From Nightmares to Peaceful Sleep

Kala’s Story

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Six-year-old Kala* woke up screaming nearly every night, terrified of the nightmares. Unable to sleep, shaking with fear, Kala began to dread going to bed.

But that was before she came to live at the Pratigya Shelter Home for Girls.

Kala was born a Dalit to parents who are manual scavengers. They clean sewers by hand, the only way they can earn a few rupees. Outcasts from society, her parents were desperate to earn favor with their god in hopes of improving their situation. Kala was a beautiful baby, so when villagers approached her parents about dedicating her as a jogini, they agreed.

An illegal but traditional practice in parts of India, joginis (sometimes called devadasi) are dedicated to a goddess at a very young age. In essence this is ritualized prostitution. Once the girl reaches puberty, she becomes sexually available to any man in her village.  The life of a jogini is almost unimaginable. Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant and the women have no skills with which to lead a life of dignity. Unbelievably, today it’s estimated that this form of exploitation affects at least 250,000 women in India.

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Kala seemed destined for this plight. Ostracized. Uneducated. Outcast. Exploited. But thankfully, it didn’t come to pass. A social worker from Good Shepherd’s Anti Trafficking Unit heard about Kala’s upcoming dedication and swung into action. She, along with several activists in the village (including some former joginis) pleaded with Kala’s parents to put a stop to it. They did and agreed to send Kala to a place where she would be safe.

Today, Kala lives in the Pratigya Shelter Home for Girls. Under the loving care of the house mother and her teachers at a Good Shepherd School, she has blossomed from a frightened child into a confident and engaging young woman. She still has dreams, but no more nightmares. Today her dreams include becoming a teacher, getting married and starting her own family.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Let’s breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that Kala was saved from becoming a victim. Let’s breathe a prayer for all those who are trapped in exploitation. Let’s take action to prevent this from happening again.

Give to Pratigya Shelter Home Here

Any amount you are able to give will help girls like Kala.
Thanks for taking a stand against Human Trafficking!

 *Kala’s identity has been changed for her protection. The photos are from a re-enactment of a jogini dedication ceremony. 

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!

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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!

 

Give to Scholarship Fund Now

Sponsor A Child Now