentment on Ruth throughout her growing-up years.

Society’s abasement of girls yields tragic consequences. For Ruth, it led to a childhood marked by abuse. For thousands of other girls, it robs them of experiencing life at all: Girls face their first threat in the womb.

Some societies view girls as a liability and a financial burden, so many families decide they don’t want a daughter. This has made sex-selective abortion a devastating problem around the world.

In India, an effort to prevent sex-selective abortions has led to a ban on using ultrasound to learn a baby’s gender, but some people find illegal ways to get an ultrasound: The number of sex-selective abortions in India appeared to be growing around the start of the 21st century. There may be numerous reasons why parents illegally abort their daughters, especially because many of the abortions happened among educated families. Perhaps some people still fear having too many girls because they expect daughters will earn less for the family and will require a dowry payment upon marriage. Perhaps others simply value boys more.

Girls face their first threat in the womb.
Since some societies view girls as a liability and a financial burden, many families decide they don’t want a daughter. This has made sex-selective abortion a devastating problem around the world.

China, the largest nation on earth in terms of population, is still recovering from decades of its “one-child policy.” High abortion rates of girls caused a skewed sex ratio, leaving too many men and too few women.

“Over 30 years, China was robbed of millions of girls as families used gender-based abortions and other methods to ensure their only child was a boy,” explains Hannah Beech in an article for The New York Times. “These boys are now men, called bare branches because a shortage of wives could mean death to their family trees. At the height of the gender imbalance in 2004, 121 boys were born in China for every 100 girls, according to Chinese population figures.”

Not only has this skewed sex ratio robbed millions of girls of life itself, but it has also threatened the girls who aren’t aborted in the womb, putting them at grave risk for abuse such as forced marriage and human trafficking.

Photo of woman helped by GFA Woman Missionary
After giving birth to two baby girls, Sukhwinder’s in-laws pressured her constantly to abort her third child, fearing it would be yet another daughter. It was only when she met a Gospel for Asia (GFA) woman missionary that she discovered the value of her life—and her daughters’ lives, in the eyes of God, and chose to preserve her pregnancy rather than end it.

Deprived of Opportunity

When a girl survives to childhood, she faces another great hurdle: gaining an education. An education greatly changes what choices she may have in the future. Without one, a girl may never learn to read or write. She may never be able to understand street signs, shop signs or business contracts. She may never get to choose her own career or spouse. She may never be able to help her children get an education themselves.

Girl students studying at GFA Bridge of Hope center
Though these girls live in the slums of South Asia, they have the privilege—unlike many other slum children—to learn through GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program, which gives them school supplies, a school uniform, daily meals and ongoing education, medical checkups and hope for a brighter future.

Many families don’t send their daughters to school for financial reasons. They can’t afford the expenses of clothing and supplies, even when they do have access to free public education. Sometimes they struggle just to put food on the table, and they deem it necessary to send some children to work to support the family. When families can’t afford to educate all their children, they may expect their daughters to sacrifice their education and help care for the home.

According to a 2018 report from Malala Fund and the World Bank, the repercussions of not educating girls are serious. When girls miss out on a quality education, they miss the opportunity to pursue careers that could financially benefit them and their families in the future. They also risk ending up in unstable marriages where they are abused or disrespected, and they risk raising daughters who remain in the same vicious cycle.

When a girl survives to childhood,
she faces another great hurdle: gaining an education.
Without one, a girl may never learn to read or write.

“Depriving girls of education, especially secondary school education, has dramatic costs for girls themselves, their families, communities and societies,” says the report. “These include greater rates of poverty, higher rates of child marriage, increased fertility rates, and reduced engagement in personal, familial and community decision making.”

The report found that girls who receive only a primary education face similar challenges to women who receive no education at all. They are just as likely to marry and have children before age 18, and upon entering the work force, they earn only 15 percent more.

When girls miss out on an education, especially due to child marriage, human trafficking or forced labor, they miss opportunities for independence and financial stability, and they risk passing on the same neglect and exploitation to subsequent generations of girls.

Girl Students participating in Bridge of Hope Center class
When girls miss out on an education, especially due to child marriage, human trafficking or forced labor, they miss opportunities for independence and financial stability, and risk perpetuating the same cycle of exploitation to subsequent generations of girls. Because of international sponsors though, these Bridge of Hope students in South Asia receive daily meals, school supplies, medical care, and an ongoing education that gives them the opportunity for a much brighter future.

Childhood Cut Short: Child Marriage

650 million child brides worldwide, including girls under age 18 who are already married, and adult women who married in childhood.Robbing girls of education has contributed to another global problem for girls: child marriage. In 2018, UNICEF reported there were 650 million child brides worldwide, including girls under age 18 who were already married and adult women who married in childhood.

In some communities, child marriage remains prevalent due to poverty and deep-rooted attitudes toward girls and women. When people fail to educate their girls, they fail to see their daughters’ potential to earn income, to build careers or to dream of accomplishments beyond serving a husband and bearing children. This narrow view often causes families to perceive their daughters as financial liabilities who must be married off so a husband can provide for them.

Child marriage subjects girls to undue physical and mental stress. It gravely endangers their health, as it often pushes girls to bear children while in their teenage years. Many child brides already suffer from malnourishment, and the added strain of childbirth threatens their lives—and the lives of the babies they bear. Malnourished or unhealthy mothers often rear malnourished or unhealthy babies. Even worse, their babies may not even survive to term.

Ridhima
Ridhima was married off at the age of 12 and became pregnant only a few months later.

Ridhima learned this by experience.

Ridhima was married off at the age of 12 and became pregnant only a few months later. Ridhima’s in-laws told her a pregnant lady should work to be healthy and forced her to perform difficult chores around the house, including heavy lifting. Whenever Ridhima rested because she didn’t feel well, they accused her of being dramatic to get out of work.

On top of the verbal abuse from her mother-in-law, Ridhima faced physical abuse from her alcoholic husband.

During Ridhima’s seventh month of pregnancy, her doctor said she needed to rest because of a complication. But Ridhima’s mother-in-law dismissed the doctor’s advice, and the continued strain on Ridhima’s health had tragic consequences: When the birth approached, the doctor had to perform a C-section to deliver the baby, but tragically, the child was dead.

Instead of comforting her, Ridhima’s in-laws blamed the young teenager for the baby’s death.

Child marriage not only robs girls of their childhood and endangers their health but also potentially limits and destabilizes their future. These girls typically don’t get to finish their education, so they lose opportunities to contribute to society and educate their own children. Then, if their husbands mistreat them, abandon them or pass away, these women may have very few ways to provide for themselves and their children, which may leave them susceptible to exploitation.

Photo of a 2019 “child marriage” in Iran
Photo of a 2019 “child marriage” in Iran that was posted on social media. The 11 year-old girl was married to her 22 year-old cousin. According to official stats, in 5.5% of Iranian marriages, the brides are under the age of 15. Photo by France24, The Observers

Corinne Redfern, a writer for The Telegraph, describes a disturbing trend in Bangladesh.

“Out of 375 sex workers surveyed on behalf of Girls Not Brides across four … brothels in Bangladesh last year, 47 percent were former child brides, trafficked into prostitution against their will,” she wrote.

Redfern interviewed several teenaged girls who had been forced into marriage when they were as young as 11 or 12. When these girls tried to escape physical and sexual abuse, they were deceived and sold to brothels. These teenagers now face more sexual and physical abuse, and see no alternative life for themselves.

“One time, when I was new, the police came by and asked me how old I was—they said they’d had a report that I was too young to be working, and that they could help me leave,” a 14-year-old girl told Redfern. “But I don’t have anywhere to go. So I said I was 18. Now when times are bad, I think to myself, ‘This is all your own fault.’”

