“Education is the movement from darkness to light.” Allan Bloom

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The above statement is certainly relevant to Rising Star Outreach.  Education illuminates the lives of our students and compassionate service brings light to lives darkened by the physical and social disease of leprosy. Starting a small business through micro-grants ignites a light within a mother or father, giving them the opportunity to support a family rather than begging in the streets. Light is a powerful symbol of the love, optimism and hope Rising Star Outreach brings to the lives it touches.

March is a busy month on our campus in India as teachers prepare the students for annual exams, and the 5th, 8th, 10th, and 12th standard students are preparing to sit for the annual government exams. It’s a time when our students buckle down and focus on the exams in an environment of encouragement and support.

Another reference to light says, “A good teacher is like a candle –it consumes itself to light the way for others.” —Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The Peery Matriculation School prides itself on high educational standards through dedicated teachers and administrators that provide an exceptional learning environment. We recognize Mr. Hirudayanathan A., education adviser; Mr. Richards V.S., headmaster for the high school; Mr. Sanakaranamasivayam B., headmaster for primary school; and all the extraordinary teachers who bring light and knowledge to each Rising Star Outreach student.

Dr. Nancy Sorensen, an educator from the United States, visited the campus in January to share her knowledge and insights with teachers at the Peery Matriculation School.

Dr. Sorensen presented workshops on teaching techniques that enhance activity-based learning and higher level thinking skills. I greatly appreciate Dr. Sorensen’s efforts to spread the light of knowledge.

Light and hope symbolize the expansion of our work in the Trichy area in southern Tamil Nadu. Through the generous support of The Order of St. Lazarus and other organizations, we are serving colonies there that have been in darkness and despair for years.  Last year Dr. Susan and I visited several of these colonies.  We were shocked by the level of desperation we saw, especially in the 21st Century. It was heart wrenching.

Dr. Susan comments, “When I first visited the place, the people looked grim and gloomy. Their clothes were filthy. The children were malnourished. The inhabitants earned a living by begging, crime, brewing illicit liquor, and soliciting. There were frequent quarrels among them. They were very angry and wanted the vehicle driver and me to leave immediately. The dogs were all barking. We left a business card, then called again after a month and asked if they would let us help. They said, ‘Yes, come.’”

Dr. Susan and our team have been working in the Trichy colony for the past year. The residents were literally in darkness and asked for light—the light of simple electricity. After seven months of diligent effort, Rising Star Outreach was able to get electric power to the colony. Dr. Susan continues, “We started to send our team, and the health of the patients improved dramatically. They started to bathe and wear clean clothes. Then Rising Star Outreach built a community shed. This was used for our medical work and their social needs. A welfare committee was organized. They are united now. Perpetual Education Grants were given for three children. They want to send one child to our school and are sending in application forms.”
While on campus in January I walked into Dr. Susan’s office and was pleasantly surprised to meet leaders from the Panchapur Colony. I barely recognized them! Dr. Susan and I were astonished at their physical transformation. Instead of the darkness and despair we had seen months before, their faces glowed with the light of hope! They had travel all night to reach the campus to express gratitude for the assistance they received from Rising Star Outreach. “It is a miraculous transformation by God working through weak and frail human beings using the age-old panacea of all ills: kindness,” said Dr. Susan Hilton.
This is the essence of Rising Star Outreach’s mission—to assist the “least among us”, who are enshrouded in darkness, to find illumination through light: light of knowledge through education, light of the restoration of health and healing, light through the grants to individuals or families who want a hand up not a hand out.

You have my sincere appreciation for supporting this remarkable work. Because of your constant support of Rising Star Outreach, you make the saying at the beginning of this letter true: “Compassion and kindness are the movement from darkness to light.
Sally Gardner Read
Rising Star Outreach
P.S. I love this photo of one of our sweet couples in the Bhararthapuram colony. Rising Star Outreach build an outhouse for them. They wanted to thank us, so they invited us to their home. Gigi, one of our volunteers, let them take some ‘selfies!’ Priceless!
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