I have just watched an inspiring BBC2 program called "India's Hospital Train" about a magic train. It was impossible not to be moved both by the realness of the people whose lives are changed and also by the sheer scale of India in human and cultural terms. It is possible to make a huge difference to people's lives at relatively low cost in the developing world, but the sheer numbers of worthy people to help is beyond ordinary comprehension. The program mentioned 20 million cataracts alone.
Of course, India is a country of a billion people. That's roughly 20 for every one in the UK. SOS Children has massive operations there (see the map, in around 40 locations where some 17,000 orphaned children actually live under our roof, in our families in our villages and we operate four (doctor-led) medical centres; in Anangpur,Bhimtal, Buj and Chennai as well as numerous nurse led social centres). That's without even counting running thirty schools and having numerous community projects to try to get extremely destitute families on to a level where they can survive as a family unit.
But part of what was gripping about the program is the frustrations in trying to help in an environment where medical staff come in for a brief time without local knowledge, where there are strikes and protests during clinics and anaesthetics get caught by transport problems. Equally it is frustrating that not everything can be a quick fix. Since 1963 SOS Children have been working in India for children with no one and struggling with the realities, but it would not be possible without people across Europe who financial support all those programs by child sponsorship or regular donations.