While visiting India 2001, our founder, Becky Douglas, observed and witnessed some people living in deplorable conditions. Worst of all were the leprosy-affected, who would approach her, begging for help. When she returned to the United States, she was so haunted by those images; she knew she had to act. She called four close friends and around her kitchen table they quietly formed Rising Star Outreach.
In April of 2004 Rising Star Outreach of India (RSOI) was officially registered and recognized as a Company, under Section 25 of the Companies Act. A pre-school was opened for 27 children from leprosy colonies. Organized under the Women India Association (WIA) - RSOI it also provided board and care for the children. The success of the pre-school was stunning, and in 2005 a second pre-school was rented and opened for 20 additional colony children, operating under the same WIA - RSOI. RSOI has repeatedly been commended for the high standard of care and excellence maintained in the pre-schools.
In 2007 Rising Star Outreach of India received its FCRA registration.
As word got out among the leprosy colonies of the Rising Star Outreach Pre-schools, the waiting list began to grow until it became clear that there was a significant need for a permanent facility. In November 2005 Rising Star Outreach purchased 15.5 acres of land, following an 18- month search. Construction began in October 2006, and a permanent school for the children was built. Our beautiful full Rising Star Outreach campus was dedicated in 2010.
The School was officially registered as the Peery Matriculation School in 2007, and now offers complete education from UKG to 12th Standard. It is comprised of the Peery Matriculation Primary School, the Peery Matriculation Secondary School and the Peery Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
The Rising Star Outreach campus has excellent infrastructure, offering safe living quarters capable of accommodating 250 children at beautiful hostels, comfortable quarters for staff and visitors, a dining room and multipurpose hall, and a meditation center. It is a place of learning, joy, peace, and beauty that is operated by 114 dedicated staff.
While Rising Star Outreach was happy to have found a way to successfully provide education for the children of leprosy victims, the suffering of their families who remained behind in the colonies could not be ignored. Rising Star started taking rice and beans to the colonies each month in order to provide them with basic sustenance.
This however was only a temporary solution. Rising Star recognized the need to help the people learn to provide for themselves. That goal was realized in June of 2003 when they met Mrs. Padma Venkataraman while working in the colonies. The daughter of India's former president, Mrs. Padma Venkataraman was already well known throughout India for her pioneering work facilitating self-reliance projects in leprosy colonies.
Mrs. Padma oversaw the creation of the Rising Star Outreach Colony Development Project. Its purpose was two-fold; to create economic self-reliance and to provide critically needed colony infrastructure such as toilets, clean water, community centers and learning centers.
Economic self-reliance was facilitated by Women’s Self-help groups who worked with individuals to help them create small businesses so that they could become productive citizens and leave their life of begging behind. Hundreds of small businesses began to flourish. As the families in the colonies began to become self-sufficient, they were able to combine their resources and address other pressing infrastructure issues of the colonies. Rising Star Outreach of India assisted them in these efforts. It was very rewarding for them to have a viable alternative to begging, to create necessary colony infrastructure and to rise above the stigma of their disease.
As the colonies began to improve their economic situation, the primary challenge they faced was the lack of consistent medical care. Access to hospitals was difficult, both logistically and due to their social stigma. RSOI responded to this problem in March 2005 with the initiation of our first mobile medical unit. Finally, the severely disabled leprosy victim’s problem of being unable to leave the colony for adequate medical care was resolved.
Run completely by a team of excellent Indian doctors, the unit travels to the colonies on a regular basis and provides leprosy screening, medicines for treatment, and wound and ulcer care. Through a partnership with local hospitals we are able as well to provide medical/ surgical treatment for both leprosy and non-leprosy related elements. In 2014 a second unit was initiated in the Trichy area.
The prime objective of Rising Star Outreach of India was to see a day when those affected by leprosy are no longer consigned to begging on the streets but can instead enjoy a life of dignity and productivity as they become productive citizens of India. The children will have the opportunity to develop their talents and excel through receiving an excellent education. As they are mainstreamed into regular society, they will be enabled to break out of the stigma they have previously lived under.
Economic and environmental rehabilitation through economic self-reliance programs and colony infrastructure development activities.
Providing health care through mobile medical clinics.
Providing a world-class education for children of leprosy colonies through UKG-12th standards at the Peery Matriculation Schools, through the Perpetual Educational Grant Program, mentoring programs and through scholarships to college.