India today faces a unique crisis. While its economy grows and flourishes, millions of people are being left behind without access to the same standards of education and opportunity as the more fortunate. Today, over 75% of India’s population lives on less than $2 per day*. 1 in 9 people in the world live in an Indian village. The gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow – unless something is done about it.
Shanti Bhavan educates the most socially and economically disadvantaged children of rural India. We believe that children of poverty are no different than more fortunate children and, if given access to quality education, they will realize their full potential. Our children come from meager backgrounds, primarily of the ‘untouchable’ – Dalit – caste. There are nearly 300 million people who are in the lowest level of caste system of India. Without the intervention of an education, these children are destined to a future of abuse, social segregation and discrimination.
Shanti Bhavan attempts to erase the barriers of caste and offers equal opportunity to these gifted, but deprived, children. Our children are selected at the age of 4 and remain at the school until the completion of their high school. They have been chosen to be the first in generations of their caste to receive an education. Once in college, Shanti Bhavan continues to support them financially and oversees their progress through a careful mentoring program.
The children of Shanti Bhavan, once educated, will be able to help their families and communities break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and become successful and productive members of society. Having risen from the depths of poverty, our children aspire to achieve their best so they can support their families and communities. Shanti Bhavan can mean the answer to a better and brighter future for the poor.
As Abraham George, the founder of Shanti Bhavan has said, “If one child is successful, he or she will carry a thousand more forward.”