The time has arrived! Pending the receipt of my visa, I am returning to work with Promethean Spark International in India!
For those of you that know me, you have heard about this program many times over, but for those of you that are ‘new’ here is a little background:
Promethean Spark International
Promethean Spark International is an NGO that “teach(s) essential life skills to impoverished youth worldwide through training in the performing arts; (breaking the cycle of poverty by inspiring change from within).” PSI currently has programs in Costa Rica, Kenya (which they are currently making some amazing expansions too), and India. www.prometheanspark.org for more information.
I am so excited to be returning to the Tamil Nadu district of Southern India to work with the leprosy-affected students at the Rising Star School in Thottanaval as well as with leprosy patients in several colonies in this region. In the words of Shaun Parry (President and Founder of PSI):
“Discipline, focus, concentration, respect, goal-setting, perseverance…these are the tools needed to succeed in school, a job or any endeavor in life. This is what we teach—through dance. Joining hands with Rising Star Outreach of India, Promethean Spark International has succeeded in establishing much needed outreach programs in the Tamil Nadu District of Southern India. Working with hundreds of individuals from various leprosy colonies and the leprosy-affected students at the Rising Star School in Thottanaval (a small village 2 hrs south of Chennai) we have been able to institute year-round programs teaching life skills through the arts. Besides working with the young people, we are thrilled to be able to reach out to the parents and grandparents in the leprosy colonies with a movement therapy program. You should see the joy and light in their faces as they discover themselves in ways they never dreamed possible.
In 2009 we created the first ever dance troupe created out of youth from leprosy colonies. This 20 member company, the LifeDance Troupe, are taking their motto “Heal the World~Leaders for Life” very seriously. On World Leprosy Day 2011, history was made when these courageous teens performed live at a luxury hotel (the Chennai Marriott) with David Archuleta (American Idol), Stacey Tookey (So You Think You Can Dance) and Shaun Parry (Broadway) in front of VIPs, paparazzi and news and media cameras. Never before in the history of the world has this happened. Since then they have performed for over 10,000, lifting the stigma of leprosy from the minds of the people. They are truly modern-day pioneers who are being the change they want to see in the world.”
The PS program is continuing to grow and change the lives of the participants and students of the LifeDance Troupe are in turn making a positive and lasting change in their communities, India, and the world.
LIFE-DANCE TROUPE Making History
Here is a great video captured by Evan Carpenter as he follows Gracie from Life Dance Troupe on their most recent and largest endeavor yet, performing for 5000 people in Bangalore. It is especially wonderful because not only do you get to see into the life of one of the most amazing young women I have ever met, but it also gives you an idea of the impact of the program. It is not just about providing a fun class, it is about giving these individuals the resources and life skills to attain anything they hope to accomplish.
Hopefully, with all of that you have a better sense of the program, but please feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment with more questions. If I do not have the answer, I will do everything I can to find out for you.
I’M GOING TO INDIA!
Unfortunately, I cannot stay for 3 months like I did on my first trip, but I will be volunteering for the month of June to help restart the program at the school and in the colonies after their summer break. I will also be transitioning/helping train a new volunteer that will be taking over for the remainder of the summer. I think about these children constantly and often wake up having dreamt about them in my sleep. They are amazing individuals and this program gives them the potential to shine like the stars that they are. I am ecstatic that I can return and can’t wait to hear all of the “auntie!” “auntie!” calls of all the kids.
YOU CAN HELP
Here is the part where you can help 🙂 Family, friends, friends of friends, were all amazing and helped me fundraise enough to make my first trip possible. Luckily, this time around I have been able to keep costs much lower by living slightly closer and by taking advantage of the wonderful world of air miles. There are still costs such as my visa, airport taxes, and supplies. Even more so, there will be the costs of the volunteer after me and the volunteer after that. Covering these costs makes it possible for qualified professionals to travel to India, leave their jobs or decline work, and live without pay to help continue running the program full time. Even $1 makes a difference, so I would like to take this opportunity to ask for donations on behalf of Promethean Spark International. I am personally grateful because these donations will make it a little more palatable for me to be volunteering right before heading back to grad school, but more so because I care about this program tremendously. It is people like Shaun Parry that are truly changing the world by creating programs such as Promethean Spark International. I personally have been inspired to follow a similar path with my work and I hope that you are able to contribute to the pursuit of changing lives in some way too.
No donation amount is insignificant. Like I said, $1 makes a difference. Of course $20 or $100 helps that much more. I thank you in advance for your help in making programs like this possible. If you can, here is the link: Donate Here. Your donations will go directly through Promethean Spark International and are Tax Deductible. Your funds will be used to continue running programs like the one in India and assist with expanding this and other PS outreach programs. If a certain project or aspect of PSI touches you, you can send a note on the Contact Us page specifying your donation be used for that specific purpose.
SPREAD THE WORD
While financial giving is an important part of helping, spreading the word and helping recruit volunteers for the cause is also significant. The program in India alone requires a full time dance instructor to run the program year round. This must be a qualified and well trained individual who is willing and able to travel to India and give 100%. With the expansions in Kenya, there is a growing need for volunteers similarly qualified. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact PSI, or pass this on to someone you think might be interested (after all that is how I found out about it!). Even if you are not a dancer/teacher, but think you might have some skills to contribute there are plenty of ways to “lend a helping hand.” No offer is too small, so please feel free to contact the organization with more information about you and your desire to be involved.
Lastly, but certainly not least…SHARE!!! With social media these days, word can travel so quickly. Share this post, the webpage, and what PSI is all about. If it wasn’t for facebook and friends of friends, I wouldn’t have heard about PSI at the time I did and would not have had the opportunity to get involved when I did. It has changed my life, and I know I was able to affect the lives of others through my experience. Share and you too can be a link in that chain.
When the time comes I will be posting updates on the blog in the new section I have created Life Skills in India.
Thank you for the support, love, and sharing this journey.