Greetings from India! First and most importantly, we’d like to give an enormous “thank you” to all the volunteers who have visited Rising Star so far this summer. Your contributions to the lives of the children and the colony patients cannot be overstated. We thank you for your service and encourage you to stay connected with us, especially by writing letters to the students and sponsoring!
This month we’ve concluded one fantastic session and begun another. One great thing about having so many different visitors is the variety of talents and skills that people bring with them to enrich our campus. In my seven months as volunteer director, I’ve had gymnasts, dancers, dentists, artists, videographers, computer programmers, surfers, and loads of singers. This last session in particular had a lot of impressive musical talent, and we thought it would be fun for some of the volunteers to put on a little concert for the kids. On the last night of the session, we held a group Prayer Time in the Dining Hall, with all the volunteers, students, and housemothers sitting together. Annemarie and Tiffany entertained us with some original country and bluegrass songs, which were a big hit. Everyone joined in for “Down to the River,” a folk song that the coordinators taught the children this summer. A few volunteers shared their experiences in India with the children. One of the speakers, Steven, explained a principle he felt captured the Rising Star experience: the simple concept that happiness is a choice. He offered this as a lesson to the kids, inviting them to choose to make good decisions and bring positive feelings into their lives, but we volunteers knew this message was for us. Every day we are blessed to work with children who come from incredibly poor circumstances, indeed the lowest and least respected places in all of India—leprosy colonies. Though the children’s needs are met at the school, their lives remain simple and do not contain so many of the comforts we visitors cannot live without. Yet their happiness exceeds anything we have ever known. Rising Star children are selfless, tough, and endlessly cheerful, and they welcome all visitors as new friends without any judgment or hesitation.
When the Prayer meeting was over, the volunteers said tearful goodbyes to all the students they’d bonded so closely with. As one who has looked on so many volunteer sessions, I know how difficult this time is. Many volunteers come expecting significant and meaningful experiences, but few foresee the intense power of these amazing kids, and it isn’t until they have to leave that they see how inseparably connected they’ve become. Once a Rising Star volunteer, always a Rising Star volunteer!
What an incredible work to be a part of. Thank you again to all who have come to support us. Thank you to the group currently serving, with whom we look forward to two more weeks of hard work and fun. And thank you to everyone else over the years that made the decision to join the Rising Star family.
Summer 2013 Volunteer Coordinator