We want to give a shout of thanks to Brooklyn, NY artist Erica Harris (now in India and soon to visit BSS) who created a small tsunami of energy around her city raising funds for scholarships for BSS graduates attending middle school. Erica and her fantastic friends raised nearly $8,000. Be sure to check out Erica’s fascinating global art on her website.
A special thanks to the Brooklyn Commune cafe for holding a sale of Erica’s prints raising $800, enough for one scholarship and a lot of fresh food for BSS kids. Check out their website.
and enjoy dining on fresh regionally grown food when in Brooklyn. (That’s the Brooklyn Commune gang in the photo.)
Thanks to Erica, Shannon Holman and other Brooklyn friends, Paro, Vishal, Ravi, Khusboo, Rekha, Sunita, Brijesh, and Pooja now have a one year scholarship to middle school. They were previously holding down full-time jobs, garbage collectors and recyclers on the streets of Varanasi. Now these kids are full time students in middle school and their heads are full of dreams.
It was a great privilege to return to BSS this February 2011. I first visited in April 2010 with four friends, and returned ten months later with a group of seven. What a difference a year has made to the children of Buddha’s Smile School.
The work going on at BSS truly is a transformative process. We felt fortunate to see the spectrum of change in the children. On this trip we met two little boys who were new to school, and they seemed nearly wild. Rajan explained they are like many of her student when they first arrive. These boys had had very little parenting or socialization at their home in the garbage dump. Rajan even had to change one of the boy’s names; his given name was not an appropriate name to be said aloud. We saw both Rajan and the teachers pour time, effort and love into these boys to help get them to a place where they could sit still, listen and learn.
I was so impressed with Rajan and the teacher’s patience with these two boys. Every student at BSS receives this same life changing love and attention – and for many, this is the only place they receive love.
In contrast, we met about 25 graduates of BSS who are now attending middle school. Their eyes are bright and their spirits are high. They told us they want to become doctors, policemen, businessmen and one hopes to become the president of India.
Rajan believes that education is the way out of the rigid caste system of India. Because of Rajan and BSS, hundreds of children now hope and dream for a better tomorrow in the midst of a social system that tells them they are worthless.
I eagerly look forward to our team’s visit next year to see the next steps in the journey of transformation for these precious children.
The children of BSS thank Andrea Parker and her team from Los Angeles, California: Daniel Cho, Janice Cho, Nick Penalosa, Francine Penalosa, Becky Grassl & Stacey House.
They volunteered during the month of February 2011 at Buddha’s Smile School. Along with their smiles the group brought 21 pieces of luggage with 500 pounds of vitamins, bandages and school supplies. We also thank Journey of Faith Church who provided the funds for Andrea and her team to paint four of BSS’s classrooms. Andrea and her group also taught first aid to the staff, art and crafts and songs to the children and purchased each of the 220 students a new pair of shoes and socks.
A friend of BSS based in New York sent an alphabet book made by her students, who drew scenes of their city for each letter. Ice cream trucks, Jamaica (Queens), and ‘Yes We Can’ were just some of these beautiful drawings.
Thank you for sending these! Our students are so excited to learn about new places and want to share their world with you.
I am sending the middle school photos and report and I hope you will be so surprise to see these students,they have so completely changed and looks intelligent and smart. This makes me feel proud and gives me hope of my hard work.
I really wish to make them stand and see them independent. One day they will be.
In one of the photo you can see two girls Mamta and Puja with Sukhdev, they were wearing sweater in a opposite way, Sukhdev asked them why your sweater is in opposite way they explained that it will get dirty because we have to wear same in the morning for school that is why we are wearing in wrong way. They are now much responsible.
In few photos you will see the girls are making the models of Computers. We helped them to complete them due to short time because they have to submit next day.
I would like to send the more pictures, but I hope you will all love them to see.
Now a days few boys are busy to carry road lights on Indian marriages at night time because now the marriage season is going on.
Now in this session there are 15 students to go to middles school. this is worrying matter for me…….
‘The higher-caste students tell us that we smell bad,’ one girl said. Another added: ‘The ridicule we face prevents us from coming to school and sitting with higher-caste children.’ These girls from the hamlet of Khalispur, near the city of Varanasi, belong to the Mushara or ‘rat catcher’ community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India.
Despite an entitlement to receive a stipend, midday meals and uniforms, few Mushara girls attend Khalispur’s government primary school. ‘We are forced to sit on the floor,’ one girl said. ‘The desks and benches in the classroom are meant for the children from the higher castes.’
Education systems in many of the world’s poorest countries are now experiencing the aftershock of the global economic downturn.
The 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, released on 19 January, argues that the crisis could create a lost generation of children whose life chances will have been irreparably damaged by a failure to protect their right to education.
BSS couldn’t exist without it’s many supporters from all over the world. So often, it starts with a person visiting Sarnath and meeting Rajan at BSS. And that’s exactly what happened with Geir Davidsen from Etne in Norway. He decided to help and created a fund-raising wonder by inspiring people in his community, especially the schools, to become involved.
He tirelessly visits school classes in his town and talks to the students and teachers about India, Sarnath and BSS. Obviously, he does so with a lot of heart and conviction, because it has resulted in amazing funds being raised in Etne.
Last year, they raised enough money to buy BSS a school bus and this year they will contribute half the cost of the daily meals BSS provides to its 220 students.
Geir makes sure the school children in Etne understand the huge impact their support is having on the Indian students’ lives. He will visit BSS again in March to report back on the progress being made and how his community can continue to help.
BSS sends the teachers, school children and other supporters in Etne a very big and heartfelt Thank You.