Friends of Orissa exists to inspire, motivate, and guide Indian national Christian leaders and workers to meet the economic, educational, social, and spiritual needs of the citizens of Orissa. Community transformation is the best way to summarize the vast programming that Friends of Orissa supports on the ground in India.

Orissa is a state in eastern India on the Bay of Bengal, with a population of over 46 million people.  It is one of the poorest states in one of the poorest countries in the world.  The majority of the people live far below the United Nations poverty standards of $2.00 a day.

Orissa has a significantly large percentage of oppressed people (Dalit, Tribal, Other Backward Caste), as much as 73%.  The high illiteracy rate, lack of access to basic healthcare, abject poverty, poor educational facilities, yearly flooding, and poor availability to clean drinking water all make Orissa one of the neediest places in the world.

In 1999 a super cyclone (the strength of Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans) ravished the entire eastern coastline of Orissa and left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

Annual rainfall leads to flooding every year in half the state while the other half regularly experiences drought.  The natural and religious environment leads to conditions that are constantly testing the stability of the people of Orissa.

Community Transformation

In addition to the economic, educational, healthcare, agricultural, and water access woes, Orissa is one of the major states for religious tension in all of India. Hindus in this region believe that if you are not Hindu you are not truly Indian.  It is a matter of national and state pride. 

In 1999, Graham Staines and his two young sons were brutally murdered in Orissa.  In the past decade, numerous such heinous acts have been committed against nationals in Orissa for exercising their constitutional right to choose their faith.

In the past decade there has been an intentional push to convince the tribal and Dalit villagers to return to their “original” faith.  Given the dire socio-economic status of so many Indians in Orissa, they are easily susceptible to the pressure to “reconvert” to Hinduism or be met with heinous acts of persecution and oppression.

We want to ensure that the people of Orissa are empowered to stand by their own faith choices and not succumb to oppressive pressures in matters of freedom of conscience.

Friends of Orissa partners with Indian nationals to provide practical support to the people of Orissa as they seek help from the devastation that has overtaken their lives.  We offer educational programs that empower the nationals to embrace truth, justice, well-being, and wholeness in practical ways.  We believe in religious freedom and a person’s individual right to choose their faith.