The founder of IndianChildren is Birgitta Ekman. Birgitta’s parents were missionaries in former Bihar in the 40s and 50s. She was born there and lived there until age 10. The family lived next to a small village and Birgitta and her four siblings only had Indian playmates. When they reached school age, they were sent to a Swedish boarding school in southern India during school terms.
This childhood formed Birgitta and gave her ineffaceable memories of life in the countryside and the misery in the cities, which she has also told about in a popular children’s book series.
Birgitta’s commitment to the poor and needy in India has followed her throughout her life, and in 1998 she received the fund “Birgitta Ekman’s fund for Indian Children” as a gift for her 50th birthday from friends and acquaintances. Until 2013 Birgitta led IndianChildren but gave the responsibility to her daughter in law Sara, at retirement.
When Birgitta converted to the Catholic church in March 2014 she chose to step down fully and gave IndianChildren to the church Word of Life Uppsala, as she believed that is where the work belongs.
Birgitta’s commitment to the poor and vulnerable children continues to burn strongly, and she speaks warmly of the need to help the poorest of children wherever she goes.
Birgitta lives with her husband, Ulf, in Stockholm.
In October 1998 a fund raiser was done among Birgitta Ekman’s friends and acquaintances before her 50th birthday. On the initiative of Birgitta’s sister Maj-Kristin, the collected funds became the first contribution for a fund called ”Birgitta Ekman’s fund for Indian Children,” that was presented to Birgitta on her birthday.
With the new seed capital, some specific steps were taken quite soon, such as sponsoring furniture to an orphanage in Delhi and to a girls’ home in Theodori, Jharkhand.
The work didn’t come any further as there was no person on site to identify appropriate projects to support and to lead the work. This changed when our first Swedish coworker Anna Jakobsson got the work going over the course of three years. The work began to take form according to the vision to give the poor Indian children an opportunity to grow into confident and strong individuals. Birgitta wanted to lift children out of poverty to a dignified and blessed life.
In the first mission statement Birgitta also wrote that ”IndianChildren supports development projects and emergency relief to affected areas, such as programs to improve children’s health. We also give help to girls living in danger of being abused and sexually exploited. Through Christian teaching, education and vocational training the children can grow up and mature socially, spiritually and intellectually.” This was Birgitta’s dream and so it has become. Helping the poorest children with education has always been the focus.
By being able to tell about the fund at conferences and in Christian magazines, it soon became known and donations were given to the work and we started sponsoring children. The fund was eventually changed to a fundraising foundation with its own 90-account.
Volunteers are sent out every year from the Nordic countries, and Indian coworkers have been trained on site. Today, hundreds of children receive daily support through IndianChildren. We see children’s lives totally changed for the better through good education, nutritious food and medical assistance.