Some charities seem to tug at your heartstrings more than others. I am embarrassed to admit that, until recently, I thought leper colonies still existed only in the Bible.
When I read that India still had at least 700 of them and that, even though leprosy is now curable, lepers are still considered outcasts in that country, I was flabbergasted. (Not a word I tend to use much!) There are, in fact, about one million cases of leprosy in India alone.
So I made a donation today to an organization called Rising Star Outreach. The charity’s main focus is to help families affected by leprosy (which I also learned today is known as Hansen’s disease, as well).
The agency was started by one woman (Becky Douglas) who wanted to make a difference. It now has four paid workers, whose salaries are paid with donations from board members, and many volunteers – 100% of all the other donations go to direct aid programs in India.
Here are some of those programs:
- Rising Star’s first children’s home and boarding school opened in 2004.
- A children’s school and hostel is being built on a 12-acre tract of former orchard land near Chennai.
- Rising Star also provides leprosy patients with their own small businesses using micro-financing. According to their website, one leprosy sufferer who’d attempted suicide by drinking pesticide recovered and later received a micro-loan to buy a cow. The man sold the cow’s milk, saved his money and eventually the single cow became a small herd. The man is now respected by people who once shunned him.
P.S. Here’s song, not from India, but from India.Arie. Enjoy!