First Dalit could graduate Partners-assisted high school in 2011

By January 25, 2010

India (MNN) — In India, the "abolished" caste system remains alive and active, oppressing those in the lowest social class. Partners International and Dalit-led Bible Faith Mission (BFM) are helping thousands overcome social oppression through education. Partners has raised the bar for 2010. You could be involved in this monumental movement.

Officially abolished in 1950, the Hindu title "untouchable" refers to members of India's lowest social class: the Dalits. Partners' Carlos Calderon describes the caste system as a "deck of cards."

"When a Dalit becomes a Christian, that person moves himself or herself from that house built with cards, and that Dalit loses all privileges granted by the government of India," Calderon describes. "And that is a gross human rights abuse."

Despite governmental efforts to eradicate the caste system, its deep prejudices are still active today — many Dalits are forbidden from entering the home of a higher caste person or drawing water from the public well. 

Partners International works with BFM to advocate Dalits' rights before government judges and civil courts. Now they're enabling Dalits to fend for themselves. 

"This is the premise: not only should we be present before the government with lawyers and so on, but we should be building the Dalits, especially the children," Calderon says, "to be capable people that can defend themselves not on the basis of laws, but on the basis of their own God-given capabilities."

BFM launched the fully-accredited Dalit private school in 2005. Calderon says evangelism goes hand-in-hand with the school's curriculum. Here, students openly learn about Jesus and His Ways. "It's a great place of natural evangelism; it just happens. No one is hiding it; it's all very clear.

"[School administrators] are a little bit more proactive in sharing their faith. Parents know that when they put their kids in a Christian school, that is exactly what they're going to get."

BFM's Dalit high school could witness its first graduates in 2011. Click here to help make that happen.

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