Our children are the very heart of our mission. Though all come from destitute or desperate situations, they are all cared for as members of our large family and treated as the beautiful individuals that they are. As with all children worldwide, each boy and girl comes to us with their own unique dreams, passions and talents. Our job is to develop the whole person, not simply feed and clothe a needy child.
On some basic levels, our kids are given three nutritious meals each day as well as morning and afternoon tea—with the occasional snacks such as ice cream, chips and “gol guppa” (a kid favorite) added just for fun. Meals are eaten as a family in our Dining Room where children, staff and volunteers come together to give thanks for the day.
On the mission, our children live in five separate hostels, each with a staff family member that strives to make each hostel feel as much like a home as possible. As part of this effort, older children are given their own rooms, with their own beds, furniture, possessions and the like. Each hostel has a living room, generally with a TV, our older boys even have a full gym to help keep fit. Though age is not a strict rule, our kids are separated into the following hostel groups:
Why so many girls?
We get asked this question all the time. We have almost twice as many girls in our hostels as we do boys. The sad truth is that in many parts of India a strong preference for sons over daughters still exists. People realize smaller family sizes with relatively greater number of sons through the use of medical technologies and abortions. This mind-set also applies to the abandonment of children and is reflected in the male:female ratio of children in our hostels.
We work hard with local communities on an individual level to discourage female feticide and all other gender-based discrimination. To us a child is a child, each one just as precious as the next, it doesn’t matter what gender they are.
Play is a big part of what we do and we have large open areas where our children can always be found playing during their free periods. In the main building, that we call Strong House, we offer an extensive library of books that children love to read to each other or share with volunteers. We also have a computer lab that is available (with adult supervision) and a digital projector for night time movies. Beyond this, many children keep pets, especially dogs, chickens, cats and the occasional rabbit. They also enjoy maintaining their own vegetable gardens, fishing in the local river, as well as swimming in our pool during the hot summer months.
Education & Training
One critical component of our Mission is education. The future success of our children depends on it. As a result, all Mission kids attend our school, The Maxton Strong School, recognized as one of the top learning centers in the area. The main language of study is English though they also study in Hindi: the official language of India.
Though our school currently only operates up to grade 8, we make sure that all of our children are given the opportunity to complete their studies up to Grade 12 locally and then University after that. Our hope is that soon our school will receive its own registration to teach up to Grade 10 with a long-term vision to build a university campus right here on our grounds!
Our children are also given the chance to participate in trade-school type programs; receiving practical hands-on experience in the following fields: mechanics, mechanized agriculture, carpentry, plumbing, electrical repairs, sewing, home & child care and general maintenance. In addition to all of this we run a range of other programs for our children such as National Geographic PhotoCamps, Wilderness First Aid, Fire Safety Programs, PMGDISHA etc.
Our Kids Stories
From time to time we write blog posts which share some of our kids stories; obviously we can not share all the details but here are a few that give a great idea of what our kids lives were and are like: