12/27/2012 05:09 EST | Updated 02/26/2013 05:12 EST

This Christmas We Were Given the Gift of a Child

Malnourished Indian children eat a meal at the Apanalaya center, an organization working for the betterment of slum children, in Mumbai,India, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. The United Nations now says its 2009 headline-grabbing announcement that 1 billion people in the world were hungry was off-target and that the number is actually more like 870 million. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

This Christmas was to have been extra special for us with the birth of our first grandchild last April. He/she would have been eight months old. I was with my son and his wife when the baby was lost to us all. I have rarely experienced such heart ache, not only to helplessly witness their pain and grief but to try to be strong for them and hide my own despair. And yet, I know that joy can be born out of loss and it took me until recently to decide how I wanted to always hold this child in our hearts.

I met Stephanie of World Vision in the fall of this year and we made an instant connection -- why, I am not really sure. I have for many years known of the good work that the organization does and Bekah and Seb already support a foster child. I asked Steph if she would do a special favour for me and she was very obliging.

We got the news last week that our World Vision foster child who's name is Ankita was born April 5, 2012! We also know that she lives with both of her parents. Her mother is unemployed and her father is a farmer. Her family is Hindu and the language they speak is Marwari. She lives in the community of Alwar in Rajasthan, India. World Vision sent us this complete profile of work that is being accomplished in her community including:


◦Children at 13 schools are studying in an improved learning environment with new desks and chairs.

◦Four para-educators have been appointed to schools where there is a shortage of teachers, reducing the number of students per teacher and strengthening the quality of education.

◦100 bicycles were distributed to children who travel more than four kilometres to school, making it possible for them to get to school safely and on time.

◦Four campaigns were held on the importance of education for girls.

Health and Nutrition

◦45 trained health volunteers are working with pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to build their knowledge of child health and nutrition.

◦Health education programs have been established in 52 villages.

◦With the help of partner organizations, we held awareness campaigns on sanitation and hygiene at 47 child care centers.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

◦25 villages now have clean water from new water reservoirs, helping reduce the spread of waterborne illness. The community has taken responsibility for cleaning and maintaining the tanks.

Agriculture and Environment

◦Much of the harvest is lost due to improper storage, contributing to food shortages. 423 families were provided with storage bins to preserve grain for lean times.

◦Farmers have formed 47 associations and are working together to improve production and profitability. We supported their efforts by supplying seeds and irrigation pipes.

◦423 farmers attended training on improved farming methods and crop diversity to increase crop yields.

Economic Development

◦583 people are earning income for their families through activities such as raising goats, running small grocery stores, and operating flour mills. A woman who opened a small grocery store told us, "World Vision has really helped us in the hour of our need. Our meager wages were not enough to sustain the family and there was no hope for the future. Now my dreams are coming true."

Community Development

◦Community members have set up 29 self-help groups and other community-based organizations to lead development efforts and help families improve their household income and living conditions.

Child and Humanitarian Protection

◦Women from the self-help groups celebrated Girl Child Day together and discussed ways to empower women and eradicate female feticide, which persists in many areas of India due to the low social status of girls and the expense of providing a dowry for daughters on their wedding day.

◦2,075 children obtained their birth certificates through our partnership with the local government and other organizations. Birth registration is a basic right of citizenship and is required to access many important services.

And so this Christmas, we have been given the gift of a child. She is a baby girl that we will never hold or hug or shower with kisses but she is precious to us in every way and we are delighted to have become pseudo Grandparents.

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