Jackson, NJ 08527, USA
Rosalie Giffoniello, Co-founder
Currently there are three Preyrona Schools operated by EMPOWER THE CHILDREN. (“Preyrona” in Bengali, the local language, means inspiration.)
Preyrona 1: This vocational school teaches teenagers various needlework skills that are valued in the Indian culture — including decorative embroidery and needlepoint. Women attending the tailoring program are taught how to operate sewing machines, cut patterns and sew clothing.
Preyrona 2 & 3: At these schools children are taught literacy and basic math skills so that they may reach age-appropriate grade levels. Enrichment programs include drama, art, expressive language and crafts. Teenagers also learn vocational skills such as embroidery, needlepoint, and painting on fabric/glass. Women of all ages learn tailoring skills.
Unfortunately, polio has not been eradicated in India. In impoverished areas birth deformities are often left untreated. Since 1973 Rehabilitation Centres for Children, an orthopedic hospital, has provided free medical care for these physically disabled children.
EMPOWER THE CHILDREN supports RCFC’s in-hospital school by offering an interactive language program that is both fun and educational. In addition, EMPOWER THE CHILDREN has partnered with other nonprofit organizations to provide vital services that enhance the quality of patient care. For example, Project Ahimsa funds a music therapy program that helps the children reduce their tension and better cope with physical pain. Indian American Educational Foundation donated a library, computers and renovated the playground. Help India Helpen, a Dutch nonprofit organization, purchased a new ambulance, an anesthesia machine and physical therapy equipment.
Sixty mentally and physically challenged young adults, many with seizure disorders, live at Prabartak Home. Until EMPOWER THE CHILDREN implemented a specialized language curriculum, Prabartak residents required a great deal of assistance to accomplish even the simplest tasks. After only a few years of intervention they acquired the skills to work independently. Art, drama, crafts, music, dance and other enrichment programs help develop creativity, especially for those who cannot speak. Drama stimulates self-expression and annual public performances allow participants to gain recognition and invaluable self-confidence.
Kamargachi is an idyllic community far from chaotic Kolkata. Its scenic beauty and cultural heritage, however, hide the reality of poverty and illiteracy. Until recently, Kamargachi’s children were not encouraged to attend school. As a result of extensive outreach by EMPOWER THE CHILDREN, parents eventually came to understand the importance of education. Today 60 students attend Kamargachi School which offers a literacy curriculum plus a music program reflecting the community’s rich tribal culture.
Dankuni Tutorial Centers 1 & 2
Dankuni is a poor village located about 30 minutes outside of Kolkata. The children attend the local school but, due to parental illiteracy, receive no educational support at home. EMPOWER THE CHILDREN opened Dankuni 1 specifically to address this problem. The after-school tutorial center, operating six days a week, helps students with their homework and exam preparation. Dankuni 1 proved so successful that EMPOWER THE CHILDREN opened Dankuni 2 in order to accommodate the growing number of interested children.