“People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world. They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes.

Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations,

 and yes, the world.”       –Beth Clark

January started out with a bang as Rising Star marks its 10 Year Celebratory year! The last few months have been incredibly busy and rewarding for Rising Star Outreach, and I will highlight a few exciting events that are creating positive changes toward transforming and lifting lives. If our year continues at this pace we will change lives at a rate that is unimaginable!
Goals for Girls
Goals for Girls is an international initiative of girls helping girls through the game of soccer. An earlier blog post describes the visit to Rising Star where the lives of many of our female students were enriched as they gained skills that will empower them to do well in soccer, in academics, and in life. Thank you Goals for Girls!
Highway to Marriott
When I first heard that Prem Joseph, an employee at a Marriott in India, would travel 6900 kilometers and visit 22 Marriotts throughout India, I thought it was unbelievable. Then I realized he would be riding a motorcycle and thought he was crazy! However, when I learned that Prem was doing it to raise money for Rising Star, I acknowledged it as a miracle and a blessing. As riders roared through the Rising Star campus, we enthusiastically welcomed Prem and his friends to Rising Star and gratefully accepted the $14,000 he raised during this ride!
We were also pleasantly surprised to see Ankush Sharma, General Manager of the Courtyard Marriott in Chennai and Chairman of our School Board, rumble onto campus riding his motorcycle and sporting a black leather jacket!
“While some may see certain individuals as the crazy ones, we see generosity and courage. Because people who are crazy enough to think they can make a difference in the world are usually the ones who do” (Apple Inc.).  We express our sincere appreciation to Prem and all those who supported this incredible ride, which will make a difference in the lives of many at Rising Star.
 Women to Women Volunteer Session

In January Rising Star welcomed 35 volunteers—all women but one—for the Women to Women session. They came with willing hands to serve and worked from sun up to sun down.  The session began with a tribute to the many individuals who helped launch Rising Star and included the story of Becky Douglas, founder of Rising Star, and of her daughter, Amber and Padma Venkatraman. Each woman gave love and dedication to the children by tutoring, reading, and enjoying joyous moments with them. They tenderly washed leprous wounds on hands and feet of those who yearn for the gift of touch and healing, and they worked tirelessly during the construction of an outhouse for the Mogalvadi Colony. The women were very impressed with the leadership on the Rising Star campus and expressed appreciation for the kindness of Dr. Susan, the Rising Star staff, Dale and Lily Simpson, and all the long-term coordinators who helped make their time at Rising Star an experience they will cherish for a lifetime.
 The women also had the opportunity to meet members of the Rising Star Boards from India and the USA. Callie Reagan and Amy Humphrey, staff from the USA, received high accolades for planning and facilitating the Women to Women session.
Because so many new friendships were formed, many participants expressed a desire in making the Women to Women session an annual or bi-annual tradition! “Human suffering and need are everywhere, yet people are people. They all need food and water and medicine, but mostly they need love, …and with that love God makes the impossible, possible” (Beth Clark). I express gratitude to these beautiful women for sharing their love so abundantly with everyone at Rising Star. 

Sport’s Day and Talent Show

It was a thrill to be on the Rising Star campus for Sport’s Day. It took countless hours to organize and prepare this exciting event where the students showed their skills in marching, dance, individual races and relays, and team competition. The best part was watching the sportsmanship of the team members as they congratulated each other after the events.

Shortly after the sporting events the campus was filled with music, displays of academic achievements, a short play, and incredible performances by our LifeDance Troupe led by their Promethean Spark dance instructors, Kyla Threlfall and Shynee Narang. All of us, including Board Members, Ankush Sharma, and his wife, Kelly, and Sakthivel Venkatraman enjoyed the Talent Show and delighted the children by displaying their own dance skills. It was an amazing day showcasing many Rising Stars!

(left to right)  Sally Read, Sakthivel Venkatraman, Kelly Sharma and Ankush Sharma

Durga Devi and Sakthivel

Ankush Sharma, Sharon Thompson, Kelly Sharma, Sakthivel Venkatraman and Sally Read

(left to right) Ann Herlin, Sandra Rigby, Sally Read, Saktivel Venkatraman, Christine Cronquist and Sharon Thompson
Nehru Award for Outstanding Service to Children
Rising Star won the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for service to children instituted by Pulse of India. This is an annual award given to NPOs during Children’s Day Celebration. Congratulations to our staff in India for this remarkable achievement!

Thottanaval Village Projects
Rising Star participated in the tree plantation project Thottanaval Village near our campus and 450 saplings were planted. A water tank was also installed in the village helping many receive clean water.

Necessary Toilets in the Colonies

27 toilets were renovated and 10 new toilets were built in several colonies this year. These toilets provide much needed clean sanitation and convenience for those living in the colonies and everyone is grateful for this blessing.
As you can see, our Celebratory Year has begun with many exciting events and accomplishments, and we look forward to the months ahead during this special year. Come join us and become involved in the exciting work of lifting those affected by leprosy: sponsor a child who will benefit from the gift of education or volunteer with us and have your very own amazing experience in India. Check out the availability of our Volunteer Sessions at risingstaroutreach.org or contact Callie Reagan at creagan@risingstaroutreach.org.
We appreciate your continued support and wish you a happy February!
Rising Star Outreach

Two of the Women to Women volunteers shared their thoughts about their time spent at Rising Star:  Suzanne Stott and Ann Herlin

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