Sponsor Spotlight, Episode 1

Rachelle’s Sponsor Story

Each sponsor’s experience is unique, but Rachelle’s story is even more unusual because, unlike most sponsors, she met the first child she sponsored in person before she actually sponsored him. Rachelle is a former DFN staffer, and here’s her story:
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Rachelle with GSS students in 2015

 

“Last February, I had the remarkable opportunity of traveling to India in order to visit a few of the schools I had been working with throughout the previous year. From the very first step into the very first classroom, I was absolutely captivated. Upon our arrival we were lavished with dense, flowering neck garments and given a processional fit for royalty, where a measurable depth of petals surrounded our feet. Every student was beaming; singing songs they’d memorized and quoting their English lessons verbatim. Within a fraction of a moment, I realized two things; the enormity of my responsibility to these children and the power of education.

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Senses overwhelmed, my heart gave silent thanks as I was finally able–with my own eyes–to see the numerous donations of our partners tangibly displayed in colorful classrooms, fully equipped computer labs, and brilliant uniforms of blue and white. The translation of our day-to-day operations effectively reaching those on the ground was nothing short of inspirational. Every difficult and tedious task I had to do in the office paid such a high dividend once I stepped foot in these children’s world.

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The moment I laid eyes on him at one of the first schools I visited, I knew I had to sponsor this sweet little boy, a boy with eyes of gold and a heart full of dreams. I remember lying in my room that same evening with a combination of bittersweet emotions. Joyful I had found this particular child yet also sad because I had to part ways so quickly.

William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.”

It has rung so true and while I couldn’t remove my child from his circumstances, I could provide an education, a haven, and a place for him to simply be a child. Even though I was aware of the effectiveness of sponsorship through my role at DFN, something erupted in my heart. As I stood in the auditorium listening to the daring ambitions of a group of sixteen-year-old students, I felt tremendously responsible for the outcome of their lives. I saw the need, how could I not be a part of the answer?

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It’s been over a year since I touched Indian soil, but it always feels like yesterday. The sights, smells, and smiles linger in my thoughts with great affection. Now I have the honor of sponsoring another child (a girl, also from one of the schools I visited) and look forward to all the great things they’ll accomplish throughout their lives. Giving a child the ability to simply dream in their present establishes a foundation for amazing opportunity in their future.

What’s your sponsor story? Tell us at childsponsorship@dalitnetwork.org.

 

Interested in helping a needy child go to school?

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Two Options, Same Outcomes

A few months ago, the DFN team had a brainstorm. We thought, “What would it look like if we offered our fantastic partners more options to fund a Dalit child’s education? Traditional child sponsorship is great, but it’s probably not a fit for everyone who wants to make a difference.”

So in early 2015, we launched a brand new way to be involved: scholarships. Of course, having a different option always creates questions.

  • How does it work?
  • What is the difference between scholarshipping a child and sponsoring a child?
  • Do the funds go to the same place?
  • What are the benefits to each?
  • And probably most important … How do I know which is right for me?

To answer these questions, we have created a side-by-side comparison of sponsorships and scholarships. And here it is!

Sponsorship Vs Scholarship (5)

 

It doesn’t matter which you choose.The child receives the same education, the same curriculum, the same resources, attends the same schools, and is taught by the same teachers – it’s just that the funding is a bit different.

For some, scholarships fit your needs and resources best; for others, especially those who wish to invest in a relationship with one particular child (or children), sponsorship is the right choice.

One of the main things to keep in mind is that it takes $360 to fully fund each child’s education for one year. Compare that to the U.S. cost of $11,332 per student in public elementary and secondary schools (according to the National Center for Education Statistics for 2010-11, the latest year statistics are available.) Wow, that’s a bargain.

The other thing to note is that if you choose scholarship, more of your donation goes directly to fund the child’s education because the administrative costs are lower. Sending annual reports and managing correspondence for individual children is more labor intensive.

Even though it costs more to manage, DFN has no plans to discontinue child sponsorship because that is the right option for many of our partners.

As we wind down our annual Fresh Start campaign which ends on August 31, our hope is that you will help fund the education that can help make dreams a reality for thousands of Dalit children and their families. This is a great time to be involved because your donations are doubled at this time of year. That’s an opportunity too good to pass up.

Thanks for your partnership and for standing with the Dalits of India. You are appreciated!

 

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Sponsor A Child Now

Global Day of Parents |Celebrating sacrifice and hope.

Happy Global Day of Parents! Haven’t heard about it?