The demand for child brides increases where gender-biased abortion leaves communities with a low ratio of men to women. Girls become a commodity to be secured. This problem is most severe in China, where bride trafficking has ensnared women and teenage girls from neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, Myanmar and North Korea. Traffickers lure women and girls with the promise of jobs, but victims find themselves forced to cohabit with Chinese men who don’t speak their language. Often these girls and women are kept locked in rooms and raped, as their new husband and his family expect them to bear children.


Give to Help Girls at Risk »

If you want to help girls at risk in South Asia, consider a one-time donation to stand in the gap for children who have been rescued from desperate situations into Bridge of Hope but still lack permanent sponsors to cover their monthly needs to remain in school.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored 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 spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Rewriting the Tragedies of Girlhood — Opening Doors for Girls Deprived of Opportunities  Part 2, Part 3

Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Read what Christian Leaders have to say about Gospel for Asia.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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January 8, 2020

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA)Discussing the tragic realities those who are widowed or orphaned face, crippled by loss, grief and fear, and the impact of the love and care Bridge of Hope centers bring.

Gnana clearly remembers the day her granddaughters moved in. The burden of caring for them became a heavy weight on her elderly frame. At age 70, how was she possibly going to provide for and look after a 3-year-old and a newborn?

Discussing the tragic realities in the lives of the widowed and orphaned, crippled by loss, grief compounded by fear, and the impact of the love and care Bridge of Hope centers bring.
Masara (left) and Serena (right) lost their father, mother, home and future security at very young ages. Bridge of Hope has enabled their grandmother to care for them physically, mentally and emotionally by providing a loving environment, school supplies, a daily meal and much more.

Less than two months earlier, the little girl’s father had finally succumbed to cancer. His death was a severe blow to their mother, who was still pregnant with her youngest. With no husband or father to provide for the poor family, fear compounded their grief.

Three-year-old Masara watched her mother mourn the death of her father. Masara’s mother prayed day and night to give birth to a son who could one day become the man of the house. Only a son would bring a glimmer of happiness to the family, she believed. But 15 days after her father’s death, Serena was born, a beautiful girl who shattered the little hope of happiness the family still had.

The family did not know how things could get any worse.

However, after giving birth to a second daughter, Masara and Serena’s mother developed jaundice. Because of the family’s poverty, they could not afford the treatment at the hospital needed to save her life. She died when her baby was just 20 days old. In 35 days, Masara and Serena lost everything.

Death of Parents Cinches Girls’ Poverty

After the death of their parents, Masara and Serena, now orphaned, went to live with Gnana, their grandmother. Gnana owned a small nut shop and worked hard to provide for her granddaughters; she even borrowed money from neighbors when she just didn’t have enough. At a time of life when she should have been cared for by her adult children, tragedy turned everything upside down.

When the girls reached school age, Gnana could not afford the textbooks, uniforms and other supplies required for the girls to attend school. Without a man in the house to provide for the girls in the future, she knew how important it was for the girls to get an education so they could later work to meet their own needs.

Grandmother Finds Hope to Raise Orphaned Granddaughters

Then, when it was least expected, a ray of hope and relief came into Gnana’s life. Spots in the local Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported Bridge of Hope program were offered to Masara and Serena. Both girls and their grandmother were elated! Gnana enrolled the girls right away. From that time on, Bridge of Hope provided all the necessary items for the girls to attend school.

The burden Gnana had carried since opening her home to her orphaned granddaughters began to dissolve. She never borrowed money from neighbors again. Hope for the future is beginning to grow in her heart. Her precious girls are thriving under the love and care of the Bridge of Hope staff, and happiness has entered their life once more.


Read how a desperate father experienced a spark of hope for his sick son while watching a film about Jesus.

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

Source: Gospel for Asia Reports, Bridge of Hope Relieves Grandmother, Orphans

Learn more about how to sponsor and help the children from families stuck in generational abject poverty who need a Bridge of Hope.

Read the 100 Million Missing Women Special Report — The Aftermath of Acute Gender Imbalance.

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July 27, 2018

Girls' Education in Asia Often Sacrificed to Fetch Clean Drinking Water - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Education for young girls in Asia is often sacrificed for family roles like fetching clean drinking water for their families.

Tens of thousands of young girls in Asia drop out of school every year. Half of them stop attending at the primary school level, and The Times of India says the number is rising. Several factors affect the likelihood of girls graduating. But the drinking water crisis remains a constant threat.

According to the United Nations, women and girls in rural Asia bear the overwhelming majority of responsibilities for finding and carrying clean drinking water. It’s not a minor chore, not like walking a few steps to a well and carrying it back inside the home. Clean, disease-free water is often miles away. Fetching safe drinking water is a necessary full-time job that comes at the expense of education, among other serious risks.

GFA’s clean water initiatives does more than give families better access to water that’s safe to drink. It gives girls the freedom to focus on life-changing education that can help them achieve their dreams of a future that is above the poverty line.

Much of Asia’s Water Has an Extreme Level of Contamination

As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the water crisis in Asia affects hundreds of millions of people. One of the primary reasons behind the contamination is a lack of sanitation facilities. The situation is improving, but it’s still a crisis.

Although World Bank statistics show that the practice of open defecation has steadily declined in the 21st Century, there are still places where half the population still has no sanitary toilets. With open defecation, surface and ground water sources take on harmful pathogens and parasites that cause illnesses and even death. Water.org says 500 of Asia’s children die every day from diarrhea that comes from contaminated water.

The problem isn’t just a lack of understanding about contamination, it’s more a lack of access to basic human needs. Water is essential for survival, and clean water is scarce. Thankfully, some Asian nations, such as India, have an educational campaign to curb open defecation and encourage people to use toilets. But when no facilities exist, there’s no other choice.

Young Girls in Asia are Expected to Fetch Clean Drinking Water for Their Families - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Young girls in Asia are expected to fetch clean drinking water for their families, often at the expense of being in school

Fetching Drinking Water is Considered Part of Domestic Life in Asia

Water for drinking, cooking and bathing must come from somewhere. In the Western world, it comes from a tap. In rural Asia, carrying water is an integral part of domesticity. It’s also a full-time job. Child labor in Asia is unlawful in most situations, but laboring for the family’s survival is different. When the family is in need of clean drinking water, education can and often does go by the wayside.

A clean source, such as a well that’s deep enough to go beneath ground water contamination, is often miles away. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day. The trip to and from a source can consume the better part of it.

Carrying Water is Difficult, Demanding Work

Under ideal circumstances, it takes an average adult about 30 minutes to walk a mile at a normal pace. Asia’s girls don’t labor under ideal circumstances.

The paths they take aren’t usually paved. Their footwear isn’t a pair of cross trainers. The containers they carry to their destination are significantly heavier on the return trip. One gallon of water weighs nearly 4 kilograms (or more than 8 pounds).

Time that might be spent on a girl’s studies is used, instead, for physical labor that helps sustain life. It’s no wonder so many of Asia’s precious girls quit school before they graduate. When clean water isn’t a given, fetching it becomes part of their everyday life.

In many parts of the world, children get up on a weekday morning, have breakfast and head out to another day at school. There’s ample water at home for brushing their teeth, for making oatmeal and to carry in a bottle with their backpack.

For some of Asia’s children, clean water isn’t there, not unless someone makes a concerted effort to provide it. Usually, girls and women share the job. The education of some of the brightest minds in the world is sacrificed, not because they don’t want to go to school. It’s because a person—especially a child—can only do so much.

GFA’s clean water initiatives strive to change that reality. A BioSand water filter gives a family a way to filter dirty water into clean water at home. One Jesus Well can provide an entire village with abundant clean water for as many as 300 families per day, for decades.

