“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead
            About 14 years ago a group of five women in Atlanta, Georgia gathered around a kitchen table to discuss how to help those in India affected by the horrible disease of leprosy. Becky Douglas, a housewife and mother of ten children, had just returned from India where she experienced first hand the leprous wounds, misshapen faces, and missing hands and feet of those suffering from this disease. The images she had seen were so disturbing that she asked four friends to lunch to talk about it and by the time the table was cleared, Rising Star Outreach was launched!
Sharon Thompson (Sports Day at Rising Star Outreach  January 2014)

            Sharon Thompson, a Rising Star Outreach board member, sat around the table that day.  She recalls how the name ‘Rising Star’ was chosen:

           “A few days before the meeting I was talking to my son, John, who is an Egyptologist.  John talked to me about some of the ways ancient religions perceived stars. When we were trying to come up with a name for our organization I told about my discussion with John and how what we were planning would change children’s lives. The children would become Rising Stars – bringing their own light into the world.  They would be a symbol of a new beginning and of great hope.  I knew that through their education they would dispel the darkness that is put upon them and their parents because of leprosy. The vote to name our organization ‘Rising Star’ was unanimous!”  Here is a summary of what John told me: 

                        “Due to the perceived movement of the night sky, stars and constellations and planets disappear below the horizon for a time and then reappear.  The reappearance of certain stars or planets on the horizon just before the sun rises is called a helical rising, Ancient astronomers watched for such appearances to mark holy days or other special events.  Stars such as Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, or planets like Venus, were particularly special to cultures in ancient Egypt and Israel.  The helical rising of Sirius marked the New Year and the beginning of the Nile’s inundation.  It symbolized new beginnings and hope. Venus was the ‘morning star’ in the Old and New Testament cultures, representing the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

                          What these stars and planets have in common is that their rising heralds the coming of the sun, the great light of the sky.  Christians believe that the Second Coming of Christ will herald the great day of His kingdom on earth when light will dispel the darkness.”

            Through education our students have truly become ‘Rising Stars’ and symbols of new beginnings and hope.  Darkness turns to light as their parents and grandparents are healed through medical care,and micro-grants allow them to start a business and thereby gain dignity. The volunteer program gives sunlight to our volunteers who share their own light and talents at Rising Star.  The sponsorship program brightens the future for the Rising Stars!
            During this celebratory year at Rising Star Outreach, we look back with deep appreciation to that “small group of committed citizens,” –those five incredible women— whose hearts were drawn to make a difference in the lives of those affected by leprosy.  Since that first meeting India’s horizon is now filled with Rising Stars!
Thank you Becky Douglas, Sharon Thompson, Brooke Hunter, Barbara Snider, and Gill Mason.
Sally Read, President
Rising Star Outreach
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