Dalit Solidarity’s first initiative seven years ago, was to provide Dalit children with the opportunity to obtain a quality secondary education. Through its Indian subsidiary, Community Care Trust, Dalit Solidarity opened St. Patrick’s Home, where seventeen extremely poor children were given a place to live and food to eat, while they attended a nearby government school.
Most of our students are the children of day laborers. Their parents work in the rice paddies and sugar cane fields for about four months each year. The annual income for a family of five in our villages is about $150. They live in mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. There is no indoor plumbing and limited electricity. Their diet is primarily rice. Only rarely do they eat vegetables, fruit or meat. Almost half of our students have lost one or more parents.
They are the first members of their families to attend secondary school; the first who can read and write more than their names.
In addition to dealing with extreme poverty, these students also face serious discrimination from a society that tells them that regardless of their efforts in the classroom or the workplace, because they are Dalits, they will never be the equal of their non-Dalit friends.
Today, Dalit Solidarity provides over 300 students a year with the opportunity to obtain a quality education through the following academic programs:
|Dalit Leadership Academy Bridge Program - a boarding program that provides qualified Dalit youths with one year of intensive training in academics, communications and leadership skills to better enable them to succeed in secondary school.|
|Scholarship Program – program that provides over 200 students with scholarships to attend the academic institution of their choice. Students range in age from elementary school children to graduate students enrolled in Indian universities.|
|Community College Program – Qualified high school graduates are provided with the opportunity to obtain training in a variety of fields including nursing, preschool education, computers, tailoring and automotive mechanics.|