With clean, healthy and safe water available near the home, children can be children. Girls can focus on their studies as much as their male peers.

Something as simple as water can have the very literal effects of saving lives and giving children, especially girls, the hope of a better future.

For more on the global clean water crisis, go here.


Sources:

Image:

  • Four Girls Carrying Water in India, By Tom Maisey (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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November 23, 2017

Gospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas

You’re 10 years old, enjoying your happy-go-lucky days by running around with your friends and playing games. But in a few months, all that will end when you assume the mantle of being a wife to a man you only just met.

What’s the point in going to school and learning anything besides how to take care of a home and a family if your fate has already been decided?

It is estimated that one-third of girls in developing nations are married before the age of 18—and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15.

In Asha’s community, they were married as young as 10.

“In their society, girls were not given consideration,” reported a Gospel for Asia-supported field correspondent. “They were believed to be a burden upon their parents. At the age of 10, they would get them married. Parents did not want them to study more, since they are going to be in someone else’s house after their marriage.”

Asha, too, had no regard for her education. Why would she when it was common knowledge her life would end up just like every other girl’s in her village.

“I never thought about studies, that I can become a better, educated woman,” Asha said. “I thought always that I won’t get good education, that I’ll be getting married, and I will go to my in-laws’ house … as usually people do in our village. So I didn’t have any hope or any future or any value of my life.”

In Asha’s Community, Girls Were Married as Young as 10 - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
This is Asha. She escaped the fate of entering a child marriage when she enrolled in a Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope center, which taught her and her family that a girl’s life is valuable.

But then something changed. When Asha was 8 years old, she was enrolled in a local Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope center where she learned that boys and girls are equal, that girls can become great leaders in their communities. Through the love, care and teaching of the Bridge of Hope staff, Asha realized her life as a woman does have value—and she began to dream of a world beyond household chores.

Then Asha’s father took notice of his daughter’s change. He saw how Asha was improving in her studies, and he no longer thought about marrying her off. Instead, he also began to dream for his daughter. As a police officer, he worked alongside women and wondered why his own daughter couldn’t become like them.

“I used to think about my daughter that after teaching her maybe [up to] 10th or 8th grade, I will get her married and she will go to her in-laws’ house,” Asha’s father said. “But now, when I saw her improvement in her studies, my view totally changed. I was so encouraged by looking at her. … It was a great thing that through her studies, my eyes were opened.”

Asha escaped the fate of other girls in her village. Instead of becoming a wife at 10 years old—and possibly a mother soon afterward—she was given the opportunity to study and finish high school. Because of Bridge of Hope, this young girl’s future changed quite drastically.

And many other children’s futures are changing.

Girls Were Married as Young as 10 - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
These girls attend the same Bridge of Hope center as Asha. In their village, parents will often marry off their girls who are as young as 10 years old.

In a post published by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan, founder of GFA, he said, “It is one of my greatest joys to know that today, more than 82,000 precious children are enrolled in the [Bridge of Hope] program and are being loved and cared for.

“Maybe one of these days, the little ones in the children’s homes and in Bridge of Hope will grow up to become doctors, engineers or teachers. Wherever their lives may lead, my prayer is that they will grow up knowing God’s love for them and become strong, upstanding citizens, who will be able to serve and lead in their communities.”

For Asha, this prayer is becoming a reality, and we thank the Lord for that.

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May 20, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, whose heart to love and help the poor has inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to serve the deprived and downcast worldwide, issued this third part of a Special Report update on girls facing decreased opportunity and increased violence, the young victims who remain hidden in the shadow of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Mother with her son and daughter in front of an outdoor toilet gifted through GFA World donors
This mother no longer needs to worry about her young daughter as her family now has safety and dignity through the generous Christmas gift of a toilet provided through a Gospel for Asia (GFA) donor.

Fostering Safety and Education

While meeting the basic needs of girls, non-profits and communities and families must also work to value and protect girls and their education. Malala Fund is partnering with organizations and governments in several developing nations to promote digital learning, secure education funding for girls and ensure girls’ mental and physical well-being during school closures.[33]

Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund Co-Founder
Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund Co-Founder Photo by Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Instagram

“Our goal should not be a return to the way things were but instead a renewed commitment to the way the world should be, a place where every girl can learn and lead.”[34]

Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers have encouraged communities to promote girls’ education, even during the pandemic. Last October, Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers in one community held a small International Day of the Girl celebration at the local church, where regional pastors and a Women’s Fellowship leader shared about the importance of valuing girls.

“Children are a gift from God; they are His reward,” explained the Women’s Fellowship leader, referencing Psalm 127.

International Day Of The Girl Child observed in GFA World church
To mark the International Day of the Girl Child, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) held an event at a local church during the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020, to promote the importance of girls’ education, and highlight ways to value daughters, and to distribute pens and chocolate bars to those in attendance, and pray for each girl present.

One of the pastors then prayed for each girl present while the other attendees lifted their hands toward the girls in a sign of agreement with his prayer of blessing. At the end of the program, the girls each received a pen and a chocolate bar.

These may seem like small gifts, but even small ways of showing respect for girls can impact a community.

“I acknowledged the fact that a girl child is a great blessing for the family, church and in our society, who must not be considered as a burden, rather an instrument for source of blessings,” said one woman present.

“A girl child must not be shown any partiality from her parents nor put down without knowing her potential. … She must be educated well and needs to be motivated,” shared a 15-year-old girl who attended.

As churches, non-profits and governments work together to help girls reach their potential, girls will most likely have safer communities. Parents who value their daughters will probably spend more time with them, engage them in conversation more often, and help them to develop healthy relationships. In countries where technology is available, this means parents will safeguard their daughters’ online experience.

As families and communities choose to embrace and educate their daughters, girls will face a lower risk of trafficking, violence and abuse.

Group of young women / girls
Over the next three years, Malala Fund is addressing the immediate and long-term implications of the pandemic on girls’ education in five ways: 1. Keep girls learning through school closures; 2. Re-enroll girls to catch up on missed lessons; 3. Support teachers with resources and training needed to deliver a quality education; 4. Strengthen education systems against future crises; 5. Ensure girls’ physical and psychological well-being in the classrooms. Photo by Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Instagram

Fighting Injustice

A mother, daughter and child in Ethiopia, where child marriages are common.
Ethiopia – east of Addis Ababa: The Hunger Project is actively working with Her Choice to end child marriages by setting up Girls Clubs and making sanitary pads available. In this way teenage girls can attend school as much as possible. Alemtsheya was able to ask the Girls Club for help when her parents wanted to marry her at the age of 15. “My step-mother suddenly found me a man who wanted to marry me and he had a good income. My parents liked that. But I didn’t like that at all! I wanted to stay in school and learn a profession. But my parents didn’t want to listen to me.” Photo by Her Choice

While creating safe environments for girls is key, organizations and governments must also work together to end child marriage and trafficking and provide justice and care to girls who have already been victimized.

In 134 countries, child marriage (marriage where at least one partner is under age 18) can happen if a parent, judge or authority consents.[35] In the United States, several states allow for child marriage if a parent consents. North Carolina and Alaska allow a girl to be married at 14 if she is pregnant.[36] In 2002, North Carolina received a marriage application from a 57-year-old wanting to marry a 17-year-old.[37] Because of exceptions in the law, a teenage girl may be pressured or even forced into marriage by her parents or others, so advocates suggest that governments should keep the marriage age at 18—with no exceptions.[38]

Calling on governments to remove exceptions to the legal marriage age can protect girls from experiencing statutory rape and/or being forced to marry someone who may have abused them. It can help these girls grow up with a better chance of finishing school and choosing a partner when they are old enough to know what is right for them.

