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

Fresh Start | Pranitha’s Story

When our team visited India in February, we had the delightful pleasure of meeting Pranitha. After sitting with her and hearing her story, we felt she embodied the hope and future of our work in India. Her story is a beautiful story of how a Dalit child goes from next to zero options in a life of poverty to becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy… simply because someone cared enough to fund her education.

 

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We could tell you Pranitha’s story. We could tell you how thankful she is for the education she received. But Pranitha herself is much better at sharing her own story and thoughts. And we are truly grateful to have been able to hear from her.

 

Pranitha’s story is not an anomaly. There are 10,000 other stories out there…

 

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

 

Fresh Start | Child Sponsorship

This month, our annual Fresh Start child sponsorship campaign begins. This year the global Dalit Freedom Network (operating in several countries and continents) has an audacious goal of seeing 5,000 children sponsored. IF we meet that goal, once the funds reach India, a donor will match dollar for dollar. That means 10,000 children could get sponsored! These children represent our 10,000 reasons campaign. Join us! 

 

Have you ever thought about what actually goes into making a child sponsorship program work in a developing nation?

 

Have you thought about what steps are involved in getting your letter across the world and into the hands of a child in rural India? What about that photo you were sent… have you ever wondered what it takes to get that photo sent to you?

Many who have sponsored children though an organization such as DFN, Compassion or World Vision have probably never thought through all of the necessary details and steps of what running a sponsorship program actually entails. I know I hadn’t until last month when a DFN team visited our child sponsorship (CS) office in India.

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Sagay, the CS director, led us to the room where the sponsorship magic happens. Well, it’s definitely not magic… it is a lot of very, very hard work. He introduced us to the CS team of 8, and walked us through each step involved in the program… from photographing each child, to collecting their personal details and school information, to matching them with a donor, to getting the donor’s letter(s) to the child, to collecting letters from the child for the donor, to wrapping up the year with a school/personal report etc. Whew! Just typing it out makes me want to take a nap. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, because brace yourself… this is all done by paper. PAPER.

 

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We saw mountains of papers representing each of the children. Many of the Good Shepherd schools are in rural areas or places without reliable internet access. So there is no e-mailing, scanning, filling out online forms and the like. Each page is filled in by hand. Usually by the teachers and school administrators who already have very full workloads.

 

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 CHILD SPONSORSHIP FAQ: 

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How does sponsorship help a child in India who is at a high risk for human trafficking?

With 40% of its 1.2 billion people under the age of 18, India has the highest population of children in the world, as well as the largest number of children in poverty. Their poverty puts them at risk for child labor, forced labor, or bonded labor and makes them especially vulnerable to being trafficked. Nearly 30% of the students at our Good Shepherd Schools have parents who are bonded laborers, a modern form of indentured servitude relatively unknown in the modern western world. In most poor villages in India education is not available, and consequently there is little hope of children ever rising above the economic hardship and the limitations of their parents. As a child sponsor, you make it possible for your child to receive an English language education and in doing so, you invest in the freedom and future of India’s most vulnerable children.

How does a child get into the sponsorship system?

Each Dalit child who enrolls in a Good Shepherd school gets put into the child sponsorship system.

What do  child sponsorship donations cover?

Your faithful donations cover tuition, uniforms, school supplies, midday meals (where necessary), textbooks, teacher salaries, and administrative costs for your child’s education. As a child sponsor, you help to provide a top-quality, English- medium, values-based education for India’s most at-risk children, and help to launch their courageous journeys toward dignity, equality, safety, and security. Not only does your sponsorship donation cover all of the education fees and costs, but it also strengthens an entire community. With education as its foundation, each Good Shepherd school becomes the central hub for all education, economic development, healthcare, and social justice initiatives in that specific community.

How long does it take to collect all the preliminary information for each child?

It can take anywhere from 3-4 months to collect the initial forms for each and every child (new children in the programs, as well as updates on current students). Teachers and school administration take the time to manually record each form for each child.

What other documents or information are collected over the year?

On any given year, the following documents are collected:

1. Intake form (for new students/sponsor children)

2. Healthcare form (information about the health status of each student as well as the family)

3. Education form (information about grades, subjects, extra curricular activities etc.)

4. End of year progress/evaluation. Each child usually writes one letter to their sponsor per year.

What does it look like to get a letter from a sponsor to their child? How long does that process usually take?

 

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Postal mail usually takes a few weeks to travel overseas and clear customs before it reaches our team in India. Since many schools are located in remote parts of India, in-country mail can take weeks to reach them. There are other factors which may at times be responsible for delays, such as heavy monsoon rains, civil unrest, or children being absent from school. Furthermore, when schools are not in session, our Indian partners will hold sponsors’ letters until the students return to class. Due to the extensive journey letters must make, a child may receive their letter a few months after it is sent. Similarly, when a child replies, his or her letter must make the long journey back to our office.

How many children does DFN USA currently collect data on for the sponsorship program?

We have a little over 6200 children in the DFN USA sponsorship program. (There are nearly 27,000  children enrolled in all, divided between DFN offices around the world. About 13,000 of them are sponsored between all the offices.)

How many of those children are currently sponsored?

We have just over 2200 of the 6200 still unsponsored in our DFN USA program.

What are the children in the Good Shepherd Schools being taught?

In each of our schools, children study a preparatory, government-approved, India-standardized curriculum, with English as the language of instruction. Without the ability to speak and write English, Dalit children will not be able to excel in Indian society. They also receive a values-based education that promotes the principles of freedom, equality, and human dignity for all. Every one of our schools provide education to children regardless of their class, creed, or faith.

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As you can see, child sponsorship is a time-intensive, but rewarding endeavor. And it is an essential foundation for reaching and changing the lives of Dalit children. I have a newfound appreciation for all those who work so hard behind the scenes to make child sponsorship a reality in the developing world.

10,000 Reasons

The global Dalit Freedom Network has been challenged to free 5,000 children in 2015. 5,000! Plus, 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