Smashing misconceptions in Kodaikanal, India

Gender discrimination happens no matter where you live. Despite the efforts of the United Nations and many other organizations all over the world, this form of discrimination is still persistent in all areas of public and private life around the world today.

Our partners at our sites work diligently in their communities to break the many barriers caused by gender discrimination. Through workshops, information sessions and resources given to parents of sponsored children, progress is being made, especially in improving educational opportunities for girls.

Caregivers of our sponsored children are placed in small groups of 15-20 people (mostly mothers) called Family Circles. Members rely on this support network and learn important life skills like financial literacy, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Before sponsorship, families living in Kodaikanal at our Madurai sponsor site in India thought educating girls wasn’t important, and only educated boys until grade eight because they thought that higher learning was unnecessary. Most native residents in this area are caretakers of estates, the tradition being passed down from the time of British rule. As time passed, they became bonded labourers to landlords for many decades.  Generations of dependency developed, and people lost the desire to acquire technical skills. Educational institutions were out of their reach, and they didn’t understand how to save money for their children’s education.

Through the support of sponsorship, families learned that their children could dream of a better life and actually achieve it. They became motivated to send their children to school, and now, sponsored children are studying at university with dreams of becoming nurses, teachers, and other professionals.

At the same time, their parents, through the support of their circle groups, are saving money and learning new skills to help them live better lives. Every month they gather together and discuss their budgets, their children’s education, sanitation, and family development. The families are so thankful to their sponsors for supporting their children and creating significant change in their life.

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