By the founder and director of Tabitha’s Heart.
India 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, my eyes were opened to the desperate plight of the city’s street children and ministering to them became my life’s work.
I started small! Some Indian volunteers and I began a weekly 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. Afternoon programs 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 and hard work, 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 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 mid-day 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 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 to help fund and support our work.
The work of Tabitha’s Heart continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Thanks to our many generous child sponsors, we have over 300 children enrolled in local primary schools! With the daily tutoring support we provide at our education centers, along with much hard work and determination, all of the children have done amazingly well.
We 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.
Board of Directors
- LuAnne Basney, Cokato, MN
- Russ Felt, Litchfield, MN
- Jen Hoeft, Hawley, MN
- Trent Nygaard, Cold Spring, MN
- Steve Peters, Litchfield, MN
In addition to being a member of the ECFA, Tabitha’s Heart is accountable to designated leaders in both India and the US, and to both governments. Within India, Tabitha’s Heart is legally registered as an NGO (non-governmental organization) under a trust. As such, we are under the supervision of Indian officials. In the US, Tabitha’s Heart is registered as a 501c3 organization, with a board of directors that oversees our vision, fund-raising, and finances. For a detailed account of our finances, or to see our most recent annual financial report from Minnesota Secretary of State, please contact us.