The Face of Poverty: Bikash

Poverty has many faces. If you googled ‘face of poverty’ on the internet, you will be met eye-to-eye with a swarm of wide-eyed, dust-stained faces.

But, how about painting a picture of poverty in your mind? Picture a hut no bigger than the space a toilet would take up in the bathroom of a regular-sized apartment.

A bed takes up 80% of the space and on the side, are tumblers and sacks of property the family has accumulated over the years. Papers, photos, lotion bottles, documents and any other paper-related assets of the family scrawled in one wooden bench. The kitchen is an elevated mud pile in front of the house where a few holes have been carved out where the wood goes and to hold a pot.

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The house is home to four members of a family but can only fit one. Bikash and his grandparents have an open, wall-less bedroom which is a front porch by day and a place to lay their heads on by night, with the aid of a mat and a cover. Anyone who steps in the wooden gate that surrounds their house will be taken aback by a strong scent of urine and dung – not visible but present in the atmosphere. It is something Bikash and his family have grown accustomed to after sharing their porch with cows.

One can reach Bikash’s home by walking across a rocky stone path towards the last road of the village of Uppapoda in Orissa. It is a village where a population of around 400 people engage in agricultural work during harvest season and rely on scraps during off seasons. Bikash’s mother died 21 days after his birth and his father disappeared soon after, seeking a new life for himself. Bikash was left in the care of his aged grandparents who fed him with sweet juices and lactogen powder as an infant.

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Bikash’s grandmother Pratima is now in her 50’s but looks 80 due to years of toil. She has been suffering from asthma for the past ten years and is only able to engage in minimal work while her husband needs the support of a stick to walk. Pratima is weak and sickly but has joy in her heart because someone is providing for her little Bikash’s education. Her bones are frail but her happiness is immense because he is in a place where he gets three meals a day—they could have never provided the same for him.

Now seven years old and in 2nd grade, Bikash likes playing seven stones on free evenings with his peers. He professes to like math and aims to become a doctor someday. If you visit the school cafeteria, you will find him in a corner with his shiny steel plate, sitting quietly and observing the world from a corner. He rarely smiles, but when he does, it lights up your heart, because you know that smile is one that came out of much affliction and toil.

The little man is set to change the ‘face of poverty’ to the ‘face of a future of opportunities’ all because of a kind heart of our sponsors who have lent a hand and changed a life.

If you would like to sponsor a child call (423) 910-0667 or email support@childimpact.org.

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