As we begin a new year full of promise and opportunities, I am praying that 2018 will be another year where many children in India are impacted—and that many more find doors of hope opened that they never knew existed.
Whenever I visit one of our Good Shepherd Schools and see the bright smiling faces of the children, I am reminded that behind those precious faces are stories that are often unknown to me. Walking through the playground, I do not know which student is the child of a temple prostitute, or which student has been working in a factory.
What I do know is that children attending our Good Shepherd Schools are experiencing hope and the transforming power of education through caring Indian teachers. Education can break the chains of injustice and inequality and open the doors of economic, social and community transformation.
My prayer for the new year is that God will allow us to bless the children of India. Thank you for joining me in prayer, sponsorship, and also for your generous financial gifts.
With great appreciation,
Blossom’s mother was the victim of human trafficking and daily abuse at the hands of men in her community. She believed it was her fate in life. When Good Shepherd staff first met Blossom, a shy preteen, they wanted to ensure she had a different future. They helped enroll her at a local Good Shepherd School, knowing that education would give her a better life.
Blossom, having never attended school previously, had huge obstacles to overcome in order to catch up to her fellow classmates. She put her whole heart into her studies, worked hard and eventually graduated top of her class. After graduating, she was pressured to marry right away, but instead she chose to go onto pre-university studies to pursue a career in medicine.
“When our Good Shepherd Staff first met Blossom, a shy preteen, they wanted to help make sure she didn’t suffer the same fate as her mother.”
Eight-year-old BJ grew up in the ‘pipe village’—the land of a former piping factory whose impoverished employees made homes out of the discarded pipes. These pipe homes lack windows or ventilation. During the summer months the pipes get so hot they become uninhabitable and during the monsoons they flood.
Most of the pipe village residents migrated from rural areas with no marketable skills or training. Because of the debilitating poverty, parents are forced to leave and work long hours. Their children are then left to roam the village alone.
BJ was one of those children until she was given the opportunity to attend the Good Shepherd School. BJ loves participating in extracurricular activities and sports. Her parents never imagined that BJ’s fate could be different from their struggle, but they rejoice in BJ’s educational success and are confident that she will have continued success in her future.
Growing up in India, my life has not been easy. I lost my mother to tuberculosis and four sisters to cholera. My grandmother raised me and taught me how to remain strong through difficult times.
Most of my family never went to school, but I was determined to get an education. At 14 years old, my family pressured me to marry, but instead I went on a hunger strike until they allowed me to continue school. When it came time to go to college, my grandmother sold all her jewelry to pay for my tuition.
“I fought to pursue my career. I believe that education saved my life.” —Hari
Despite the risks I faced as a woman travelling alone, I travelled by train for hours to attend classes and earned my Bachelor of Science degree with Honours and eventually my Masters of Science degree. I started working as a chemist in Indian Chemical Industries. Later, I completed another Masters of Science and Technology in England. Then I went on to do my Ph.D.
I fought to pursue my career. I believe that education saved my life. My husband and I now give to Dalit Freedom Network through our foundation VLN Reach to help other children receive the life-changing gift of education.
In 2018, we’re dedicated to providing additional classrooms for the NHT Good Shepherd School. Its student body has reached full capacity with 289 students from kindergarten to grade six, but with additional classrooms it will be able to enroll more students and include higher grade levels.
More children from the local community will have the opportunity to receive life-changing, quality education.
The children attending NHT school come from poor homes, most living in makeshift huts that are vulnerable to monsoons and the extreme weather conditions. The literacy rate of this region is less than 50%.
Providing these much-needed classrooms to NHT School will mean that more children have the opportunity to receive life-changing, quality education.
Please give generously to make education and freedom possible for the Dalits in India, especially women, the Dalits of the Dalits. Your contribution will deliver justice and freedom that could only be dreamed of before.