As churches, non-profits and governments work together to help girls reach their fullest potential, girls will most likely have safer communities. And as families within communities choose to embrace and educate their daughters, girls will face a lower risk of trafficking, violence and abuse.

The Dominican Republic reached a milestone this year in the fight against child marriage: On January 6, the nation’s president approved a bill removing any grounds for child marriage.[39] Now that marriage is prohibited for anyone under age 18 in the Dominican Republic, girls there will be less vulnerable to human trafficking and abuse.

Portrait of a girl
It is estimated that nearly 30 MILLION people are being trafficked worldwide. The average lifespan of a trafficking victim is 7-10 years, and the average age of sex trafficking victims is 13 years old. Girls are at a higher risk.

Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, organizations such as International Justice Mission, Freedom Firm and Exodus Cry have continued their work to rescue girls (and other victims) from trafficking, bring justice to traffickers and provide care to survivors.

One victory in the fight against trafficking occurred in the success of the Traffickinghub campaign, which has been shining a light on the prevalence of the abuse of women and children found on the website Pornhub.[40] The Traffickinghub campaign, along with a New York Times editorial by Nicholas Kristof, drew attention to this and eventually encouraged government leaders and businesses to investigate allegations that Pornhub was profiting from child pornography and rape.[41] Eventually, Visa, Mastercard and Discover refused to process transactions on the site, and Pornhub had to remove nearly 80 percent of its videos. Meanwhile, senators have introduced two bills in Congress to help protect women and girls from pornography being posted online without their consent; one bill makes it easy for victims to sue platforms like Pornhub, and another requires such platforms to provide proof of age and consent for the individuals appearing in videos.[42]

Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund Co-Founder
130 million girls were already out of school before the pandemic. Now 20 million more might never return. COVID-19 is creating a global girls’ education crisis. That’s why Malala Fund is working to ensure girls can keep learning during and after the crisis. Around the world, they’re funding local activists and education leaders, helping girls continue their education from home and fighting for policies that will allow them to safely return when schools reopen. Photo by Malala Fund, Facebook

A New Beginning

Portrait of a girl in darkness
COVID-19 has been making the lives of girls more difficult and dangerous. Months of poverty, neglect and violence have the potential to derail girls’ futures. For girls, a single mistake—or a single experience of abuse—can yield years of pain or injustice.

Serena, one of the women interviewed by Kristof, was 14 when a classmate asked her to send him a naked video of herself. She did, and he posted it on Pornhub without her consent. As classmates mocked her for it, she fell down a spiral of shame, suicide attempts and drug addiction.[43]

“A whole life can be changed because of one little mistake,” she told Kristof.[44]

Making mistakes is a normal part of a child’s development. But for girls, the cost of a “mistake” is often too high. Trusting someone who turns out to be untrustworthy or failing to stay safe online could entrap a girl in years of abuse and exploitation. For some girls, lacking a strong family or support system simply endangers them, apart from any decisions they have made. Girls’ risks are increasing, whether they are making “mistakes” or not.

For Alexis Martin, one mistake was trusting a man who ended up trafficking her.[45] Now, although life on parole has its hardships, she is free from trafficking and free from prison. She has been living with a mentor and working to save money, buy a car and attend college. She now goes by Kee, a shortened version of her middle name, to remind herself that she is a new person.[46]

Young girl holding a chalkboard with Education written on it
“If girls learn one thing from my life so far, I hope it’s that speaking out about the issues they care about can make a difference, no matter their age.” — Malala

For girls, a single mistake—or a single experience of abuse—can yield years of pain or injustice. COVID-19 has been making their lives more difficult and more dangerous. Months of poverty, neglect and violence have the potential to derail girls’ futures. Like Alexis, girls who have endured trauma can gain a fresh start, but they will need support, advocacy and help to break the grip of destructive forces on their lives. That’s why it’s more vital than ever to provide girls with safe, nurturing environments and to bring justice and aid to those who’ve been abused.

There is much work to be done, but organizations, communities and governments can work together to equip girls with education; protect them from trafficking, child marriage and violence; and help girls who have been exploited find restoration. The COVID-19 pandemic will have years of consequences, but with God’s help, we can prevent it from destroying girls’ lives. We can witness a new beginning.


Give to Help Girls at Risk »

If you want to support girls in South Asia and Africa, consider a one-time donation to help young victims who have been delivered from desperate situations in their lives, but are still struggling everyday. Your gift will provide for their pressing needs, while we locate permanent sponsors to cover their monthly needs to remain in school.


Read the rest of this Gospel for Asia – Transforming Communities (GFA World) Special Report: Young Victims Remain Hidden in Pandemic’s Shadow  Part 1, Part 2


About GFA World

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) 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 teaching providing 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/.


Read more blogs on GFA World, National Missionary Workers, World Missions and the COVID 19 Pandemic on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

GFA’s Statement About Coronavirus

Learn more by reading this Special Report from Gospel for Asia on the Lord’s work in 2020 through GFA and the partnerships worldwide while following Him in His work in 16 nations, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.


Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Widows & Coronavirus | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox

Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about GFA World.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

May 16, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, has been the model for numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to help the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this second part of a Special Report on Malaria – new vaccine heralds a game-changing development.

Tricking Mosquitoes With … ‘Toxic’ Beetroot Juice?

Malaria is responsible for the deaths of more than 400,000 people worldwide in 2019.In the seemingly never-ending quest to wipe out malaria—responsible in 2019 for the deaths of more than 400,000 people worldwide, roughly equivalent to wiping out the entire population of Miami, Florida—scientists are experimenting continually with new ideas to combat “the enemy” … the pesky mosquito.[17]

Perhaps one of the most unusual ideas involves “toxic” beetroot juice.

Researchers at Sweden’s Stockholm University have been preying on mosquitoes searching for their next tasty blood meal. They’ve shown that it’s possible to mimic a blood feast using beetroot juice laced with a “toxic” plant-based solution that kills mosquitoes but doesn’t harm other species, such as bees.[18]

Until the malaria vaccine usage is widespread, there are still a number of simple but highly effective solutions to combat malaria. One is mosquito bed nets. Another in process, is toxic beetroot, which kills the female carriers.
Beetroot
Beetroot is part of a simple “pink juice” mixture which mimics mosquito’s food drawing in the pest and safely dispatching of it without harming other organisms.

According to an October 2021 report in ScienceDaily, the Swedish team tested four different ingredients in a beetroot juice cocktail. All the mosquitoes feeding on the “fake blood” died within a few hours.[19]

“This mixture, [which] we call ‘pink juice,’ is a harmless … eco-friendly solution, but it is naturally toxic for female mosquitoes,” said Noushin Emami, a professor in the university’s Department of Molecular Biosciences.[20] The Stockholm researchers hope to see their “feeding trap” tested in the field and eventually used alongside other effective mosquito control measures.

“There are a number of … approaches targeting mosquitoes … but I believe that there is a lot of potential in developing very simple but highly effective solutions,” Emami said. “We used beetroot in this study to demonstrate exactly this point.”[21]

Molecular Attraction team. From left: Johan Paleovrachas, Noushin Emami, PhD, Aleksandra Gromnicka, Lech Ignatowicz, PhD.
Molecular Attraction team. From left: Johan Paleovrachas, Co-founder and Chairman, Noushin Emami, PhD, Co-founder and CSO, Aleksandra Gromnicka, Project Manager, Lech Ignatowicz, PhD, Co-founder and CEO. Photo by Molecular Attraction
Mosquito bite
People typically get malaria after being bitten by an infective female Anopheles mosquito.

