UPDATE: VOLUNTEER EXPEDITIONS
Thank you for being a valued supporter of Rising Star Outreach’s mission to help the leprosy affected in India. Together, we have been able to do incredible things!
Recently, a change was deemed necessary regarding a portion of one of our core programs, namely our Volunteer Expeditions.
Over the last two years, non-profit organizations in India have experienced devastating blows to their programs due to new laws and regulations. It is truly unfortunate that the tender work of supporting and serving the leprosy affected of southern India is being impacted in this way. One large area of scrutiny has focused on foreign volunteers and the kinds of service they provide. Our board of directors have carefully weighed the increasing risk to volunteers as the scrutiny and interpretation of local laws seem to be intensifying regarding foreigners entering their country having any association with non-profit organizations.
Because of this, we have deemed it best, for now, to temporarily suspend the Expeditions portion of our Volunteer Program. This decision did not come easily. Rising Star Outreach has been defined in many ways over the past 17 years by our volunteer program within India. Many of us have had very sweet experiences with this program. Most prior volunteers consider this experience to be life-changing and transformative – sincerely changing the way they view the world.
This was a difficult decision, but we feel that the safety of our volunteers, our school, and our programs are our first priority. We are already in the process of working to create stronger relationships within the Indian government, so that we can resolve issues and mitigate risks – paving the way to reinstate the Volunteer Expeditions. We hope that the Indian government will recognize the great value of partnering with foreign volunteers in the near future.
Although this is a difficult change, luckily the Volunteer Expeditions comprised only a small part of our operations, and this temporary suspension has minimal impact on our other projects and programs. Our U.S.-based office works closely with our 100+ Indian staff members to ensure that our programs continue to run smoothly, both on our campus and with those we serve in the colonies.
Our school is humming along with the students excitedly engaged in their learning programs. Our colony development is continuing, as well as our economic self-sufficiency program. Our medical program continues to expand as we provide more treatments to leprosy patients. Our Perpetual Education Grant program is advancing as well, with programs now functioning in four states of India. Our Sponsor A Child program is thriving with increased support from dedicated sponsors. We are also in the process of seriously exploring the possibility of creating an additional new Rising Star Outreach campus in Bihar.
We know how much you love and support Rising Star Outreach. We also want to keep you involved. Our team has been working hard to revamp a more locally-based volunteer program, here in the US. We want people to still have important ways to engage with our work and feel personally connected to those we support. We hope to keep you involved in the knowledge of how this will progress, moving forward.
In the meantime, I wanted to thank you for your support and your understanding as we navigate this situation. Please contact our Director of International Programs & Outreach, Shalay Gold, directly if you have any questions, or need any additional assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.820.0466.
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