Amistad’s work in India supports children’s education and health. Over the years, we’ve supported several schools and programs for children starting in the 1990’s when we began helping Little Stars School in Varanasi, India and Sweet Home Orphanage, Narsapur, South India.
In 2003 we began to focus most of our India support toward health and education for the children of beggars, lepers, sex workers and other socially outcast communities. In 2005 we helped to open the Soma Home for school-age daughters of sex workers in the red-light district of Kolkata under the direction of New Light, a community-based non-profit for the care and education of the children of sex workers. In the early 2000’s we began our on-going support of Buddha’s Smile School (BSS).
Buddha’s Smile School
Buddha’s Smile School is a tuition-free elementary school for 220 Dalit (untouchable caste) children in Varanasi, U.P, India. They welcome students who would otherwise be unable to attend school. Most are from beggar or garbage-collecting families who live in humble rag and plastic shanties. Many of the children beg or collect garbage before and after school in order to help their families survive. Since many children live at a distance, BSS has two school buses which provide the children’s transportation.
In 2016 Amistad built a daycare center for the tiny siblings of students who had been missing classes in order to care for them while their mothers worked. Now the older children can bring their young siblings to the care center while they can attend classes.
The BSS children, often victims of feral dog bite, burns, and violence, are provided medical care. They are given a daily nutritious meal, and for some this is their only meal of the day. BSS also supports their students who go on to high school, and some to college.