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Our Story

By Rachel Waldstein, Founder and Director of Tabitha's Heart 

Director Rachel WaldsteinIndia and her people have been my passion and focus for many years. As I worked with international non-profits and short-term teams in Calcutta, God opened my eyes to the desperate plight of the city's street children and called me to make ministering to them my life's work.

I tried to start small. Some Indian volunteers and I began a Sunday afternoon program to reach out to children living in nearby slums. But within weeks, our small venue was boiling with hundreds of street children. As the crowd grew, so did our understanding of their overwhelming needs. These kids live in wretched conditions and sleep in crowded, make-shift shelters or on the ground. Fewer than 2% attend school. They spend their days on the street begging, stealing, or worse. Many of their mothers are widowed or abandoned; their fathers, if present, are often alcoholics or drug addicts. Sunday afternoons alone would not bring the hope and lasting change these children and their families so desperately needed.

In 2006, after two years of building relationships, hard work, and prayer, my small Indian staff and I opened Charisma House, a center focused on meeting the needs of street children and their communities. We began with basic vocational training for the women and Hindi literacy for the children and teens. Having spent most of their lives on the street, the children had a great difficulty sitting for even short periods. But through literacy classes and the center's simple routines and rules, they began to develop discipline and skills that would later allow them to succeed in school.

As word spread and children came daily by the hundreds, we sharpened our focus on education, creating an afternoon literacy program and midday preschool to prepare kids for formal schooling. In the spring of 2007, we enrolled our first 25 street children into local primary schools. Against all odds, they outperformed their peers and ranked consistently Tabitha had a heart for the poor, and so   do we." at the top of their classes!

With a hundred more street children at our center ready and waiting for this same opportunity, in 2007 I founded Tabitha's Heart, a non-profit organization to help fund and support our work. The name comes from chapter 9 of the New Testament book of Acts, which speaks of a disciple named Tabitha “who was always doing good and helping the poor.” Tabitha had a heart for the poor, and so do we.

The ministry of Tabitha's Heart continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Thanks to our many generous child sponsors, we have nearly 300 children enrolled in local primary schools! With the daily tutoring support we provide at our Charisma House youth center, along with much hard work and determination, all of the children have done amazingly well. Other groups attempting to educate street children previously in this area reported a nearly 100% drop-out rate. Thus far, our attrition rate has been less than 3%.

We believe God has helped us see what these children need to succeed and thrive. With your support, we hope to expand our work, bringing hope and lasting change to more of Calcutta's destitute communities... one child at a time.

 

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