Vol State Students Make a Difference with India Travel-Study

Submitted on April 18, 2011 at 9:15 AM

The children are the forgotten souls, street kids, left to fend for themselves in Jaipur, India. Vol State students Dana Vick and Tina Newman of Gallatin met them during a travel study visit to the Taabar Center in 2010. The experience changed their lives.

"Taabar is an organization that literally goes out on the streets of India and rescues these children from physical and sexual abuse," said Vick. "Taabar gives them a home and safety."

"The main goal is to get them reunited with their parents," said Newman. "But many of them have to stay there until that happens. It's just like the movie "Slumdog Millionaire", but a whole lot worse."

Even while still in India, the two students discussed ways they could help Taabar. They came back to Tennessee with a plan for action. That work has gone to new levels this spring. They formed a non-profit group called Taabar 2, bringing in not only other Vol State students, but people from across the area. The goal of the group is to raise awareness and funds to help the center.

"We have a sponsorship program where people can sponsor a child," Vick said. "It will go for medical and educational needs. Many of the children either have HIV or an STD. Every child has a medical exam when they go in."

They returned for the third time in March, accompanied for this travel study trip by Vol State faculty members Connie Martin and John Osborne. The goal is to document as much as possible about the center, and bring the information back to stimulate discussions and projects in classes across campus and in many different subjects. It's part of an overall effort to internationalize the curriculum, spearheaded by the International Education program at Vol State.

"We did video of their classes and interviews with the kids and directors," Newman said.

"What we collected is going to be used in history, art, sociology and psychology classes at Vol State, just to name a few."

"This trip afforded us experiences that you simply cannot experience in the classroom," said Martin. "Interacting with a ten year old child whose job was selling trinkets from the end of the school day until one am in the morning was moving. Everyone was so happy to greet us and interact with us, and not one of them expected anything from us. It was simply amazing. I am forever changed."

Taabar 2 will be holding a fundraiser 5K run and walk on Saturday, May 14 starting at 8 a.m. at the Gallatin Civic Center. To register visit www.active.com and search for Taabar or e-mail trish.hibbard@hotmail.com. You can also visit Taabar 2 on www.facebook.com


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