It’s hard to believe that the Christmas season is here once again! I hope that you and your loved ones are able to spend peaceful time together during what can be a busy holiday.
For my part, I am full of gratitude for everything we’ve been able to accomplish with your support this past year. Most recently, people like you gave generously to make our Build a School Campaign a success, enabling hundreds of Dalit students to receive an education in real classrooms.
In this special Christmas edition of our newsletter, we’ll be sharing a Wish List full of items that are needed in Dalit communities. Included are items such as playground equipment, water wells, sports equipment, feeding program supplements, and library books. You’ll be able to order your gift online, and can even give in honour of someone special – then send them a Christmas eCard to let them know!
Based on past support, I know that our donors are a special group of generous people who care deeply about the struggle of the Dalits. Thank you for your ongoing support!
Prema wants to be a teacher when she grows up. It is a simple dream, but it is more than most girls from her background can hope for. You see, Prema is a Dalit. She was born into a life of discrimination, poverty, and the constant threat of exploitation, and her parents expected her to have a life similar to their own. They didn’t foresee the change that education would bring to their family.
“Today, Prema smiles when she says what she wants to be when she grows up. Her education has given her the power to believe in herself.”
Thanks to many generous donors, a Good Shepherd School opened in their village in 2009. Prema enrolled in the school, even though her parents wanted her to get a job to help support the family. They themselves are uneducated, working as daily labourers on farms when favourable weather and harvests align. They barely make enough to provide food and shelter for their family, but can’t imagine a life that’s any different.
This would have been Prema’s life as well, if she hadn’t attended our Good Shepherd School. Now, she has a whole world of opportunities open to her. She has learned that there are more options for her future, and best of all, that she is a person of great worth.
In our Christmas Wish List this year, we outline the many ways that you can give to bring education to the Dalits. Whether you’re sponsoring a year of education, helping provide a well or supporting a feeding program, you are making it possible for children like Prema to learn important skills in a healthy, nurturing environment.
Today, Prema smiles when she says that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She knows that her dream could very possibly come true, now that she is in school. Her education has given her the power to believe in herself.
My name is Chelsea and I’ve sponsored a child through Dalit Freedom Network for a number of years. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit India with Dalit Freedom Network to see first-hand the difference that sponsorship makes for a Dalit child. I was so excited to go, and wondered if I would recognize my sponsor child, Muskan.
I did! I saw her immediately among the other children in a small dance troupe that welcomed us at the first village. The simple facts on her sponsorship papers came alive—her favourite subject: drawing; her favourite sport: an Indian style of wrestling.
“There’s a lot you can get done for the Kingdom, if you don’t need the credit.”
When I had a brief moment with her, I found out that she did indeed receive my mail. She gave me a big smile and was thrilled with the pack of stickers and pens that I handed her. But I wasn’t sure that she understood who I was—that I prayed for her every day and that my monthly donations contributed to her tuition, teacher’s salary and supplies. Just as I was feeling disappointed, I remembered my mother’s wise words: “There’s a lot you can get done for the Kingdom, if you don’t need the credit.” I immediately felt humbled—remembering that the purpose of my sponsorship was not to gain recognition—and felt blessed that I could experience seeing the joy that sponsorship and other gifts were bringing to this community. This joy and hope for the future is why I give.
From that first village, we trekked to another community that was untouched by sponsorship. There, I met a second little girl who clung to me and fought with the language barrier to try to connect with me. After watching me draw, she was eager for me to draw her portrait, and asked intently that I take her with me to Canada. My heart broke as I told her that wasn’t possible—that I could only pray she would soon be sponsored.
This Christmas, we’re excited to share our updated Wish List with you, to connect you with the greatest needs of India’s Dalit people. Please take a look! Whether you choose to support a year of education, a school feeding program or vocational training, you are bringing opportunities for freedom to Dalit communities. Children just like Prema will benefit from your gifts.
You can even give a Wish List gift in honour of a special family member or friend, then send them an eCard to wish them Merry Christmas and let them know!