Editor’s Note: We are pleased and astonished that despite the challenges of COVID and other governmental regulations, Rising Star has been able to push forward year after year and build a school for the children of the leprosy-affected in Bihar, India. We traveled there with Becky and can tell you it is one of the places on earth that is the “least of these” with rampant poverty and heart-breaking disease. Yet, the students who will be able to attend the new school because someone has sponsored them, will be blessed to see their live and the lives of the generations who follow completely transformed. Come and be part of it.

To learn how you can sponsor a child today, CLICK HERE

I am also grateful to Scot and Maurine for letting us approach you again, to ask you to support a child and allow them to receive the education that will change their lives.

A few of the stories of our children will illustrate the power of your donation.

David & Daniel were brought by their mother, from their leprosy colony.  I had met their mother at Church.  This is a picture of them the day they arrived at Rising Star Outreach.  The older boy, Daniel, had had leprosy.  They both had a fever that day.  I gave them the first toothbrushes they had ever owned.

This is David and Daniel today.  Daniel has his Master’s degree from BYUH in hospitality and David has his business degree from BYU.  They have both served missions for the Church and have their own families today.  Daniel and his wife returned to Rising Star for a while and served as house parents to the children living on campus.  They were such an inspiration to our students!

What strikes me when I go to one of our campuses and talk to the students, is to learn that every student has a story.  Their stories are heartbreaking even just to hear them.  I can’t imagine living them and surviving.

To learn how you can sponsor a child today, CLICK HERE

Two little children were brought to us one day by the leprosy colony leader because their father had doused their mother with gasoline and lit her on fire.  This is unfortunately a dark custom known in India as a “kitchen fire” and has happened to many women in India whose husbands no longer want them.

The two siblings were terribly traumatized, as you can imagine.  The little boy had scorch marks on his hands and feet from trying to save his mother.

They were immediately surrounded in love by the housemothers, staff, and the other children at Rising Star.  Slowly they began to heal and they are finally happy, thriving children today.

To learn how you can sponsor a child today, CLICK HERE

I think I shared earlier the story of a girl I’ll call PK.  Her father gave her to be married when she was 13 years old. Her husband took her to his home state, where a different language was spoken.  He was alcoholic and abusive.  Not being able to speak the language, she felt isolated and forsaken.  After just a few weeks, she managed to escape and ran to the police station.  When they asked her who could help her, she didn’t dare give her father’s name so she gave them the name of our director at Rising Star.  This was in the middle of the night.

He was hundreds of miles away, yet arranged for one of our school leaders to travel immediately to this other state and claim her from the police station.  Rising Star was granted custody of her.  Though rescued, she was still traumatized.  She was in a deep depression.  She cried a lot and wouldn’t associate with the other students.  When I visited her at our campus, we talked for a while and then I asked her if I could take her picture with me.  She reluctantly agreed.  Our Director, Mr. Suku took the picture and then burst into a huge grin.  Showing me the picture in his camera he said, “This is the first smile we’ve seen from her since she came back.”

This is PK today.  She is a happy, thriving student.  She is bright and quick to learn.  She has many friends and everyone who meets her is struck by her confidence and happy demeaner. (She is in red).

One day a cart ran over a coconut in one of the leprosy colonies where we work.  All the little girls came running to get a piece of the coconut.  Looking at this picture you would never believe that the little girl in green would grow up to become a fabulous Bharatanatyam dancer.

In fact, she has won many competitions in this beautiful Indian dance form.  Today she is in college studying dance and has become one of the top dancers in the program.

We had a gala in Salt Lake City a few months ago, and the theme was “Because of Rising Star. . . .”  We recounted the stories of those whose lives were changed because of Rising Star.  But in truth, the theme should be “Because of You,” for it is people like you that make this great work possible.  It is not just the buildings or the books or the food or uniforms or supplies you fund, it is the lives you change.

To learn how you can sponsor a child today, CLICK HERE

At our gala, Jennifer G. came to represent the children of Rising Star Outreach.  Her story is a remarkable one—one that I’ve shared previously.  Her mother had emotional problems and was overwhelmed by parenthood.  One day, she threw little Jennifer onto a pile of trash.  These trash piles in India are huge!    They can often be as tall as 7 stories.

As snarling dogs surrounded her, her grandfather happened to be coming home from begging in the city and he heard her screams.  Even though his feet are badly affected by leprosy, he managed to climb to the top of this filthy trash heap and there he was stunned to find his own tiny granddaughter.  He rescued her and took her into his own home to raise her.  When she turned five, he brought her to Rising Star.

She eventually graduated from Rising Star and entered into a medical program to become a nurse anesthetist.  She has now graduated and is working as an intern. She made an interesting comment at the gala.  She said, “If it were not for Rising Star Outreach, Jennifer would not even exist today.  Not only do I exist, but I am now helping to heal others!”

At the gala were those that sponsored Jennifer through all those years.  Jennifer was full of joy, looking forward to her future with great anticipation.  But her joy and anticipation were more than matched by those sponsors that made it all possible.

As I said, I could go on and on, because every child you talk to has a story!  One little boy was left sitting in the dirt by his father.  He had brought him to Tamilnadu from New Delhi to register him in our school.  But by the time they arrived, we already had a waiting list of several hundred students.  Not having enough money to get his son back to Delhi on the train, the father took him to a colony and asked them to watch his child until the father could earn enough money to get him home.  The leader of the colony told us later they didn’t have enough room or food for their own kids, so this little boy was left sitting in the dirt crying for three days until we found him.  Today he is graduated from Rising Star Outreach and in college!

Another beautiful little girl was left “orphaned” when her mother was dragged off to a mental hospital.  Her father had already died.  Once again, the colony leader contacted us to say they could not care for her.  Could we take her?   Again, the stories go on and on.

I am convinced that every child born on this earth comes with unique talents, interests and abilities to bless mankind with.  Even children born into leprosy colonies!  They need only opportunity and nurturing to be able to develop these gifts.

Sponsoring a child involves a commitment of $30/month.  If you are interested in helping us to fill the school with children, please email Kristen Goodell at Kg******@Ri****************.org.  She will match you up with a child in Bihar. 

Every three sponsorships covers the full cost of the teaching, supplies, housing and care of that child for a month.  School starts in June, and we are hoping to fill the classes full on the first day!