As we approach the Christmas season, I’m sure we can all agree that we have countless reasons to be thankful. With our families gathered together, what better time than Christmas to share these blessings with our larger, global community?
In rural communities all over India, families are experiencing a very different Christmas season than we do here. Instead of celebrating, many families are facing Christmas Day the same as they would any other day, focusing on survival by working all day in often back-breaking conditions.
Together, we can provide them with a sense of hope, showing them that change is possible. Parents will be given the opportunity to support and even learn from their children.
Once we have built a Good Shepherd School in a community, our efforts not only go into expanding capacity for grades and students, but also into developing the school building as a central community hub.
Your support also enables us to train and subsequently hire health care workers, who are based in the school. From there, they can educate the community about hygiene, health and safety. We also run training courses for women, particularly teaching sewing: a highly employable skill.
Good Shepherd Schools truly affect whole families and entire communities. People like you have been wonderful partners in this life-changing work that is happening all across India. Thank you for your continued interest and involvement during this Christmas season.
Here at Dalit Freedom Network Canada, we love stories. We especially cherish stories of transformation and newfound freedom, and we love sharing them with you!
Sometimes we come across stories that stick with us for years. This is one of those.
A few years ago, we had the honour of attending the inauguration of one of our schools in Andhra Pradesh. As our car approached, we could see a colourful tent set up in front of the school – a temporary shelter from the blazing sun. A large crowd of people had gathered already, both students and their parents.
We could hear the noise before we opened our doors; children were everywhere. As we got out of the car, the excitement in the air was palpable, and we couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces.
The children had been meeting in a rental building for five years previously and were thrilled to finally have their own building. During the inauguration, one of the fathers got up and stood at the mic with his daughter standing by his side, ready to proudly translate his words into English.
“Thank you for building this school,” he said. “Were it not for this school, I would have sold my daughter for $10.” His tone sounded matter-of-fact but we could see immense gratitude in his face. He looked at his daughter with shining eyes as he continued to speak.
I didn’t know how to give her a good future and had decided that it would be best to sell her, hoping that she would be better cared for. I am so glad she is now going to this school! Now she will have a good future.
Years after we heard this father speak—translated by the daughter he planned to sell—his story continues to impact us. Who knows how many similar stories exist and how many children have been spared from human trafficking because a school provided another option?
Geetha* graduated from our Good Shepherd School in 2013 and is currently attending a Junior College. She is studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry and aims to become an Indian Administrative Service Officer.
Thanks to her sponsor, Geetha was able to attend a Good Shepherd School until graduation, and since then has been able to take practical steps to follow her dream! When you show compassion, you change the present and you change the future.
Because of the support of generous people like you, so many children like Geetha have been saved from a lifetime of hopelessness. Instead of having to follow a path prescribed by circumstances, they’re given the tools through education to choose other options that will lead to a better life.
*Name changed for privacy.
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Dalit Freedom Network is engaged year-round, in efforts to bring education and life skills to the Dalit people in India. Please consider a gift today, and ensure that the mission keeps moving forward.Sponsor a Child
We truly believe in freedom for every child, woman and family, and I’m sure you feel the same. Stories like Simran and her mother Rajitha are perfect examples of the way we hope to see our work come to fruition all over India.
Simran was sponsored by a generous donor and started attending one of our Good Shepherd Schools a couple of years ago. She has been immensely enjoying her studies, dreams of becoming a doctor, and loves to share what she’s learned with her family, including her father, who is a rickshaw driver and her sister, who is in the 9th grade. Her mother, Rajitha, was excited to discover the school also offered vocational training for women and small business grants, and jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
Shortly after applying and receiving a grant to start her own business, Rajitha opened the school canteen! She runs the canteen during the day, while both of her daughters study in the school.
It’s a place where students can buy sweets during their recess, and anyone in the neighbourhood can stop in for chai and curry. Because of the brick making business across the street, the canteen stays busy even when students are in their classes.
Small businesses like the canteen give women the opportunity to help their families financially, and also improve their confidence and feelings of self-worth. When you sponsor a child’s education, you are ultimately giving freedom to a whole family. Please consider giving today!
Thank you for your interest and partnership in Dalit Freedom Network Canada. Because of generous support like yours, many children in India are gaining an education and finding out that they are loved. Many women are being trained to sew and enabled to take ownership of their lives, and many families are discovering new hope for the future. Please accept our deepest appreciation for your kindness.
“It’s a privilege to provide opportunity to children who have been denied what we take for granted. This gives them so much more than an education, it gives them a life.” – Rob and Joanne Inrig
This Christmas, please give generously so that Dalit families can gain an education, continue to find new hope for the future and ultimately break free from oppression.