President’s Letter

           On a recent visit to our beautiful Rising Star campus in India, I had another first-hand view of the amazing work in which Rising Star is involved. Much of that work happens because of dedicated people coming together from different nationalities, cultures and religions, working together in a common cause, united in the belief that all lives are equal in value and deserve freedom from disease and poverty—poverty of healthcare, poverty of education and most of all poverty of dignity.

        During my stay in India our Indian Board of Directors, under the leadership of Ms. Padma Venkatraman, met to address these levels of poverty. Ms. Vankatraman is an extraordinary leader and has been a vital part of the history of Rising Star.  For many years she has worked with Becky Douglas, sharing the vision of changing lives. Padma’s guidance in India ensures that not only what we do is vital, but also equally important is doing it with compassion and love. 
          One evening while eating dinner with our Rising Star students and staff, I shared how much I enjoyed hearing the joyful sounds of children talking and laughing together.  They appeared to be so happy, even though they are away from their homes many months of the year. One of the housemothers smiled and tenderly reminded me, “Yes, they may be away from their physical home, but they are enjoying the blessing of being comfortable, happy and learning much everyday. That is a feeling of being home.”  A kind, hard-working woman, also away from her physical home, sharing her love with the children and thereby strengthening my own vision of Rising Star.
         Rising Star is blessed by the dedication and commitment of Padma, our Indian and USA Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, donors and countless people from all over the world who lovingly work together, hand-in-hand, to lift the lives of those in our Rising Star community! How exciting it is to be part of Rising Star!

Sally Read


          Last week we were able to go to Manila Elementary School in Pleasant Grove to share Rising Star with children that are the same age as many of our students at Rising Star. They started their assembly with the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance just as our Rising Star Peery Matriculation students do everyday at their morning assembly with their Indian National Song, Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. We may be on the other side of the world, but our similarities are so much closer.

            Dr. Nancy Sorensen, the principle at the school, has volunteered in India with Rising Star. Her school runs fundraisers every year, this year they are participating in Penny Wars. This is a fundraiser where kids can bring in and donate their pennies to a cause. They can drop quarters, nickels and dimes in competitors class jugs, lowering their scores. The money that is more than a penny is a negative amount making it an intense competition between classes to raise money. 
           Dr. Sorensen was able to share some of her volunteer experiences and pictures with students and parents in attendance, raising awareness not only for Rising Star, but leprosy and those that suffer from its effects.
           Thank you to all who have shared Rising Star Outreach with those they come in contact with. We are lucky we have a diverse group of supporters and volunteers that share the mission and educate others about leprosy in creative and effective ways. Only with your help are we able to make a difference.

More than Just a Pillow Case

 Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Rising Star’s beautiful India campus to see the great work being accomplished there. One of the items on my list was to distribute pillow cases that were generously donated to the Rising Star children from Gloria Pope and many kind-hearted women in the US. With the help of our two volunteer coordinators, Erin Moore and Anita Leiva, many of the pillow cases were successfully handed out to Rising Star children. The excitement and reaction of the younger children was pure entertainment! They immediately began wrapping themselves in the pillow cases making skirts, hats and even super hero capes. The pillow case fun lasted their entire play time! However, many of the children said they would like to use the pillow cases as bags to store items they earn and purchase at the “Star Store.” Each week, Rising Star children who demonstrate good behavior are able to earn “stars.” The total number of “stars” they can earn per week is seven. These “stars” are then tallied up at the end of the week and can either be saved or used to purchase fun and useful items at the “Star Store.” Most of the children have cubbies, but do not have a bag to keep their items safe from falling out and getting lost. These beautiful pillow cases were each made with the Rising Star children at heart, which is obvious when you examine the materials used and the time put into sewing each one. These pillow cases will be a big hit for years to come!

–Steele Hendershot

 Republic Day

January 26th was Republic Day in India and the Peery Matriculation School celebrated with a Republic Day Program, extended playtime and movie night!

Republic Day Program was the following:

Prayer: Thanizh Thai Vazhthu
Welcome: Principal
Flag Hoisting: Mr. Steele
Flag Song
March Past
Guard of Honor
Tamil Speech: Children
English Speech: Children
Speech by Chief Guest: Mr. Steele
Vote of Thanks: Educational Director
National Anthem

Republic Day celebrates when the new Constitution of India came into action on January 26, 1950. This constitution replaced the Government of India Act signed in 1935. This is the day India became a republic. It is one of the three National Holiday’s in India.


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