Program Highlights

School Sponsorship Program

The Sponsorship Program offers students a way to break the cycle of debilitating poverty that has burdened their families for generations. Your gift of an education cannot be underestimated. In gratitude, sponsored students actively seek ways to give back to their communities.

    Students cleaning
  • More than 10% of our teachers were former sponsorship students in our school. After their training, these young people chose to accept salaries lower than they might earn in the city, in order to serve their rural community.
  • Students are beginning to change local attitudes toward sanitation and waste disposal by regularly participating in trash cleanup along the road around Arunachala. This is part of a new Environmental Science program offered by the school to encourage awareness and stewardship.
  • Although most parents of sponsored students are illiterate, sponsorship students now perform as well as more advantaged students.
  • Again this year, 100% of our 10th grade students passed the rigorous government exams. All but 2 passed the very difficult 12th grade exams. These students will re-take the math portion of the exam this month, and will likely pass. Even now, their scores are well above average for both the district and the state of Tamil Nadu.
Students eating

"Thank you for giving us this opportunity for education. This is a great school. It is one of the best in Tiruvannamalai district. Our teacher is a bright light for us. Our school also provide(s) healthy food for us and water in good condition. We don't waste it."

-Student letter, Grade 3

Professional Training Program (PTP)

Students cleaning

In the poor rural communities we serve, even students who have worked with tremendous dedication to finish high school still face dismal job prospects. Without further training, they have very little chance of finding meaningful employment.

Your gifts to PTP make it possible for Professional Training students to attend vocational institutes, BA, Masters, and PhD programs. In addition, the careful PTP selection process and well-structured program provide the support students need to thrive:

  • PTP students agree to fulfill requirements that include:
    • Once a week attendance at weekend tutorials
    • Attendance at monthly lectures by key speakers
    • Regular progress reports
    • Alumni commitment to support the program after graduation
  • Selection Criteria target individuals who combine the most desperate need with the greatest motivation to overcome their personal circumstances.
  • Students are counseled to choose careers in which there are current openings, to be assured of finding jobs after graduation.

Can you help by making a 3-year commitment to a deserving student in need, at $420/year?

Om Shanthi Project

Om Shanthi Project

Om Shanthi serves destitute widows in South India. It offers two programs uniquely appropriate for women of different ages.

Handcraft Training Program for Young Widows:

Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to expand our handcraft training program for young widows much earlier than originally planned.

  • 19 young widows trained last year are already producing high quality handcrafts.
  • Their children are attending school through our School Sponsorship Program and receive free medical care at our clinic.
  • Your gifts, along with profits from the sale of handcrafts, are helping train another 20 widows and other women at risk.

Om Shanthi Home for Elderly Widows: (More information)

    Om Shanthi Project
  • 12 elderly women live in the Home and are cared for by 5 single women, day and night.
  • Your gifts are building a second home for 13 more women who will move in this fall.
  • Once the building is complete, the Indian government will cover half the operating costs.

"So many visitors have experienced the happiness, well-being and bliss we all share with each other: donors, widows and helpers alike, without any distinction of caste, religion, status, nationality, gender or age. None of this is important. Only the heart counts, which is opening wide by doing this work."

- Anna Etter, founder of Om Shanthi

Aruna Designs

Our collaboration with Anna Etter and the widows of Om Shanthi has infused the handcraft project with energy this year.

    Aruna Designs
  • The batik center, which reopened a year ago, now uses only non-toxic Azo-free dyes, compliant with European standards.
  • Our weaving center reopened this winter, training and employing more young widows. It had closed in 2010, due to a dramatic rise in the cost of threads after catastrophic flooding in the cotton fields of Pakistan. Learn more in Focus On Design
  • High-end rugs and cushion covers handwoven from recycled vintage silk saris will be available soon. We hope to offer them for sale online before the end of the year.

Care Now

The Care Now Program continues to provide a monthly stipend to elderly and disabled villagers who otherwise would have no source of income.

As the Indian government extends assistance to more citizens, the program is gradually being reduced in scope. Care Now currently serves approximately 350 people. Staff are available and prepared to respond in emergency situations, should the need arise.