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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/2/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Indian girl contends with starvation, poverty - all to survive another day

Kianna awakes from her bed of cardboard and filthy quilts. Its morning in the New Delhi slum she shares with her mother, Ayana and her two brothers. It's been a long time since she's seen her father, who says he went to look for work in rice paddies in the country. She doesn't expect to see him ever again, as she struggles to make it through another day.

Girls like Kianna in India support their families by begging.

Girls like Kianna in India support their families by begging.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/2/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Poverty, India, starvation, panhandling, disease


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Draping her sari around her malnourished shoulders, she puts on her only pair of shoes. Kianna is grateful for what she has. Many children her age - 11 years, going on 12, have it far worse where she lives. At least she has her family. Many of the other children she meets are orphans, who have slipped through the cracks to live on the streets. She has friends who also live with their family, but they must live 12 people to two rooms. Right now, she lives with her mom and two brothers.

Her mother Ayana was working in a textile plant until she contracted a respiratory disease from all the dyes that were being used to color fabric. Her mom was able to keep her job as long as possible, until the fumes got to her one day and her job on the assembly line was greedily snatched up by a younger worker. Her mother's bosses were callous to the idea that she had a family to support with the departure of her husband. But such are the dire economic circumstances in this place .

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Kianna hears her mother, wracked with coughs, as she prepares to go out on the streets begging. School is out of question for her. As Kianna's brothers are far too young - six and eight years old, the task of breadwinner has been handed to her. She must contend with many other children, just like her, as she begs for coins outside the city's markets.

As much as she hates to admit it, Kianna has had to resort to stealing in order to provide for her family. She's stolen such necessities such as milk and bread from the various carts and trucks outside market stalls. She justifies what she does by saying that she has to think of her brothers and mothers, and always makes sure that there is enough for them on the occasions she is forced to steal.

Today, as she heads to market, she must work alongside other boys and girls in similar straits. Kianna hopes that the day will be an easy one. There have been businessman in automobiles making visits to the marketplace, and if she tries hard and looks very desperate, these businessmen will press coins into her trembling hands. One time, one such man gave her paper money, to which she spent on bread, rice and milk - as well as a forbidden piece of candy to reward her own efforts.

Kianna knows that she has her work cut out for her. She's in competition with many other children, some of who look far more pathetic than she. She's grateful that her family hasn't chopped off her hand or removed a limb in order to garner more sympathy.

The rumble in her belly tells her that it's time to go - try to make some money for food, to live another day - in order to live another day. Where will it end?

You can make a difference in this girl's life -- by going here.

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