Facing a Global Emergency

Despite recent breakthroughs and progress, malaria remains one of the biggest threats to children’s lives on the global stage. “Every two minutes, a child dies of malaria,” said UNICEF’s Stefan Swartling Peterson.[22] According to the agency, nearly half of the world’s population is at risk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the mosquito is the most deadly creature in the world—killing more people each year than sharks, wolves, lions, crocodiles and snakes combined.[23]

Alarming facts include the following: 8 out of 10 malaria deaths occur in only 15 countries—14 of them in Africa, plus India. Third largest killer of children under age 5, after pneumonia and diarrhea. 9 out of 10 malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Deaths of thousands of women and unborn children every year, are due to Malaria in pregancy.
Background Photo by Rod Waddington, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Quest to Become Malaria-Free

USAID malaria initiative in Uganda
USAID’s indoor residual spraying activity has protected almost 7 million Ugandans from malaria, and contributed to reducing malaria infection rates in targeted districts by 55 percent.

In a June 30, 2021 news release from the World Health Organization, it was stated that “Globally, 40 countries and territories have been granted a malaria-free certification from WHO—including, most recently, El Salvador (2021), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019), Paraguay (2018), and Uzbekistan (2018).”[25]

In June 2021—following a 70-year battle against malaria—China joined the coveted list of malaria-free countries. WHO described it as a “notable feat” for the world’s most populous nation.[26]

In the 1940s, China reported 30 million cases of malaria each year.[27] According to a CNN report, during the Vietnam War, more Chinese soldiers died from malaria than bullets in the mosquito-ridden jungles.[28] China is the first country in more than 30 years in the Western Pacific region to rid itself of the disease.[29]

Many nonprofits are on the frontlines, operating health clinics, providing medicine, and distributing lifesaving bed nets in even the most isolated places.

WHO credits China’s success in eradicating malaria to aggressive government action to wipe out mosquito breeding grounds, develop better antimalarial drugs and pioneer preventive measures. In the 1980s, China was one of the first countries to test insecticide-treated bed nets on a large scale—showing that widespread use of bed nets at night could significantly reduce mosquito bites and malaria cases.[30]

China received a malaria free certification by WHO in 2021
China has a long history of malaria, but it has now maintained zero indigenous malaria cases for four years running, down from an estimated 30 million cases and 300,000 deaths per year in the 1940s. This malaria free certification by WHO in 2021 is a significant life-saving achievement for China, showing the potential for real progress in the fight against malaria. Photo by WHO/C.McNab

The Battle On the Frontlines: Mosquito Nets

Science and facts tell part of the story. But the real-life impact of malaria is unfolding right now in the rural villages of sub-Saharan Africa, the teeming cities of Asia and the Amazon rainforests of South America.

Many global nonprofit organizations—including World Vision, Save the Children and GFA World—are on the frontlines, operating health clinics, providing medicine, and distributing lifesaving bed nets in even the most isolated places.

Dr. K.P. Yohannan, GFA Founder
Dr. K.P. Yohannan, Gospel for Asia (GFA) Founder

“Some of their communities are in such deep trouble fighting this disease, our workers were dealing with thousands of cases,” said Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founder K.P. Yohannan. In one malaria-prone area of Asia, workers climbed a mountain on foot to reach a remote, mountaintop community caught in a malaria death cycle, Yohannan said. “The people of this community, extremely isolated … didn’t know how to prevent or treat malaria.”

GFA World national missionaries traversing mountainous terrains to deliver supplies and provisions to villages in need.
Sikkim: Because of mountainous terrain in many parts of India, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) teams often hand carry critical provisions, like mosquito nets, on their backs while climbing mountains to reach the villages in need of supplies.

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) missionaries—driven by the belief that every human life is precious to God—distributed some 200 mosquito bed nets they’d carried up the mountain, as well as malaria medicine, and showed the local people how to protect themselves and halt the deadly wave.

“From the day they brought the medicine and nets, not a single person in that community died of malaria,” Yohannan said. “What does this tell us? In remote, malaria-ridden places across Asia, a mosquito net can change an entire community.”

Motherless daughters received a mosquito net from GFA World gift distribution
West Bengal 1-4-22: These four motherless sisters were very happy to receive a bed net for their family to keep them safe from mosquito bites and other insects. The oldest daughter works to make ends meet, but earns less than 100 rupees a day.

One Less Thing to Fear

Living in an area with high rates of malaria, Bahman and his wife, Salli, were terrified they’d lose their two young daughters to the disease. They knew a mosquito net—costing about $10—would be a potential lifesaver. But they were too poor to afford one.

Increasing their fear, one of their daughters had been paralyzed for three years. If she contracted malaria, would she survive?

That’s when a local Gospel for Asia (GFA) missionary realized the dilemma facing the couple and their neighbors. He took action—and 100 families, including Bahman’s, were given bed nets. “You helped us by providing a piece of mosquito net in our lives, though you never knew us before,” Bahman said. “We are touched with your love.”

GFA WOrld mosquito net distribution
West Bengal 8-17-16: Gospel for Asia (GFA World) national missionary, and helpers, and the local village head, distributed some eight hundred mosquito nets to local villagers from economically poor and underprivileged backgrounds.

Making It Personal Makes a Difference

Father from India received a life-saving mosquit net
For $10, about the cost of morning coffee, you can gift a life-saving mosquito net to an Asian parent, like this father in West Bengal, India, who earns just $3/day, and cannot afford to buy one himself. He can then safeguard his loved ones from harmful mosquito bites that carry vector-borne diseases like malaria. His family will be forever grateful to you.

For many of us born and raised in a malaria-free country, malaria is not something we worry about. It’s a “tropical disease” that’s a long way from affecting our lives. Mosquito bites are an itchy annoyance—that’s all.

This was certainly true for me—until the day I watched malaria’s deadly fever grip my African friends in Uganda. That’s when it became personal for me. They were suffering on the edge of death because they couldn’t afford a basic bed net or antimalarial tablets that cost just a few dollars—things that were readily available, and that I took for granted.

For $10, you can place a life-saving bed net into the hands of a family at risk, a family—like Bahman’s—who will be forever grateful. So far, GFA World’s national missionaries have given out more than 1.3 million mosquito nets. They’d love to hand out millions more.

China has shown us it’s possible to obliterate malaria from the world’s most populated country. And now—with an effective vaccine—the end is finally in sight around the globe. If we all work together, we can see malaria eradicated everywhere.

One shot … one bed net … one child at a time.


What can we do about mosquito-driven scourges? »

One simple way to fight mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, is to consider giving a needy family a simple Mosquito Net. For only $10, Gospel for Asia’s field partners can distribute one of these effective nets to an at-risk family in Asia and provide them with safety from insects during the day and at night.


About GFA World

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) 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 a typical year, this includes 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 teaching to provide hope and encouragement 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 the Press Room at https://gfanews.org/news.


Read the rest of this GFA World Special Report: Malaria – It’s Time to Buzz Off! New Vaccine Heralds a Game-Changing Development Part 1

Read more blogs on Christmas Gift Catalog, Malaria, Mosquito Net and GFA World Special Reports on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about how generosity can change lives. Through GFA World (Gospel for Asia) and its Christmas Gift Catalog, gifts like pigs, bicycles and sewing machines break the cycle of poverty and show Christ’s love to impoverished families in Asia. One gift can have a far-reaching impact, touching families and rippling out to transform entire communities.

Learn more how to save families from the sickening agony or death from malaria through the gift of Mosquito Nets that offer protection from the sting of an infected mosquito and help to give their owner a restful nights sleep.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Water Scarcity | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox


Read what 27 Christian Leaders are affirming about Gospel for Asia.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

May 9, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, has been the model for numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to help the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this final part of a Special Report on the world’s greatest ‘badge of shame’: Children in Crisis.

