Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Video: The Light in their Eyes

Ann shares her love of the Volunteer Program, especially the medical rotation. She has been able to see the change and the light in the eyes of the volunteers and the patients they serve.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Indian Independance Day

August 15th was Independence Day here in India, celebrating 67 years of independence from the British Empire. The students practiced for many days marching round and round the track under the hot sun so they could perform well for their Independence Day program.

On the morning of Independence Day as teachers, housemothers, and volunteers came out for the festivities, each person was given a small Indian flag to pin on their shirt. There were two beautiful rangolies decorating the school grounds near the flagpole.

Each "house"--Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz, and Ruby--marched around the track in time to a steady drum beat provided by Vimal (10th Standard).

Then there was a drill done by each house and multiple pyramids by boys and girls groups. Some of these were quite thrilling to watch and we all held our breaths until it was complete. We are glad to say that no one was hurt! Phew!

We were so lucky to have Sara Garrett, niece of Rising Star President Sally Read, as our guest of honor and speaker.  Sarah was here as a session volunteer with two of her children. She gave a beautiful speech about independence and freedom and was honored with a ribbon garland and a beautiful scarf.

They definitely saved the best (or funniest) for last...dancing by the younger children. It was SO fun and absolutely delightful to watch them shimmy and shake as they followed their teachers' movements. What adorable little children we have at Rising Star!


Happy Indian Independence Day!
--Rebecca Young

Friday, August 22, 2014

News: Celebrating Madras Day: So many reasons to love Chennai, modern India's first city
by Adrija Bose  Aug 22, 2014 14:35 IST
See Article HERE

The first city of modern India, Chennai, is celebrating its 375th birthday this week. The southern city will celebrate Madras Week by dedicating seven days to the history, culture and traditions of the city.
Chennai, then Madras was founded on 22 August, 1639. It commemorates the founding of the city by establishing Fort St George on a small piece of land acquired from the last King of Chandragiri in 1639 by the British East India Company.

Rechristened Chennai in 1996, the capital of Tamil Nadu is now home to more than 4 million people.
The idea of Madras Day was born when a group of Madras lovers got together a few years ago to celebrate the city, its history, traditions and culture.  

Though called the Madras Week, the event, which started off as a half-a-day Madras Day celebration 11 years ago, has grown into a 'Madras month' with festivities and events planned through August and a bit of September.

Madras Week festivities will include heritage walks, photo exhibitions, lectures and quizes to commemorate 375 years of Madras.

One of the many unique activities being organised are heritage cycle rides by Chennai-based group Cycling Yogis. A DNA report notes that this group has in the past, charted out heritage rides to places that have Chola, Pallava or colonial histories in and around Chennai in areas such as Royapuram, Anna Salai (Mount Road), Chepauk, Triplicane, Mylapore, Pulicat, Mahabalipuram etc during special occasions like Republic Day, World Heritage Day and the Madras Day.

The Madras Day celebrations and all the bash culminates each year with the Madras Quiz, separately in Tamil and English. This is facilitated by the Mylapore Times.

There's in fact a Facebook page dedicated for the event too. Take a look here.
What do people living in Madras love about the city? For some, it's the beach and the sunset. As Baradwaj Rangan writes in this The Hindu piece, "Madras, to me, is the beaches of my childhood, the mornings filled with huffing walkers and the distant tang of fish being hauled in and, above it all, a sun that rises as it does nowhere else."

For some, it's the kanjivaram sarees, the idlis and the filter coffee.

Madras is one one of the oldest cities.  Kolkata is 50 years younger than Madras and Bombay is about 35 years younger. 

Chennai Corporation, the oldest municipal body in India, was established in 1688.
A historian, S Muthiah, told CNN-IBN, "...for the first 150 years, Madras was the chief settlement and it was here that almost virtually everything in modern India - the first municipality, the first technical school, the first western style of Education - began. After that they grew elsewhere but the beginnings were in this city."

Medical with Summer Session 4

As the summer nears to a close, we bid farewell to David McLaughlin, our Medical Coordinator for the summer. In addition to leading our session volunteers in the medical rotation every day, David created many friendships with patients in the colonies and among the medical staff. He has given so much of his time and effort to Rising Star and we are grateful for his service.  

