Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your Mark on The World Excerpt

  Your Mark On The World ; Devin D. Thorpe

Chapter 29
The Poorest of the Poor

In India, Mother Teresa’s adopted home and the place where she labored among the poorest of the poor, countless people still devote their lives to ending the poverty and disease-driven suffering that continues to afflict that land.
The Smiths (see Chapter 1) were among the first to tell me about a special place near Chennai where Rising Star Outreach has a three-legged approach to reducing the misery in the leper colonies of the state of Tamil Nadu: education, medical care, and micro grants.
David Ostler, along with his wife Rachelle, the unpaid, in-country director at Rising Star took early retirement from United Health Group, where he had most recently served as the head of a division generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. At age 54, he was at the peak of his career and opportunity for the Dartmouth-educated executive was unlimited.
David notes that he’s had the opportunity to travel much of the world on business and wanted to take the chance to do something international while he and his wife had the good health to do it. He also notes that his parents are in good health so he doesn’t worry about them while he’s living in India.
Becky Douglas founded Rising Star Outreach (RSO) in 2002, after a visit to India where she witnessed the abject poverty and wretched conditions in which people were living. Initially, RSO provided support to other organizations operating in support of this community in India, but in 2004, RSO opened its first home and school to begin caring for and teaching children. Beginning with a class of 27, the school has grown nearly eight-fold and now serves 225 students.
The school is well known in the community. About 80% of the students come from the leper colonies. Although there are other public and private schools available to these children, many would not be in school at all but for the opportunity to attend the RSO school. The other 20% of the students are from the local community, not directly associated with the leper colonies.
Given that members of the leper colonies are viewed as being among the lowest castes in society, having children from the broader community participating in the school helps to demonstrate to both communities the importance of seeing people as individuals and certainly not as members of a caste.

Tyler Smith (left) and Sam Smith (right) attend to leprosy patients. Photo by Allyson Smith.

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