Luckily for us at Outreach International, our field operations team plays a big role in supporting each community we work in.
Last December, the team of two geared up to travel to India with our CEO. For Andrea Read, our assistant director of field operations and resident go-getter, this was an exciting opportunity. Never having traveled to India, she was ready to embark on a new adventure and get her hands dirty.
When they landed in the world’s second-most populous country, it was off to Outreach’s education program in Gumiguda. And after a bumpy, 5½ hour drive through rural India, Andrea couldn’t wait to see what was in store for them.
“We parked, and as I rounded the edge of the car, I could see all the children lined up at the gate of the school. They were greeting us with smiles, dancing and waving,” said Andrea.
The joy radiating from more than 200 children at the Gumiguda school was infectious. After spending only minutes there, Andrea couldn’t help but be overcome with happiness, too. But it wasn’t until she spent a bit more time with them that she came to understand why.
Before her journey began, Andrea was interested to see how the infamous, former caste system would play a part in Outreach communities. Although it has been abolished for decades, tension and discrimination between castes still remains today.
But to her surprise, she didn’t find evidence of the caste system in Gumiguda, or in any other Outreach communities in India. Even though multiple groups attend the Gumiguda school, Andrea says they’re indistinguishable.
After spending some time in the community, it didn’t take long for her to recognize the strong relationships between teachers and students, and the affinity the children had for one another.
“The sense of love and community was overwhelming,” said Andrea. “They were like one big family.”
It was Outreach in action. Staff and teachers in the community have taught children to work together and love one another. And not surprisingly, it works.
Not only did they create a friendly, loving environment; they’ve also proven it to be successful. Test scores in Gumiguda, as a whole, are higher than national test scores, and 100 percent of students passed their high school entrance exams.
Andrea says getting a great education as a child and learning to work together with others is part of the recipe for breaking the cycle of poverty. Children are becoming equipped with the tools they need for success as adults.
Outreach staff encourages the people we serve to take what they’ve learned and share it when they encounter others outside their villages.
Spreading the word is the next step in ending poverty. And slowly but surely, we’re getting there. And we’re making a big impact along the way.
See more of our education projects here.