India's Untouchable Dalits

Dalit Freedom Network Canada is committed to freeing the Dalits from a life of poverty, exploitation, and slavery through education, healthcare, and economic development.

  • Heather Davies has been suffering from a brain injury for the past two years. But instead of letting her suffering get the best of her, she’s used it as inspiration. This February, Heather hosted “The Beauty from Ashes Gala” to celebrate her 30th birthday and to raise funds for organizations that support women and children, including Dalit Freedom Network.

    “I wanted to use my suffering and what everyone has done for me to help alleviate the suffering of others,” she explains. She is passionate about helping women as their suffering affects so many others. “These aren’t “women’s issues” they are “human issues”,” she says.

    “I chose Dalit Freedom Network because I have such a profound respect for the organization. I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Beryl speak at Dalit Freedom Network's Hope for Dalit Women Dinner in October 2014 and it stirred my heart. I am deeply touched by the story of the Dalits.”  

    Heather’s gala featured a fantastic dinner, a silent auction, speakers from the benefiting organizations, live music and henna. In total, the evening raised over $5,000 to help Dalit women and children, with money still coming in!

    She is passionate about making a difference and says she feels compelled to continue.

    “These [sufferings] are not a picture of a thriving world, and what I have a heart for is to stop suffering and bring hope and thriving to all of humanity and the world. I picked this issue because I believe if we see women start to thrive globally and locally we will see the world thrive together.”

    Thank you for using your birthday to support Dalit women and children, Heather!

  • Nineteen-year-old Sruti is a college student in Telangana. A few months ago she came to our Good Shepherd Clinic, confused as to why she was often tired and unable to actively participate in class. Our physician determined she was HIV positive. Sruti was devastated.

    “I’m ruined,” she said. “There is nothing left to look forward to.”

    Sruti then told the doctor that her father had died of AIDS so she knew it was a killer disease. She had recognized the signs of HIV in herself, but assumed she would either be refused treatment at a clinic because she was a Dalit or it would be too expensive.

    Thanks to our Hope for Dalit Women dinner last October, Sruti received medical care at our local clinic, ensuring she does not have to add the worry of expensive treatments to her health concerns.

    Our Good Shepherd Clinic started her on Antiretroviral therapy and provided her with counselling regarding living with HIV. She is now back at school, and working part time in order to maintain her economic independence. She dreams of becoming a nurse.

    Because of our Hope for Dalit Women dinner, over 26,000 patients like Sruti will receive medical care.

  • Mithila Painting is a type of folk painting from Northern India, characterized by intricate geometric patterns. Centuries old, it is still mostly practiced by women. They paint with their fingers, nib-pens, matchsticks, brushes and natural dyes and pigments to create images that are usually based on mythology, folk themes and pastoral symbols.

    Traditionally, Dalit women were not allowed to learn this kind of painting.

    We are changing this with a course that is teaching 22 Dalit women (including Musahar women, also known as the “rat eaters”) how to create their own Mithila paintings. After years of being denied the privilege of making this kind of art, it took a lot of encouragement to convince the Dalit women they could do it. Today they make beautiful paintings that capture contemporary issues in Indian society: violence against women and children, poverty, child labour, Dalit issues and women’s empowerment. 

  • This month, we are celebrating International Women's Day (March 8, 2015) in a special way. Thanks to you, Dalit Freedom Network is sponsoring five celebrations around India (Gujarat, Orissa, Bihar, and two in Uttar Pradesh) for the women involved in our Hope for Dalit Women projects.

     

    The United Nations official theme for International Women's Day 2015 is "Empowering Women- Empowering Humanity: Picture it!" Our events will discuss women's rights and equality and how to prevent abuse, provide legal advice on crimes against women and talk about God's love, forgiveness and spritual empowerment.

  • We often come across stories in the news about the Dalits. These articles keep us aware of the struggles Dalits face on a daily basis. Click on the links below to read recent articles, or follow us on Twitter to receive links as we post them.

    Tackling Violence Against Women in India – Day 2 : Lynne Featherstone, UK Ministerial Champion for Violence Against Women and Girls, recently visited a Dalit community in Madhya Pradesh. Read her blog post about her experience here.

    India Child Labour – 200 Children Rescued in Hyderabad Raids – According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Labor, there are approximately 4.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are believed to be working. Many of these children are Dalits. Recently, there have been a series of raids on factories in Hyderabad, with hundreds of child labourers discovered.

     

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