The Digital Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing IT knowledge and skills to marginalized groups around the globe, recently announced a partnership with Rising Star Outreach to provide computers and training to a leprosy colony school outside Chennai, India.
Started in 2002, Rising Star Outreach is a U.S.-based nonprofit whose mission is to help leprosy colonies become thriving, self-sufficient communities by 2020. The organization’s founding mission was to provide homes and educational opportunities for children with leprosy, some of the neediest children in India.
Quinn Sutton, Digital Alliance Foundation executive director, oversees many altruistic programs and initiatives that his foundations helps, but he was especially struck by Rising Star Outreach’s work.
“What’s interesting about this cause is, for many in India, they view leprosy not as a disease but a curse from God,” Sutton said. “If you have leprosy or someone in your family does, you are affected — you can’t get a job, and you are the lowest of the lowest, so they are literally forced to be beggars.
“What Rising Star Outreach has done is create a boarding school for the children of the infected so they could go to school and get training.”
Because India is a world leader in IT and IT outsourcing, the Digital Alliance Foundation’s help with providing computers and training is even more pertinent, especially as the demand for IT professionals grows.
“In India, there’s a huge IT outsource industry, and they don’t care what caste you come from, they don’t care who you are,” Sutton said. “They just care that you can do the job.”
Additionally, he said such sentiment is poised to eventually dispel many notions about leprosy, a curable disease, in India.
The humanitarian efforts of organizations such as Rising Star Outreach help provide children in leper colonies with the basic needs they need to have a comfortable learning environment, which allows organizations such as the Digital Alliance Foundation to provide computers and eventually training, the results of which will ripple for many years, Sutton said.
“What’s going to happen in one generation is these kids will go from literally beggars, with no choice, no opportunity to becoming one of the highest classes in India, working in the IT sector,” he said.