As the education is the key for social transformation and powerful tool for social equality, we launched ‘Student-Sponsorship’ program in 2002. The goal is to encourage poor Dalit children to continue their schooling despite poverty of their family background. We identified students from villages and offered them scholarship to pursue their education in boarding homes or in their own schools. We informed the parents how important this program could be for the better future of their children. Initially we had more than two hundred students from twenty villages from the Elementary school to the High School level. We also offered incentives to students who were interested both in nursing, technical and vocational education. Our sponsorship program matches generous-hearted benefactors across the world with needy students, so children can pursue their education without interruption due to lack of funds. This program has benefited more than 2000 students from various villages and schools in the district of Villupuram and Cuddalore.
NEED OF SPONSORSHIP
For centuries, Dalits were deprived of their rights to education and to a dignified life under caste oppression. Currently, India has more than 280 million children between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the country’s 2011 census. UNICEF says 12% of these are child laborers who work in the most inhuman conditions just to survive. This is a prime example of how many children today are still deprived of their childhood, education, health care, and fundamental rights. Dalit Solidarity Sponsorship, matching donor to child, is something that works. It is a time-tested method of saving children, one needy child at a time.
Most of our students are 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, 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. These students face serious discrimination from a society that tells them that, no matter their efforts in classroom or workplace, they will never equal non-Dalit friends. Today, Dalit Solidarity provides more than 300 students a year with quality education through its academic programs.
Why Sponsor a Dalit Child?
By sponsoring a Dalit child, you are effectively giving him or her a life-changing opportunity – a future with real prospects away from poverty and oppression. Each child, at St. Patrick’s Academy is enrolled because their family circumstances are particularly needy. Financial sponsorship for these children is necessary as their families cannot afford to pay for their education. Each family is asked to contribute what they can afford, and this will vary year to year depending on the seasonal harvests. In this way parents retain their self-respect as they are doing all they can for their children.
Sponsoring a child is just the beginning of an amazing adventure. There are many ways to get to know your sponsored child and let them know that know that they are special. With your help, your child will have the opportunity for a healthier, fuller life. We’ll send you updates so you can see how your child is growing and developing.
How can you sponsor a child at St. Patrick’s Academy?
You can offer a wonderful childhood and change that’s child’s life forever. You can become a ray of hope for families who are struggling to keep their children in school. As many children are exploited and abused in a form of modern-day slavery, your sponsorship is the most powerful way to fight poverty. A dollar per day can change a child’s life forever. Together we can make a huge difference in breaking the cycle of poverty and save precious lives. When you sponsor a child, you give your child the promise of a bright future. For $30 per month, you can ensure that your child is educated, protected and cared in the community.