Each of their children were suffering and it was all preventable…if only they had clean water. But their nearest source was a contaminated pond and it wasn’t always possible to walk the 3-6 miles to reach safer water, so they drank what was poisoning them. One day though, everything changed.

Kids at Risk of Sexual Exploitation

For millions of children around the world, hunger, thirst and disease are just three of life’s cruel injustices. They are, however, not the vilest or the most horrific.

While an accurate number is difficult to pinpoint, it’s estimated millions of children worldwide—from the slums of Haiti to the sordid child sex industry of Bangkok, Thailand—are victims of sexual exploitation and prostitution.

Millions of kids around the globe are at risk of sexual exploitation
These three children are safe for now in a loving family in the state of Haryana, India, but millions of other kids around the globe ages 10-17 are at risk of sexual exploitation or enforced prostitution.

A report on child trafficking by UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, says:

“Sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation. These attitudes make children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Myths, such as the belief that HIV/AIDS can be cured through sex with a virgin, technological advances such as the internet [that] has facilitated child pornography, and sex tourism targeting children, all add to their vulnerability.”[32]

UNICEF’s report highlights the following highly disturbing facts:

  • Surveys indicate that 30-35 percent of all sex workers in the Mekong sub-region of Southeast Asia are ages 12-17.
  • Mexico’s social service agency reports more than 16,000 children engage in prostitution, with most of them active in tourist destinations.
  • In Lithuania, 20-50 percent of prostitutes are believed to be children, some as young as 11. Kids from orphanages and children’s homes are especially at-risk, and 10-12 year-olds have been used to make pornographic movies.

“Prostitution is legal in some parts of Asia so the chances of girls being victimized are drastically increased,” said GFA World’s Yohannan. “Many of the poorest families are manipulated into selling their daughters to opportunists who promise a better life for them. But many of these girls are never heard from or seen again. It’s a fate worse than death.”[33]

National Geographic tells the harrowing story of “S” in Asia (name withheld) who left home at the age of 12 with a family acquaintance who promised to find her a job in the city. She was sold to a brothel where she was kept as a sex slave for two years before the police freed her and sent her to a shelter. Six months later, “S” met a woman who promised to take her back home to her family—but sold her to another brothel instead.[34]

A vulnerable young girl
The young and unprotected are easy targets for those who would carry out unspeakable atrocities against them.

The shameful catalog of sexual abuse against unprotected girls is a global disgrace.[35]

According to the Korea Future Initiative (KFI), North Korean girls who escape across the border to China are forced to stay “invisible” and often end up in brothels and the cybersex trade. “Girls as young as 9 are forced to perform graphic sex acts and are sexually assaulted in front of webcams, which are live-streamed to a paying global audience,” says KFI.[36]

In Haiti, many young girls enter into “survival prostitution” because they have no other way to feed themselves.

A church leader in Haiti explained to me: “Let’s say that a girl does not eat for a day. She’s hungry but she will survive. However, the next day, she has nothing to eat. Now, she has gone two days without food. A married man asks her, ‘Can I take you to a restaurant?’ She will not say ‘no.’ The next day, he offers to buy her clothes… a nice dress. Do you think she will say ‘no’? Before long, she is his mistress. She has become dependent on him for food and clothing. This happens all the time in Haiti.

1 in 5 children worldwide is married, according to a startling 2020 report by CBS News.“Many girls practice prostitution in our cities and even in our churches. Their parents encourage them because they are desperate for food, so they encourage their 15-year-old daughters to have sex to bring in money. It’s a desperation trade: ‘You help me, and I will have sex with you.’”

In Haiti, these child sex workers are known as “Degaje.“ In the local Creole language, the term refers to sex workers in survival mode. Their families are known as “Brase,” also a reference to being in a state of survival. Hence, Haitians talk about “Degaje” from “Brase” families.

In nations around the globe, poverty also leads to child marriages, with men frequently marrying girls under the age of 13. According to a report by Gospel for Asia (GFA World), there are as many as 650 million “child brides” in the world today, including adult women who married in childhood.[37]In 2020, a startling report by CBS News stated that one in every five children in the world is married.[38]

“Globally, millions of girls—a number so vast as to defy comprehension—are trapped in a web of exploitation,” said Yohannan. “Girls living in areas of political instability, conflict, or oppression are especially vulnerable to forced marriage and sex slavery.”

In 2014, the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists grabbed the news headlines, but globally the ongoing, rampant abuse of girls continues largely under the radar:

  • In Bangladesh, a survey of 375 sex workers revealed nearly half of them were child brides, married as young as 11, and trafficked into prostitution.
  • In China, sex-selective abortions resulted in a national shortage of women, fueling demand for child brides and sex workers.[39]
  • In the U.S., more than 200,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2015. Most were girls and more than 80 percent were married to an adult, CBS News reported.[40]
Girls trying to survive in the slums
Maharashtra, India – February 2018: Life is anything but simple for these girls who live in one of the many slums in their state. Survival here is often dependent on scavenging and selling what you can.
Children with their mother collects stones to help earn a little money for their family
West Bengal, India – August 2020: COVID cost their father his job which made his drinking problem worse. Their mother was forced to Delhi to earn money, leaving these three siblings alone and abandoned. Without alternatives, these children at risk of starvation, had to visit the river each day to break up stones to sell to somehow get something to eat.
Little girl selling vegetables in the weekly market
Maghalaya, India – October 2021: This little girl runs her family’s stall to sell various items in the weekly market. Like her, many children have to work to help their family make ends meet. But the practice can hinder a child’s education, especially if they drop out of the school for ongoing work at home.

Children at Risk of Slavery

In addition to trafficking for sex and forced marriage, children worldwide are also highly vulnerable to labor exploitation and modern-day slavery.

Millions of children in Asia, like this young boy, are involved in child labor
Millions of children in Asia are involved in child labor. Some children are forced into it, while others have to drop out of school so they can work to help their struggling families.

Around the world, 152 million children as young as five are engaged in some form of child labor. More than 4 million children work in factories, sweatshops, brick-making kilns, hazardous mining operations, rice fields, domestic servitude and other exploitive, forced labor.[41]

In Southeast Asia, 13-year-old Min Min searches for precious stones at a quarry. In 2020, at least 160 people were killed by a mudslide at a jade mine in the region where he lives. “We risk our lives for these stones,” Min Min said. “A man died last night … I saw it with my own eyes.”[42]

Because of the dire economic situation in Haiti, many young children are turned out of their homes by parents who can’t afford to feed them. Often, these children—some younger than 10 years old—enter into domestic servitude, a form of child slavery, with another family.

Facing neglect and physical abuse, these children are known as “rest avek,” translated “stay with,” and are treated essentially as slaves, expected to rise early each day to do the most menial chores.

Real-life Cinderellas

These real-life Cinderellas don’t have the opportunity to attend school, so they have virtually no chance of escaping their situation.

Bhil boy works in the brick making factory alongside other adults and children.
Bhil boy works in the brick making factory alongside other adults and children.

“Haitians dream of escape,” one Haitian man in the capital Port-au-Prince told me. “If you look at Haitian paintings, many of them depict the ocean. The ocean represents escape… liberty. For Haitians, the outside world is paradise; Haiti is hell.”

But for Haiti’s “rest avek” children and millions more trapped in exploitive labor around the world, there is no escape.

In Asia, nine-year-old Lakshmi worked in a factory as a cigarette roller. But it’s her 10-year-old sister she’s most worried about.

