Sunday, November 28, 2010

Off to India

So, as I have mentioned in a few past blogs, I will be going to India this Christmas break to build homes for the Dalits in the state of Andhra Pradesh. I thought I would finally fill you in on the details.

I will be traveling with about 10 other wonderful members of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program (JET) who currently work as English teachers and coordinators for international relations all over Japan. The project we are taking part in is called Building Communities, a partnership between the U.S.-based non-profit organization Longitude and the Association of Relief Volunteers (ARV), an Indian human rights organization.

The people we will be working with in India are the Dalits otherwise known as the “Untouchables” caste. The Dalits are the lowest members of the legally abolished but still socially practiced Hindu caste system. They also comprise 90% of the poorest of the poor in India. The reason why their poverty situation is particularly difficult to get out of is that although caste-based discrimination has been abolished since 1947, more than 170 million people are still victims of daily prejudice.

Indians of other castes can climb the social and financial ladder to become prosperous and can improve their situation if they wanted to. However, being born a Dalit means that even if you wanted and worked hard, you are restricted to menial jobs, usually of the lowest salary range. Jobs allotted to Dalits include unclogging sewers, making bricks in scorching heat and working as meagerly paid field hands. In many cases they still have to make sure that they never come into physical contact with higher caste people and may even have to ensure that they do not touch anything which is going to be touched by higher caste people. This means that they cannot go near eating places or water sources to not pollute it with their presence.

Because of their poverty and low social status, Dalits do not have adequate access to food, housing, clothing, education or health care. This creates a vicious circle that prevents many Dalits from getting themselves out of poverty.

Association of Relief Volunteers is working to empower them by providing adequate housing, medical necessities, food and water security and the skills necessary to improve their own means through education. Our work and the funds we raise will go towards building family homes and assisting with education programs that aim to improve health and sanitation, food security and proper nutrition, women’s empowerment, Dalit empowerment and helping children complete their educations so they have better chances for progress and upward mobility in their lives and in the lives of future generations.

The group I am going with is accepting donations so when we get there we can make that much more of a difference. I am fully aware of how often I ask for money for all of these little projects I decide to take on, so please don't fee obligated to donate. As we are gearing up for this winter’s trip, we are working hard to raise as much as possible. Any support you can provide is very much appreciated. Please remember that any amount helps- especially in India where $12 can feed a child a glass of milk and an egg everyday for an entire month and $375 can build an entire family a home.

Despite their situation, the Dalit people of Chevuru Village are always smiling and are very hard working people. If we can help provide them with support and an education, I know they can rise against the social discrimination they face everyday and will be able to thrive and stand on their own.

Donations can be made in two ways. The easiest and fastest way is through credit card payment on our group page JET Winter Work Camp

If you are uncomfortable with making a donation online please send your donations to the following address and be sure to specify that they are for the Winter 2010 volunteer crew. Please include your email address in the check memo to receive your tax receipt via email.

21 Crescent St.
Providence, RI 02907

Your donations are 100% tax deductible and you will receive an acknowledgement of your gift for your tax records. Additionally, your name will be listed on our homepage! Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions. For more information, please visit our group page at:

Longitude Winter Trip 2010

Thank you all for taking the time to read this and for all your love and support in all the endeavors I decide to take on.

Lots of love,

Be the change you want to see in the world.-Ghandi

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