History

Lifting Those With Leprosy

 

While visiting India in 2000, our founder, Becky Douglas, observed a depth of suffering

that was palpable. She witnessed human beings in deplorable conditions. Worst of all 

were the Leprosy beggars,who would approach her at every stop begging for help. 


     1st

When she returned to the United States, she was so haunted by those images that

she knew she had to act. She called four close friends, and around her kitchen table

they quietly formed Rising Star Outreach. It was incorporated and received its

501(c)(3)tax-free status in March 2002. Their mission, as it was originally

defined, was to provide loving homes and much needed educational

opportunities for some of the needy children in India.


     2nd

After a few years of supporting other organizations, the first official Rising Star Outreach

children's home was rented and opened in April of 2004 with 27 children from the

Leprosy colonies. The success of the home was stunning, and in 2005 a second children's

home was rented and opened for 32 additional colony kids. Now officially recognized by

the Indian government, Rising Star has been commended for the high standard of care and

excellence maintained in the school as the children prepare to enter mainstream society.

     3rd

As word got out among the Leprosy colonies of the Rising Star Outreach children's homes,

the waiting list began to grow until it became clear that there was a significant need for

a permanent facility. In November 2005 Rising Star purchased 13.5 acres of land,

following an eighteen-month search. In October of 2006, construction began on a

permanent school for the children.

     4th

Our beautiful, new campus was dedicated in 2010.  The Rising Star Campus is self

sustaining offering safe living quarters, the Marriott School for Boys and the Amber

Douglas School for Girls, for 200 children, the Peery Matriculation School - elementary,

middle and high school grades from K-10, volunteer quarters, a dining hall, Meditation

hall, and staff of over 60. It is a place of peace, learning and beauty.

     5th

While Rising Star was happy to have finally found a way to successfully care for the

children of Leprosy victims, the suffering of their families who remained behind in

the colonies could not be ignored. The school director had began taking rice and

beans out to the colonies each month in order to provide them with basic sustenance.

This, however, was only a temporary solution, and Rising Star recognized the need to

help the people learn to provide for themselves. That goal was realized in June of 2003,

when they met Padma Venkataraman while working in the colonies.

     6th

The daughter of India's former president, Padma was already well-known throughout

India for her pioneering work facilitating micro-finance projects in Leprosy colonies.

By providing small loans (usually around $15-20 US dollars) people were able to

purchase equipment and supplies necessary to begin their own small business. 

     7th

Having just completed a successful five-year project with DANITA, Padma was thrilled to

partner with Rising Star to continue her work helping Leprosy victims. For the first time

in known history, those afflicted with Leprosy were provided with a viable alternative to 

begging and were rising above the stigma of their disease.

     8th

As the colonies began to improve their economic situation, the primary challenge they

faced was the lack of consistent medical care. Access to hospitals was difficult, both

logistically and due to the social stigma. Rising Star Outreach responded to this

problem with the initiation of a Mobile Medical Unit in March 2005. Finally, severely

deformed Leprosy victims' problem of being unable to leave the colony for adequate

medical care was resolved. Run completely by a team of excellent Indian doctors, the

unit travels to the colonies and provides leprosy screening, medicines for treatment,

wound and ulcer care, and medical treatment for non-leprosy related ailments such

as TB, typhoid fever, and diabetes.

     9th

By the end of 2004 it became clear that the organization in the United States had grown

large enough to require the management of a professional staff and Rising Star hired its

first Executive Director, followed by a dedicated staff both paid and volunteer, Amy

Antonelli. Amy helped bring our organization to a new professional level with her

experience and insight. She quickly pulled together the first foundations of a dedicated

staff both paid and volunteer.

     10th

Rising Star Outreach has now grown into a nationally recognized force in the fight

against Leprosy. They have clarified their mission to focus on one specific objective:

to help the Leprosy colonies become thriving, self-sufficient communities.

     11th

The success of Rising Star Outreach to date has truly been a miracle. It is one that

they attribute completely to the kindness and generosity of concerned people all

over the world and the loving hand of God.

     12th

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Rising Star Outreach is a 501c(3) registered non-profit organization. © 2012 Rising Star Outreach. All rights reserved