Dalit Solidarity is an international coalition of educators, health care workers, first responders, human rights advocates and volunteers. We are Dalits and non-Dalits, Indian and non-Indian, students and adults, working together to provide a better life for India's poor.
Dalit Solidarity is committed to the principles of justice and equality for all Indians, regardless of caste, race, gender or religion. This commitment is expressed by providing access to quality health care and education, by making economic opportunities available for India's poorest citizens, and by working to protect human rights.
Dalit Solidarity was formed in 2000, by Benjamin Chinnappan, the youngest of eight children born to a Dalit family living in severe poverty in southern India.
Seven years ago, Dalit Solidarity opened a school for sixteen students. Today, Dalit Solidarity educates over three hundred children beginning in elementary school and continuing through graduate school.
Six years ago Dalit Solidarity opened a ten-bed emergency health clinic. Today, we provide quality health care for over 60,000 villagers living in 36 rural villages covering over 175 square miles in the Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu.
We are in the process of implementing the first computerized system of health care records for all the local villages.
Our widos program has enrolled over 200 members in the first two years. For the first time, these women have been able to share their experiences with other widows, and have learned that they can be productive individuals deserving of dignity and respect.
Approximately 25% of India's 1.1 billion people are Dalits. Most Dalits live in severe poverty, earning less than $0.50 a day. DS works to provide the Dalits and other "backward" caste members with the tools needed to make a better life-education, healthcare, and jobs.
Our work is about access, opportunity and empowerment.
For the past seven years, Dalit Solidarity has worked steadily to provide India’s Dalits with the tools they need to make better lives for themselves and their families. Thousands of Dalits now have access to quality health care. Hundreds of children are being given the opportunity to attend good schools, from elementary through graduate school. Several hundred Dalit widows are learning that they too can be productive members of Indian society, deserving of dignity and respect. We advocate tirelessly on behalf of India’s Dalits, addressing the issues of caste and untouchability, and standing strong for one of the world’s most oppressed populations.
In addition, Dalit Solidarity's Service Adventours program brings travelers to rural southern India to work with India's Dalits; some of the world's most oppressed people. Despite the fact that there are more than 165 million Dalits in India, few people can answer the question, "What is a Dalit"? Our program is designed to build awareness regarding the social injustices faced by the Dalits; to promote activism in the Dalit movement; and to provide resources, both human and financial, for our health care, education, and development programs.
We are now educating over 300 students each year in elementary school, high school, college and graduate school.
Our medical facilities treat over 1500 patients each month, and we opened three new satellite clinics.
70% of our community college graduates found employment within six months after graduation.
We have trained over 150 volunteers to act as First Responders and provide first aid in their villages. We have built over 50 homes for tsunami victims and widows.
Last year was the innaugural year for our Dalit Leadership Academy in which we provide a year of intensive training in academics, communications and leadership skills to help students make a successful transition between primary and secondary school.
We also instituted WACH (Women and Children's Health)–a new health care program focusing on improving the health of women and children by emphasizing preventative health care and utilizing a new software program that provides patients with a probable diagnosis and recommended treatment. Over 13,000 villagers have been registered for the program.
Our Sprouts is beginning its third year of operation. This program designed to improve the lives of Indian widows. Over 200 widows joined the program within the first year.
Service Adventours is our new service/learning program that provides volunteers of all ages with the opportunity to travel to India and work with the Dalits through our various health, education and empowerment programs. Over 53 volunteers from five different universities and two high schools participated in 2008.
Our goals for this year include opening our own English medium school; completing the enrollment of the majority of our villagers in our health care computer data base; expanding our service/learning program to include summer trips; continuing to provide local widows with the tools needed to improve their lives.
Chief Executive Profile
Benjamin Chinnappan has devoted his life to serving India's poor. He established Dalit Solidarity, Inc. to promote justice and equality for all Indians, working toward the realization of his dream of a "caste-less" Indian society.
Ben was the youngest of eight children born to a Dalit family living in severe poverty in southern India. At age twelve, he joined the seminary and 13 years later, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. His vocation eventually brought him to the United States, where he works as a hospital chaplain for the Veterans' Administration.
Fr. Ben's experiences growing up as a Dalit in rural India caused him to become an ardent egalitarian, committed to the principles of justice and equality for all Indians, regardless of caste, race, gender or religion. He has continuously advocated for the proposition that India's caste system is a human rights atrocity that cannot and should not be tolerated, and has spent his life working for its abolition.
Fr. Benjamin Chinnappan's compassion for his fellow Dalits, and his vision of an Indian society in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect led to the creation of Dalit Solidarity, a non-profit organization that like its founder, works to provide justice and equality for all Indians.
Rev. Benjamin Chinnappan
Susan Benedict, DSN, RN, CRNA, FAAN
Elizabeth K. McCoy, Esq.
Donna Mullin, Esq.
PO BOX 112
HINES, IL 60141-0112
Phone: (800) 941-8011
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