Editor’s Note: Meridian Magazine sponsors a special humanitarian each year that we all work on together as readers. This year we invite you to sponsor a child of the leprosy-affected, whose chances in life are minimal, unless someone steps forward to be their sponsor. Our goal is to sponsor 300 children whose lives will be forever changed because someone cared. You can learn more about sponsorship by clicking here. 

We are so grateful to see sponsorships coming in to Rising Star Outreach from Meridian readers.  These sponsorships will enable children on our waiting list for the new Rising Star campus in Bihar, to come to the school.  One reader alone, sponsored 21 children—one for each of her grandchildren!  My eyes got misty when I heard that, because I know what the impact of such a generous gift will be.

For these children, many of whom have been on the waiting list to be admitted to our school for several years now, this is providing a long-awaited opportunity that is a cause for celebration.

To share what it means to a child to be admitted to our school, I thought I would share some of their stories.  So, I wrote to Suku, our Director of our school in Bihar,  and asked him to send me some of the stories of children who have recently been brought from our waiting list into the Bihar school.

Why do we even have a waiting list?  Why don’t we bring all the children in who are begging to come?  Well, it’s a matter of space and money.  At the moment we don’t have space for a single extra child, as we are in a rented facility for our school, until the new school is completed.

The dorms at the new campus are scheduled to be completed in November.  At that point, we will make the move to the new campus, even though the school, itself, will still be under construction.  We will hold school in the dorms during the daytime until the new school is completed.

Because construction costs rose so severely during and following the pandemic, we have had to use ALL the funding for the new school just to complete the buildings.  It completely depleted the fund to bring in more children.  Thank heavens for Meridian Magazine and Meridian readers, who have seen the need and are responding!  We are committed to bringing another child off our waiting list—into the school—for every two sponsors we receive from Meridian.

Here are some of the stories of children we were able to admit recently from our waiting list.

In the Sitamadi leprosy colony, a young boy (who I’ll call Santhosh) had a brother and three sisters.  Their father was a mental patient, yet he did his best to work at odd jobs to support his children.  He was not able to earn enough to feed the children properly, and many nights they had to go to bed with empty stomachs. Their “house” was a run-down mud hut.  It had no electricity, toilets, or access to water.  During monsoon rains, the water leaked through the rotting straw roof

Santhosh is finally admitted to Rising Star

One dark monsoon night, as the family sat huddling and shivering together while rain poured through the rotting roof, Santhosh’s father left home.  The children assumed that he had gone to try to find some straw to cover the holes in their roof.  But as the hours dragged by the father did not return.  In the morning the children asked everyone in the colony if they had seen their father, but no one had any knowledge of his whereabouts.  Surely, he would be back soon . .

But Santhosh’s father never returned.  His mother was forced to become a “ragpicker”—one of those desperate souls who comb through the trash piles searching for any scrap they might be able to resell.  Food became even scarcer in the household.

That same year, Rising Star Outreach responded to a request from the Little Flower School in Sunderpur, Bihar, to take over the failing school.  We fixed the decrepit dorms, added doors and windows to the school, brought in lights and fans, textbooks and computers.  Qualified teachers were hired for the first time.  Most impressively, the children living in the dorms were fed nutritious meals three times a day.

Word quickly spread among the 22 colonies nearest to Sunderpur.  Parents from these colonies began making the trek to Sunderpur with their little children in tow.  Everyone, it seemed, wanted to put their children in the school.  But the available spots were quickly filled up.  The space at the school was very limited.  So, a waiting list was started.

Santhosh and his brother and sisters were put on the waiting list.  The chance that five spots would open up seemed pretty remote.  But then, one day when she was feeling at a loss to know how to feed her chidren that night, Santhosh’s mother received word that Santhosh and his sister, “Asha” had been accepted into the Rising Star School.

The family was overcome with joy!  The mother had tears of gratitude streaming down her cheeks.  Not only would her two children eat tonight, they would eat every night.  And it would be easier to feed the other children because there would be fewer to share the few scraps she was able to buy.

At first, both Santhosh and Asha felt intimidated.  The other children knew so much more than them.   They both diligently went to tutoring every day after school and studied well into the night.  The teachers went out of their way to help them.

Santhosh and Asha are now thriving happily.  They pray every night for their siblings to be accepted into the school.  Santhosh’s dream is to become an engineer. Asha’s dream is to become a doctor.  They are both diligent in all their studies.  Here is Santhosh as he was and here he is today, with head held high and purpose in his eyes.   What a difference!


In another colony, Poonam was a widow whose husband had passed away from leprosy complications.  His death left her with the necessity of providing for their three children.  This was especially challenging for her because she was also a leprosy patient.  Her hands and legs were damaged by the disease, which made walking difficult for her.

Even begging had become very difficult for her.  But what choice did she have?  She had three children to feed!  She had two young daughters, “Megala” and “Pavitra”, and a son named “Ravi”  (not their real names). Her secret dream was to find a way to get her children educated.

Poonam heard that there was an international organization called Rising Star Outreach, where children of leprosy patients were provided education, food, medical and dental care, and room and board without cost.  She traveled to Sunderpur to register her children.  Her friends told her not to get her hopes up as the school had a long waiting list, but just the act of registering her children provided Poonam with peace of mind.

She continued dragging herself outside her home begging in all seasons: in the unbearable heat of summer, when temperatures often soared over 100 degrees, throughout the pouring rains and floods of monsoon, and in the bitterness of winter storms.

Then it came, the welcome news that her children had been accepted in the Rising Star school.  All three of them!  As Poonam received the news, she sank down with the conviction, There is a God.

There is definitely a God!  And He has many children who care for His children who need help.  Thank heavens!  Thank God!

(The pictures on the left are Pavitra, and Ravi the day they were admitted to the school.  The pictures on the right are them today.  An incredible difference in just a few months!)

Without admission to the Rising Star School, it’s hard to imagine what would have happened to these precious children. Their futures seemed grim, at best.   But now, instead of whatever that might have been, they are blossoming and flourishing.   What a gift sponsorship is to the life of a child!

Learn how to sponsor a child by clicking here.