“…tons of stuff going on in the slums, between the dysentery outbreak, organizing new volunteers, preparing for other potential emergencies that can surface during the monsoons and keeping up with the regular reports on FB, I’m out of time! And we convinced the women who run the birth control clinic we work with to come to the slum today and speak with all the young women about prevention options, this could be good.. Anyway, this is where we are in the school process.. you ALL have a hand in it, and for that all of us in Kolkata are eternally grateful :)” Hemley Gonzalez
Dear friends and supporters of Responsible Charity,
We want to begin by sending out a huge virtual hug to the hundreds of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists and yes, even religious and spiritual supporters around the world who made the first round of our school fundraiser a success.
We also want to acknowledge our friends at The Roxbury Foundation, The Foundation Beyond Belief and every single board member of our charity who works tirelessly behind the scene to spread awareness of our work around the world.
Last but not least a very special mention of our appreciation goes out to a courageous 14 year old named Daniel, whose fundraising efforts in March aided by our board member Tracy McPherson helped us achieve the remaining funds needed for our initial goal of $25,000 and most recently to Seth Andrews, the creator of: The Thinking Atheist whose currently ongoing fundraiser has already reached over $9,000 of its $15,000 goal!
All of the achievements above will help in building our first secular school for underprivileged children as well as other projects in the slums of Kolkata, India.
The need for a center is imperative. The location will serve as a preparatory school to coach as many children as we can handle (our aim, depending on space and resources is between 125-200 children regardless of caste or religion from the ages of 4-15 years old). We are looking to establish a special one-year course which will focus on basic alphabets – Bengali/Hindi & English – math, science, classroom etiquette, etc. This curriculum will prepare each child for subsequent placement in well-established schools so that they can continue on to higher education. The space will also serve as storage for supplies and donated items, a quiet and private meeting location for volunteers and the parents of the children who are often in need of help themselves pertaining a wide range of issues such as: medical emergencies, job opportunities and family planning.
The $25,000USD raised so far will provide the foundation for one of two options:
- A long term lease (2-5 years as it is customary in the city) or
- Purchase of a small space
Neither option above comes easily or without strings. The caste and class separation system is alive and well and many landlords are instantly reluctant to allow children from the slums to come to their locales, even if the organization meets the financial obligations of the space. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and one of the main reasons holding us back from finding a suitable location. Kolkata is a hotbed of contradictions, bureaucracy, clashing religions and home to a population of more than 14 million people (and growing) it also ranks consistently in the top 10 of largest polluted cities in the world, it has a high unemployment rate and yet, so many of its residents wake up daily with inexplicable and abundant hope and joy, managing to coexists within the boundaries of a slowly dying caste system in the face of a rapidly and advancing society marked by a desire to align itself with many traits of the lifestyles of the West.
Once a space is located a yearly and ongoing operating budget of $40,000 – $45,000USD should meet the needs of a full-fledged center which includes:
- Qualified teachers
- Operating staff
- Books and study copies, uniforms, desks, chairs, storage shelves, partitions, additional furniture, school supplies, etc.
- Multipurpose vehicle for transportation of staff, students, medical emergencies
- Nutritional programs
- Medical programs
- Job initiative programs
- Volunteer programs
In less than two years since we began our work, Responsible Charity has been able to achieve quite a lot with often small donations from around the world. Take a look at some of the highlights:
- Placed almost two dozen children in private schools while we wait to have our own center.
- Created a nutritional program which delivers much needed formula every two weeks to a dozen children and toddlers.
- Created a growing hygienic program which delivers lice treatments, shampoo, soaps, toothpaste and other items to now more than 200 children, men and women.
- Have begun a birth control and Planned Parenthood program, already 5 young mothers have had procedures and many others are waiting to join.
- Hired a nurse to visit the slums on a regular basis and address minor to moderate medical issues, directly helping many families who don’t go to government hospitals for fear of being turned away and lack of resources to buy often expensive prescriptions.
- Built 10+ homes from the ground up.
- Continue to address issues in the home structures such as leaks and repairs.
- Have covered a myriad of specific medical emergencies such as a birth, a burned two year old boy’s complete and remarkable recovery, saving a man’s leg from a fractured bone, ongoing full range support for a boy with Thalassemia and more.
- Began a monthly salary program with a mother to allow her daughter to go to school
- Created a city-wide clothes donation program which clothes families in need and allows for women to sell the remaining items to earn money for their families.
- Have received many donations of bags, toys, medical equipment and other items from dozens of tourists who have visited Kolkata and have learned about us and our work.
- Several outing events for the children including a holiday party which fed 100+ people
- Ongoing coverage of the cost of most prescriptions, blood, urine and stool tests, X rays, tuberculosis treatment and prescription glasses
- Stoves and fans for over a dozen homes
- Direct and on-going collaboration with other secular charities working on the ground: financial aid and supplies provided to them.
- Initiated several loans to working mothers for self-sufficiency businesses and programs.
- Digital records now in place for almost 30 families (200+ individuals)
If you haven’t yet, please consider becoming a monthly donor. It doesn’t matter what amount you can commit to, but the consistency of your financial support will allow us to manage our costs and budgets without surprises. You can sign up to make a monthly donation for up to 12 months through our site; it is fast, safe and easy! Here’s the link:
From all of us on the ground in Kolkata and all of our board members from all over the world: THANK YOU once again for your support!
Hemley Gonzalez, Founder
Responsible Charity Corp.