“Every morning at 7 a.m. she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at 9 p.m. she comes home,” Lakshmi said. “He treats her badly. He hits her if he thinks she’s working slowly, or, if she talks to the other children, he yells at her. He comes looking for her if she’s sick and can’t go to work.”

“I don’t care about school or playing. I don’t care about any of that. All I want is to bring my sister home. For 600 rupees [about $8] I can bring her homethat is our only chance to get her back. We don’t have 600 rupees … we will never have 600 rupees.”[43]

A better life seems like a far-fetched dream to children like Lakshmi and her sister in Asia. At the root of their despair is grinding poverty.

But there is hope.

More than 138,000 children received food, medical care, and an education since GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program began in 2004.GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program opens the door to a life of opportunity for thousands of children whose lives teeter on the brink of hopelessness, exploitation and suffering. Through its community development approach, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) shows children, their families and their communities the love of Christ by meeting practical needs.

Working with community leaders, solutions like basic health care, food, clean water and educational and community service opportunities help break the cycle of generational poverty.

In the next decade, Yohannan says, he wants to see 500,000 at-risk children in some of the world’s most desperate places enrolled in the program—and his organization invites people to sponsor a child, or more than one child, to help set them free from the curse of poverty and its childhood-ravaging effects.

Children at risk living on the street in Asia
God loves each child at risk, each kid in crisis, living on the street in Asia and Africa. He sees their needs and will not ignore their cries for help. Nor will we. Through GFA World’s child sponsorship program, and your support, children are getting their needs met, while finding out that God cares for them.

Redeeming Children in Crisis

Impoverished children from Karnataka, India
Two young impoverished children in Karnataka, India convey the wonderful beauty found in every child, no matter their station in life.

Our world bears a great “badge of shame” for its appalling neglect of and cruel injustice toward children in every nation, on every continent. But there’s an opportunity for redemption—and each of us can do our part.

In Kampala’s Kisenyi slum, one lonely street boy about 10 years old caught my attention as he sat in the dirt, wearing only torn rags. His leg was badly injured, split open, and flies had gathered on the gaping wound. He was inhaling fuel from a plastic bottle to dull the pain. As I crouched beside him, he told me he’d been run over by a car. The driver hadn’t bothered to stop. Maybe God put me on this earth for this very moment? It was, perhaps, the first time someone had actually cared about this boy, the first time he’d experienced God’s love through another human being. It was an honor to clean and bandage his wound. At that moment, God broke my heart for the suffering children of this world. But He did more than that—He showed me that every child reveals His beauty, even when they’re dressed in filthy rags and lying in the gutter.

As Mother Teresa is quoted as saying:

Mother Teresa holding a child
Mother Teresa

Photo by Wikimedia

The child is the beauty of God present in the world, that greatest gift to a family.[44]


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

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) 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 teaching providing 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.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Children in Crisis — World’s Greatest ‘Badge of Shame’  Part 1, Part 2

Read more blogs on Human Trafficking, Child LaborAbandoned Children and GFA World on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about the GFA World Bridge of Hope program and how you can make an incredible difference in the lives of children, bringing hope to their lives and their families, transforming communities.

Learn how to provide a chance for children without sponsors. When you give to help unsponsored children, you help supplement the lack of resources when children in Asia don’t have the sponsors they need to stay in a Bridge of Hope center.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Poverty Solution – Farm Animals | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox


Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about Gospel for Asia.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

May 4, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. 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.

Street children resting outdoors exposed to danger and hunger
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 U.N.[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) 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 amid total loss of income and with no safety net to fall back on. “The situation in our village is terrible,” one parent told Gospel for Asia (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 U.S., where more than 11 million children live in “food insecure” homes and don’t have enough to eat, according to the U.S. Government.[22] A staggering 18 million children in the U.S. could go hungry in 2021 because of the pandemic’s economic impact, according to the No Kid Hungry campaign.[23] In the U.K., 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 boy 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 illnesses.

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 U.N. 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 Gospel for Asia (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. K.P. Yohannan, GFA Founder
Dr. K.P. Yohannan, GFA Founder

“We offer clean, life-giving water to all people,” says Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founder, K.P. 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

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) 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 teaching providing 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.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Children in Crisis — World’s Greatest ‘Badge of Shame’  Part 1, Part 3

Read more blogs on Human Trafficking, Child LaborAbandoned Children and GFA World on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about the GFA World Bridge of Hope program and how you can make an incredible difference in the lives of children, bringing hope to their lives and their families, transforming communities.

Learn how to provide a chance for children without sponsors. When you give to help unsponsored children, you help supplement the lack of resources when children in Asia don’t have the sponsors they need to stay in a Bridge of Hope center.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Poverty Solution – Farm Animals | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox


Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about Gospel for Asia.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

May 2, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, whose heart to love and help the poor has inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to serve the deprived and downcast worldwide, issued this first part of a Special Report on the world’s greatest ‘badge of shame’: Children in Crisis.

Children are in crisis right on our doorstep, in our own neighborhoods, wherever we live in the world. And the problem is growing worse.

A shocking U.S. Border Patrol video showed human smugglers dropping two unaccompanied children—sisters ages 3 and 5 from Ecuador—over a 14-foot section of the border fence in the New Mexico desert.[1] The smugglers ran off, leaving the young girls alone and stranded.

Migrant children and their desperate parents enter the U.S. illegally
Migrant children and their desperate parents enter the U.S. illegally on June 15, 2019 by crossing the Rio Grande in rubber boats near Los Ebanos, Texas. Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Flickr

Another young mother from Central America thought she was on the cusp of giving her 9-year-old daughter a better life in the United States. They’d traveled a long, perilous journey and had just one more hurdle to cross: the Rio Grande River separating Mexico from Texas. Tragically, it was a step too far. The little girl apparently drowned before reaching the other side, NBC News reported.[2]

Desperate to escape extreme poverty and surging gang violence in their native countries, thousands of migrant children from Latin America continue to flock to the U.S. southern border, with or without their parents. The journey is fraught with dangers that include becoming prey for human traffickers and ruthless drug cartels en route.[3] Every day in Spring 2021, U.S. border officials were detaining more than 600 unaccompanied migrant children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, with many children risking their lives to do so.[4] According to a CNN report in April 2021, there were more than 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children in the custody of U.S. officials at that time.[5]

The plight and peril of migrant children seeking refuge in the U.S. is a stark reminder that “children in crisis” are not restricted to far-away countries.

Children are in crisis right on our doorstep, in our own neighborhoods, wherever we live in the world. And the problem is growing worse. Until we take steps to protect and prioritize children, their neglect will be a shameful legacy for the nations of our world.
SANTA TERESA, N.M. – U.S. Border Patrol Agents responded to a potentially life-threatening situation involving two female tender-aged toddlers mistreated and abandoned by human smugglers just west of Mt. Cristo Rey. Camera technology observed a smuggler dropping two young kids from the top of the 14-foot-high border barrier, and then immediately fleeing the area after abandoning the helpless little girls on the north side of the international boundary line around March 30, 2021. Video by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs – Visual Communications Division, dvidshub.net

The sight is too much to bear for many Western visitors: A frantic teenage mother, with a newborn strapped to her back, looking for a handout to feed herself and keep her tiny baby alive.

1.2 billion children worldwide are considered “at risk,” vulnerable to a host of calamities, abuse, hunger and diseases.But this real-life scene often isn’t what it appears to be. The baby is not hers. She has actually rented the newborn from its mother or guardian so that her pleas for help solicit greater sympathy from passersby.

Renting out “babies-to-beg” is a common practice in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, where hundreds of children and teenagers from outlying areas—some with parents, many without—descend on the city in the hopes of scraping together money for food. Every day the ritual is the same: hustle, beg, scavenge or steal to survive.