Session 4 was able to accompany Rising Star Outreach’s mobile clinic to several leprosy colonies and work in treating the patients there by washing their wounds and attending to medical check-ups. 

“I love seeing how happy the people in the colony are, even when they are living a life that most people think hard” said Emilee Matheson.  

Kincaid Garrett said,  
“It’s sometimes hard to see their ulcers, but it’s good to know that we are helping them get better. The people are so proud and kind to us, hugging and kissing us, and are happy all the time.” 

Kincaid came to Rising Star Outreach with his mom and sister and says that the medical rotation was an “amazing experience.” 

This session saw the departure of Heather Horak, our volunteer physical therapist, who has been working hard with the leprosy patients in the colony. The loss of limbs and deformations caused by leprosy can create lasting problems for the patient in walking and working. Heather Horak helped the patients strengthen their limbs with exercises and receive assistive devices when they needed them. Heather also taught our campus nurses classes on physical therapy so that they can continue treating the leprosy patients after she has left. Rising Star Outreach is grateful for her selfless service for the leprosy patients here in India.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Christraj

This video was posted on April 15, 2009. See Christraj in his UKG days talking on a rock that he is using as an imaginary cellphone.  

A Family Experience with the Jones'

Our family really enjoys doing service. In Rising Star Outreach, our family not only found a place to do service, but to also show love and do so much more. We have had the opportunity to work in the schools with the children. We have helped construct bathrooms for those who did not have a bathroom accessible to them. We have also had the privilege of working with those afflicted with leprosy. These experiences have penetrated our hearts and brought about such a change in each one of us. Here are a few ways in which each of us has been touched.

Micheal: We as a family came to India to touch others lives. Instead these wonderful people have touched our lives. I have found a great capacity for love here. Thanks you.

Claudette: I came here to help others. I came to help bring about change in these peoples circumstances and their lives. I see now that as I looked into the sweet eyes of a child or held the crippled led of a man afflicted with leprosy, I was filled with great love and a deep sense of understanding and compassion. I came to help change the lives of others and in the process I was changed for the better. There are not words the describe my gratitude for this experience.

Jocelyn: My experience at Rising Star Outreach is one I will never forget. It offered me the opportunity to look outside myself and serve the humble people in India. Furthermore, it truly helped me to dig deep within myself and discover the changes I needed to make in my life to reach my full potential. The friendships I made here are priceless and I can’t wait to come back to India!

Alicia: It was an amazing experience! I loved it! It really opened my eyes to how difficult people’s lives are, yet they stay happy! I love and appreciate this organization for what it does for people with leprosy, and the children.

Lindsey: I loved helping the children spell and sound out words. They love to learn, you can really tell. Everyone has a sweet spirit and it takes an impact on yourself. It makes you want to be kind, selfless, and helpful. You WANT to be a better person.

Adam: I have had a great time at Rising Star Outreach. I love doing service for people all over the world. It’s really fun teaching the kids because they get so excited to be with us. When we go to work at the colony work site and medical colony, we get to see and work with really neat people.

Zack: My greatest experience is that they don’t complain. They are happy. They are grateful for what they have. I have made lost of really great friends. I love Rising Star Outreach.

Indeed we have found a place to serve, to love, and to share in Rising Star Outreach! We love the quote “Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort” Author Unknown. We came and gave effort and found great joy. This experience is “worth” having. We are leaving here with hearts full of love and gratitude for all of these people.
--The Jones Family

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Run for Charity: The Invasion Run 9.5.14

Support past volunteers Steve and Jessica Hart who are putting on their 2nd Annual 5K Invasion Run here in Provo, UT on Septeber 5th, 2014.

My name is Steve Hart. In 2011 my wife (Jessica) and I had the life changing opportunity to spend a summer in Chennai with Rising Star Outreach.  Our time there and the people we met mean so much to us we want to give back in whatever way we can. We have started a community 5k in Provo Utah called the Invasion Run. It is an alien themed 5k through a corn field. The proceeds from the race will be donated to Rising Star Outreach. We hope you will support us in supporting them as we try and give leprosy a "run" for its money. To learn more visit us at or see our facebook page at

Registration is still open until September 3rd, 2014. Cost is $30 per runner and you receive a T-Shirt, Race Bib and Packets.  Don't forget to dress up!  This is a fun night for the whole family!

Here are some pictures from last year: