Rishi Children’s Fund – Update December 2021

As the year 2021 draws to a close, we approach a time of reflection and thanksgiving. Woven into the fabric of life are joys and sorrows, losses, and gains; but together we can create lasting beauty.

The Rishi Children’s Fund was built with your generosity. Building on the strong partnerships of the Maternal and Child Health Center at the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center, the Fund carries Rishi’s torch, lighting the way for hundreds of underprivileged orphans and vulnerable children who held a special place in Rishi’s heart. With your ongoing support, we can continue to expand our reach and transform the lives of thousands more children.

We thank you for supporting these programs.

The I’mPossible Program

Children born and living with HIV often face the most complicated of challenges including abandonment, economic hardship, and stigmatization that rob them of all dignity and self-confidence.

What is seemingly impossible becomes wondrously possible under the right guidance and circumstances – this is the essence of the I’mPossible Program, envisioned a year ago by the Snehagram leadership, and supported in part by the Rishi Children’s Fund and other benefactors.

Photo credit: Babu Seenappa

The intervention engages peer mentors and helps build resilience among adolescents and youth living with HIV and equips them to lead a healthy and productive adult life by comprehensively addressing their needs on education, health, psychosocial support, vocational training, and life skills acquisition. The I’mPossible Program reaches over 500 youth living with HIV in four districts in the state of Karnataka, India.

This intervention also incorporates the Positive Running Program and the Artful Thinking Program in Snehagram, which was initially conceptualized on 1 July 2021, and is supported by the Rishi Children’s Fund.

“As a young child, I never thought I could live a normal life. Now I realize I have so much to give others, my dream is to provide other children the confidence to live their lives on their own terms.”
– Babu Seenappa, 21 years old, Peer Mentor and Fellow, I’mPossible Program

Youth to Power (Y2P)

Photo credit: Samreen Ansari

While opportunities for growth abound in urban settings, many communities are deeply marginalized and endure harsh lives. The Shiv Vihar settlement in Delhi is a community that is hidden in plain sight. The pandemic deepened their economic vulnerabilities and exposed the already fractured hierarchical and discriminatory social system. Bal Umang Drishya Sanstha (BUDS), a non-profit organization that advances the education, health, and welfare of children in India, is supported by the Rishi Children’s Fund, which helped create the Youth to Power Program. This program empowers marginalized youth, especially adolescent girls and young women, by developing an alternative safe learning process at community-based centers while providing vocational skill development for enhancing livelihood opportunities. The Y2P Program was initiated 22 August 2021.

There are so many barriers that girls face in their lives. But the best part is that there is a lot of change in the girls. Girls who could never go out of the house – today they come in freely to the Center and tell their dreams. I am so happy to see the girls laughing and studying and also keeping safe. I want to thank Rishi Bhaiyya and BUDS for making this happen.
– Samreen Ansari, 22 years old, Chief Mentor, Youth to Power Program

The SHELTER Program (Supporting Health, Education & Livelihood: Towards Empowerment and Resilience)

Photo credit: Aastha Kant

Poverty has a devastating impact on human development and its effects resonate most strongly in young children. The tribal community of Santhals in Boropahari, West Bengal, India, is disempowered and vulnerable, suffering from poor health, low education status, and a limited scope for work and economic growth. The SHELTER initiative is led by the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians with support from the Rishi Children’s Fund. The program seeks to create a direct and positive impact in this community by providing opportunities for education for children, enhancing population health and nutrition status, and building capacity through skills training for economic development.

When I grow older, I want to become a nurse like the Didi who looked after my mother when she was ill. But first I want to learn Hindi and English and go to school everyday.
– Rukhina, 8 years old

At the Maternal and Child Health Center, we are committed to building sustainable partnerships, bound together with the common goal of improving health of children and whole communities. Your generosity to the Rishi Children’s Fund has helped us build those strong collaborations and directly impact hundreds of lives. If you would like to expand your support of this work, you can make an additional gift here.

Thank you, once again, for honoring Rishi’s memory.

Sincerely,

Mathu Santosham