If she’s fortunate, this desperate teenage girl, who is extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation and prostitution, will solicit enough sympathy to purchase a Rolex. Not the luxury wristwatch Rolex you and I might think of, but an egg-filled chapatti, similar to a burrito, that’s served on nearly every street corner.

Her plight and the fate of the baby she carries on her back are intertwined. Both face a life—likely a very brief life—of perpetual struggle. Both face the threat of abandonment and exploitation. Both girls are continually at risk.

That so many of the world’s children in crisis live without compassionate considerations or safeguards from harm is tantamount to being one the world’s greatest “badges of shame.”

They’re among the estimated 1.2 billion children worldwide who are considered “at risk,” vulnerable to a host of calamities, abuse, hunger and diseases—a toxic combination driven largely by poverty and supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]

2021 Global Childhood Report
The 2021 Save the Children Global Childhood Report highlights the toughest places on Earth to be a child, and examines the many factors that rob children of their childhoods and reveals where greater investments are needed to save children from poverty, discrimination and neglect. Photo by Save the Children

According to Save the Children, more than half the world’s children are at risk of poverty, conflict and discrimination against girls.[7] A report by the international charity states that one billion children live in poverty, 240 million live in areas impacted by conflict, and 575 million girls live in countries where discrimination against women and girls is common.

According to Save the Children, Singapore and Slovenia are the best places to be a child, where childhood is most protected.[8] In contrast, Save the Children’s latest Global Childhood Report for 2021, “The Toughest Places To Be A Child,” lists 10 sub-Saharan African nations as the worst places to be a child, “where childhood is most threatened.”[9]

Perhaps surprisingly to some of our readers, the United States is ranked 43rd on the list, behind Russia, Lebanon and Belarus. According to Save the Children’s report, “The United States badly trails many other advanced countries in helping children reach their full potential.” Nonetheless, it ranks among the top 47 countries in the world where relatively few children miss out on their childhoods. The report states, “Countries with similar scores include Bahrain, China, Montenegro, Qatar, Russia, and Slovakia.”[10]

Save the Children says millions of children are being “robbed of the childhoods they deserve.” The agency states that every child has a right to childhood free from fear, safe from violence, protected from abuse and exploitation.

The concept of childhood is defined in the (U.N.) Convention on the Rights of the Child. It represents a shared vision of childhood: healthy children in school and at play, growing strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults, gradually taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.[11]

But, the report acknowledges, “This ideal contrasts starkly with the childhood many experience.”[12]

Poor children in Asia walking along the street
These children, just like almost every child in their Haryana slum, set out early each morning in search of garbage in their area. They go around looking for empty plastic bottles, cans, metal, and the like which they then can sell to make a little money to help their families.

Fatherless Kids in Crisis: The ‘Epidemic’ of the Street Children

Around the world, one of the most critical issues affecting children is the surge in the number of kids living on the streets, with no one to protect them or care for them.

Child abandonment is a worldwide crisis. Globally, the “epidemic” of absent fathers, especially, is a major cause of child neglect, often leaving children without a male role model, protector and provider.[13]

Combined with the tribal practice of having multiple wives or concubines, it’s not unusual in some African countries for one man to produce upwards of 30 children.[14] Many of these children grow up never having any relationship with their father, or even knowing who their father is.

An abandoned child in the slums of Kamapala, Uganda
An abandoned child sits alone and neglected next to open sewage in the slums of Kamapala, Uganda in July 2007. Photo by SuSanA Secretariat, Flickr

A report published in 2020 by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect revealed that child neglect and sexual violence were the biggest issues facing kids growing up in Uganda, one of the lowest-ranking countries.[15] In 2015, a study of street children in the capital city of Kampala revealed that most kids, the large majority being boys, began their life on the streets between the ages of 5 and 10. Seven out of every 10 street kids had come to Kampala by public taxi or bus. They came for a myriad of reasons. Some came to find work and advance their prospects; others were orphans or victims of abuse or neglect who’d fled horrible home environments; and then there were the rebels and runaways. Almost two-thirds of the kids had lived on the streets for at least a year, and many of them had been on the streets for four years or more. More than half of the children reported they’d been physically abused on the streets, and one in every four said they’d suffered sexual abuse.

Many street boys have nothing more than torn rags or sackcloth to wear as clothes and no shoes on their feet, leaving them vulnerable to puncture wounds that quickly become infected, causing their feet to swell grotesquely. Many of them carry a constant companion tucked inside their ragged clothing—a plastic bottle containing fuel, dipped in a filthy piece of cloth. Every few minutes, they inhale the fumes from the bottle, their eyes floating upwards as the cheap “drug” takes effect. It’s the only way they know to dull their senses and take away the pain and suffering in their lives.

Young boy from Africa collecting garbage to help earn some money for his family
Young Kandwanaho (not pictured) fights for survival by working excruciatingly long hours searching for cardboard to sell. Sometimes he has nothing to show for it at the end of the day and, if so, goes hungry. But even on the days when he makes enough to eat, Kandwanaho still has to join the thousands of other children searching the streets of Kampala for somewhere safe to wait out the night.

I once met a boy named Kandwanaho who told me how he searches the alleys of Kampala from daybreak until dusk, collecting discarded cardboard boxes. He visits the alleyways behind the local market stalls and shops, picking up boxes that once held soap, sodas or other goods. Sometimes, he’ll “strike gold” and find a giant TV box. When he’s gathered several boxes, he takes them to the sprawling downtown marketplace, known as Owino Market, and sells the cardboard to the shoe salesmen. They cut the cardboard into sole-size pieces and slide the card into the footwear to help the shoes keep their shape. If Kandwanaho works a 12-hour shift, he makes just over one dollar.

There are times he roams the streets alone all day—dodging taxis, stubbing his bare toes on the cracked roads, inhaling exhaust fumes, hoarse from thirst—and does not find a single box to recycle. On those days, he has nothing to eat unless he dives into the garbage piles to search for a scrap of anything edible among the competing stray dogs and cockroaches.

For Kandwanaho, and many like him, the most troubling time is nightfall as the city’s hectic rhythm subsides. It’s as if everyone is returning home, except for the kids who live on the streets. They have nobody, and nowhere to call home. The dimming light is their cue to find a place in a drainage ditch or empty shack for the night. It’s their hour to poke around the trash piles for any bits of food ditched at the end of the day. As the light fades, their reality mirrors the approaching darkness.

In Uganda, because street boys are viewed by many business owners as thieves and troublemakers, they’re chased off, beaten up and, in extreme cases, even murdered. The reality that human life is cheap and expendable on Kampala’s volatile streets is clearly evident.

As the lowest of the low, street kids are most often the “whipping boys” when anything goes wrong. Kandwanaho told me that a group of his friends were once caught stealing copper pipes they intended to sell. They were kicked in the head, beaten unconscious, soaked in gasoline and set alight, Kandwanaho recalled tearfully. At their burial in a paupers’ graveyard, he and other street boys were the only mourners present.


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 teaching providing 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.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Children in Crisis — World’s Greatest ‘Badge of Shame’  Part 2, Part 3

Read more blogs on Human Trafficking, Child Labor, Abandoned Children and GFA World on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about the GFA World Bridge of Hope program and how you can make an incredible difference in the lives of children, bringing hope to their lives and their families, transforming communities.

Learn how to provide a chance for children without sponsors. When you give to help unsponsored children, you help supplement the lack of resources when children in Asia don’t have the sponsors they need to stay in a Bridge of Hope center.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Poverty Solution – Farm Animals | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

Notable News about Gospel for Asia: FoxNews, ChristianPost, NYPost, MissionsBox


Read what 25 Christian Leaders are affirming about Gospel for Asia.

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.


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