India back-to-school season: our students face caste discrimination; how you can help

Photo: Students in our 5th grade class last year; now being shuttled to local government school for junior high where they face several challenges.

Our orphans in India started the new school year on July 1st, but due to funding challenges, we can only provide education to our 1st-5th grade students (ages 5-12) on campus, at our own accredited elementary school, where they study their native languages of Telugu and Hindi as well as math, social studies, science, and English. We currently have 4 teachers and 1 evening tutor on staff — one teacher covers 1st & 2nd grade, and then we have one dedicated teacher each for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. Thus we are in need of new monthly donors to help us hire at least one more teacher — one teacher’s salary is just $100 per month, which is a good salary for this part of India.

The other students past 5th grade have typically been shuttled to a local government school. Sadly, because our students are of lower caste and/or “Dalit” (outside of the caste system, “untouchables”), the school we were sending them to last year has refused them this year. This happens often in India, especially outside of the larger cities. In addition to facing caste discrimination, they are also at risk due to a dire lack of safety in the transportation methods we’ve been using to get them to the off-campus school. We are happy to report that we have found a government school where the teachers and students are friendly toward lower caste and Dalit children, but we currently have no way to get them there because it is not within reasonable distance of our main campus. We are hoping to purchase a 24-seat school bus to get the students safely to this new-found “friendly” government school. The bus costs $25,000 and we have raised $8,000 toward the need thus far.

As a more permanent solution to this challenge, we are seeking $50,000 to build our own facilities and meet all the requirements to gain our accreditation for a school that will provide education for all of our orphan students on our own campus. This school expansion project will include a separate building with 6 classrooms, a library, a lab, and an office room as well as a second level for our Children’s Hope Center where we offer outreach to children in the city slums. In addition, we will need 5 more teachers for this extension of our school.


When we acquire the school bus, not only will we solve the immediate problem of getting the students of 6th grade and higher to the “friendly” government school, but we will also check off one of the bigger requirements of obtaining accreditation for our own on-campus junior high and high school: having a school bus.

Our financial target to help solve these challenges is a large one. So we are extremely grateful for those of you reading this who might be able to help us reach these urgent goals. Thankfully, all of our children studying both on and off campus have everything else they need for their studies such as school supplies and uniforms. They are very excited to get back into the classroom where their education will equip their minds with valuable knowledge to ensure a fruitful livelihood in their future.

In other news, our native team will begin preparations for our next rice harvest later this month before the planting season begins in August. We are thankful for the ability to grow our own rice at the new rice farm, a great source of sustainability since the average Indian consumes about 6.25 kgs (14 lbs) of rice monthly, or about half a pound of rice a day. The children at our Hope Center and at our orphan homes consume 7,800 KGs of rice in their diets annually, which should save us about $5,250 this year. Rice combined with lentils, another staple in the Indian diet, offers a nutritious source of complete protein, fiber, iron, and other essential minerals as well as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B6, and Pantothenic Acid. Rice is both a source of profit and health, blessing our children’s lives.

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