Here is the official UN statement:

The Global Day of Parents is observed on the 1st of June every year. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2012 with resolution A/RES/66/292 and honors parents throughout the world. The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.

In its resolution, the General Assembly also noted that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children and that children, for the full and harmonious development of their personality, should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

The resolution recognizes the role of parents in the rearing of children and invites Member States to celebrate the Day in full partnership with civil society, particularly involving young people and children.

We want to take this day to celebrate Dalit parents.

At DFN we exist to help and support Dalits in their quest for freedom, education, opportunity and equality in the communities where they live. We come alongside Dalit families to help provide a quality education for their children, one which they could not have afforded without help.  Dalit parents, like parents all over the globe, want the best for their children. They want their kids to have a better life than they have had. We are grateful to support these parents in their dreams for their children.

 

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The following reports from some of our schools illustrate just how much a subsidized education means to parents:

Raja is in 4th grade. His village is quite a distance from school, yet he walks there daily. His father is a farmer who makes very little money and his family struggles to provide the bare essentials. Raja’s father believes that the presence of  the Good Shepherd school will help in the overall progress of their community and claims that others with similar situations could not imagine educating their kids anywhere else. Raja has ambition to become a first class officer.

Asha is a little girl studying in the first grade of a Good Shepherd school. Her father is a farmer.  He says he is happy to see Asha speaking and reading English and especially enjoys when she sings phonics songs and reads books. He also says,  “Our GS School has brought hope in the life of poor parents to fulfill their dream to educate their own children.”

 

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Do you ever think about what sacrifices you would be willing to make for an education for a child you love?

We want to take a moment this Global Parents Day to stand with Dalit parents to honor the love, choices, and sacrifices they make every day on behalf of their children.

Please consider joining our Fresh Start 10,000 Reasons effort to support more Dalit parents in their hopes and dreams for their children’s education and lives.

 

10,000 Reasons

The global Dalit Freedom Network has been challenged to free 5,000 children in 2015. 5,000! If we do it, every dollar we raise will be matched by a donor once the funds reach India. This means 10,000 children will have the opportunity to get the education they need to change their future! Fresh Start is a significant opportunity for us to start strong.

Get Involved

 

Good Shepherd Schools | A Classroom Tour

There are 107 Good Shepherd schools scattered around the whole of India. As you can imagine, the “classroom” in a GS school can look very different from school to school, state to state, community to community. We wanted to give you a peek into a few of the different faces of GS classrooms.

Although the classrooms vary dramatically, you will notice one constant in each one: Dalit children being given a chance at a new life through education. We are so grateful to the teachers and other staff members at each and every one of our schools, who choose to show up and teach these children, whether in a s modern classroom, or a refurbished chicken coop classroom.

Will you partner with us this month to get more Dalit children into the classroom this year?

 

SLUM SCHOOLS

Slum schools are located in major cities with a large population of Dalits. They are all a little different. Some provide classes up through 5th standard, and one slum school goes through 10th standard (the equivalent of 12th grade here in the states).  In addition to their education the school provides a safe place for children and prepares them to enter public school with confidence.  In large part the number of grades/classes depends on the space available. We are always looking to expand as much as finances, staffing and space allows. We have 5 slum schools at this time.

 

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VILLAGE SCHOOLS

Village schools are the most common with just under 100 all over India. These are the schools that are started in former school buildings, or other rented facilities available in the community. One school is actually on a former chicken farm. The classrooms used to be chicken coops! These schools start out with 4 classrooms and we aim to add one classroom per year. Village schools come in all shapes and sizes.

 

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FLAGSHIP SCHOOLS

“Flagship” is a term we use internally  to describe the schools that are exemplary of what we hope to see each school become; fully constructed (with classrooms through 10th standard as well as libraries, computer labs and other extracurricular support rooms), top rated in the state, and fully funded. There are 3 of these schools at the moment.

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No matter what kind of school, what kind of classroom, these kids have a space to learn and dream about a future of freedom and hope. They are treated with dignity and respect as they should be. These classrooms are sacred spaces and we long to see more and more children have access to an education like this. Will you join us in making a difference?

 

10,000 Reasons

The global Dalit Freedom Network has been challenged to free 5,000 children in 2015. 5,000! If we do it, every dollar we raise will be matched by a donor once the funds reach India. This means 10,000 children will have the opportunity to get the education they need to change their future! Fresh Start is a significant opportunity for us to start strong.

Get Involved