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Today in India, over 18 million children live on the streets and every five minutes, another child is added to this astounding number. Many are forced to living on the streets by necessity. For some, their father has died and they are now the sole providers for their family, while others have no family at all and have nowhere else to turn but to the dangerous and exhausting street life.

In order to survive, many work in fields or roadside restaurants for 12-15 hours a day; some of the children undertaking this rigorous work day are only five years old. Still, even others are not so lucky to get safe jobs like these; many are kidnapped and seriously maimed then thrown back on the streets to become beggars – their earnings given back to their captors. Too young and fearful to fight back, they become trapped in this hopeless cycle of violence and humiliation until they are either old and strong enough to escape or until they die. Young girls who attempt to survive in this dangerous environment are often kidnapped as well as forced into prostitution for the profit of their captors.

Another social evil occurring today is the murder and abandonment of young girls ages one to five. In India alone, more than one million girls are missing every year from the average population. This happens when fathers cannot afford to give a dowry for a daughter (which is the equivalent of 3 years wages) and so instead she is aborted or left on the streets at the mercy of strangers. However, poverty is not the only cause of this horrific trend; some high class families who can afford dowries still choose to abort their daughters because having sons is more culturally valued and helps to maintain the family lineage. Though laws have been implemented to outlaw sonograms, which can determine the sex of the baby before it is born, and therefore give the parents enough time to plan an abortion, it is nearly impossible to enforce these laws, especially in small rural towns. And so this slaughter continues, with little hope of remedy except to save those who are abandoned instead of killed.

When confronted with numbers and stories like these, it can be extremely overwhelming. Questions like: “How can we make any impact on such an astounding number of people suffering?” and: “is it even worth it to try?” arise and dissuade us from action. However, though it is true we cannot stop the vices of poverty which force them to the streets as well as the cultural devaluation of girls which leads to the death of millions, we can and are making a positive impact on the lives of individuals. Light and Life Ministries is devoted to rescuing children off the streets and giving them the essentials of life required for them to thrive such as food, shelter, clothing, education, love, and the opportunity for a redeemed life. Children who once had no hope for a better life other than surviving on a day to day basis, now have hope for a future; one they can not only dream about but actually have the means to accomplish. These children who once believed they were forgotten, worthless, and unloved now know that they have value and are deeply loved by God as his precious children.

The hope is then that these children can grow up to be world changing citizens; ones that have the drive and conviction to help others like themselves as well as the education to change society for the better. Light and Life ministries started out with only few underprivileged children, and now the number has grown to 30 and continues increasing. The vision for the future is eventually to have 500 kids and the policy of never turning a single child away if they need help.