01 Mar the Feeling of Kindness Gives Back: Hearts for Teachers
Hearts for Teachers provides a quality education for the marginalized children of India’s rural areas.
This is the first in a four-part post about the charities that my jewelry line, the Feeling of Kindness, gives back to, how I came to work with each one and why they have a special place in my heart. Designing jewelry to help children and adults with shelter, education and health services has been a lifelong dream of mine. After some thirty years in the Asian art business I am devoting the next thirty years to do exactly what I want. I have been involved with the four nonprofits I am supporting for some time and I know first-hand about the effectiveness of their work.
And so, my two passions converge with this new venture: a lifetime of collecting semiprecious gems for designing jewelry and a desire to spread a little kindness.
Hearts for Teachers is the newest addition to charities I am giving to but their mission is powerful and impacting. Hearts for Teachers, a new initiative from Little Angels Service Team, is founded by my friend Alison Manzer. We work with St. Vincent DePaul together and met through church here in Austin. I always told her how much I loved India and then an opportunity came along for her to go to India in January of 2018. Alison fell in love.
A group from our church has been supporting students and the school in the village of Pedda Kottala in Telangana, a very rural area, through Little Angels since 2017 and when Alison visited she learned that teachers in this area make a ridiculously low annual salary and for this reason typically leave as soon as they can. Currently, the majority of teachers make $65 a month or less. That is less than day laborers make in the fields of this area.
In the words of my friend Alison:
“The students in attendance at these schools, many of whom are sponsored by Little Angels, are most often very poor and are unable to pay tuition. In turn, the school continually struggles to pay its teachers a living wage. Our goal is to increase the teachers’ salaries by a modest amount per month, and thereby encourage the teachers in their work and improve their lives, as well as the lives of their families.
Our vision is comprehensive. As we move forward, we will strive to support both students and teachers in the hope of creating a solid foundation for educational success in this community.”
India has a multi-tiered school system and public schooling in India is not free and therefore not accessible to poor children in rural areas. From this knowledge Hearts for Teachers was conceived. The original goal was to increase the annual salary of 25 teachers by $600. For some 14 teachers this goal has already been met!!
And so we continue.
In addition to the support of our on-site manager, Hearts for Teachers covers all administrative costs involved in the organization to ensure that 100% of the donated funds go to the teachers. Since January 2018, when Alison started Hearts for Teachers, we have seen improvement in the teacher retention rate in this rural area which adds a key stabilizing component to the children’s lives which encourages the students to break the poverty cycle. It takes relatively little money to make an incredible difference for teachers and children in this rural area.
An amazing illustration of the impact a solid educational background can make on this community is Mounika Bellum. Despite financial pressures to work in the fields, Mounika’s parents were committed to her education. She graduated high school and then went on to get her teaching degree. Today she is dedicated to serving the children in her village school who face similar hardship to hers as a child.
Mounika, now 22, is excitedly awaiting the birth of her first child any day now. While she is gone her school will only be able to afford the wage of the substitute teacher so Mounika will not receive any maternity benefits or wages. Hearts for Teachers is raising money for Mounika to make this new life transition as easy as possible on her and her new baby. If you would like to help you can donate here, where 100% of the raised money will go to Mounika and her child.
Little Angels Service Team was started in 2017 by a small group of men and women and has been going strong ever since, helping students and stabilizing old schools. Little Angels has nonprofit status and channels (via Mother Theresa Charitable Trust) to send funds to the Bank of India which can be a very onerous banking institution but works well. As Hearts for Teachers continue to build momentum it will continue to make lifelong positive changes for this community’s children and the for generations to come.