India (MNN) — The Dalits of India are known as the untouchables. In many cases they're treated as sub-human. However, in one village, India Partners has been able to start a Christian kindergarten, which is bringing hope to the community.
President and CEO of India Partners Brent Hample says the village is located on an island surrounded by a river. "There's no school on the island that the children can go to for a good education. Most of them have to take a ferry off the island to learn to read and write. Only 10 percent of the villagers go on to high school. And only half the villagers are able to read their own language."
Together with their partners, India Partners started the Christian kindergarten where students are "learning to read and write, doing math, and then they also learn about our Lord, a loving God and exposes them to that," says Hample.
While India is predominately Hindu, Hample says that's not stopping them. "These village that we go into with our agency partners are very open to it because the agency partners works with the elders of the village over a long period of time."
50 children are currently attending classes, but the need is even greater. There's only one thing holding them back. "They have the people ready to teach and to work on the island. They have the elders and the villagers behind them. The only thing they lack is the funding."
The children receive a midday meal, slates, slate pencils, notebooks, textbooks and more.
India Partners doesn't want the program to stop, so they're asking for your help. "Our goal is to raise $8,000 to keep the kindergarten going for another year, to start of first grade, and provide the school with tables, benches, fans and blackboards."
It only costs $60 a month to support a teacher, $33 a month for an assistant, and $140 a month for a daily meal for each child.
Asked if these kids will come to Christ in this Christian kindergarten, Hample replied: "Not all of them. Some do. Many don't, but at least they have learned who Jesus is and have been given the opportunity to respond. And maybe down the road they will. God works in people's lives in different ways."
The initial project was set up by the Central Lutheran Foundation, which is actually part of a local church. The foundation helped India Partners as it was forming.