Dear James Connection Community:
In the season of Thanksgiving every year we send this heartfelt thank you to you for supporting the James Connection’s work to provide food, clothing, shelter and Christian love at Angels’ Place – home to 160 orphans in rural, northeast India. Given Covid-19, our thanks abound.
We could not be more proud of the way our staff managed life at Angels’ Place throughout the pandemic. From the time the Indian government closed group homes throughout the country Sanga, Englian, Siam and Sangi stayed in touch with the children, distributed rice and dal to their families, and encouraged them to stay healthy. Because we sustained their salaries, our staff dedicated themselves to learning safety protocols to prepare the campus for the children’s return. With children back but schools still closed, our staff diligently organized enrichment activities and games to keep children busy, and they engaged qualified and vaccinated tutors to conduct classes on our locked-down campus mimicking a routine school day.
As life returns to as-near-normal as possible, there is no better evidence of the quality of our work than this fact – not one person or child at Angels’ Place has caught the virus.
That was then. This is now. Now it is time to look ahead, to set new goals, to reimagine the future our kids will encounter, and to re-evaluate the best way to prepare them for it. Through consultation with local schools, tech companies with international reach, and employment advisors around the world we have uncovered an obvious but alarming gap.
From the start, our children’s future is disadvantaged because the unemployment rate in northeast India is 74%. They are being left further behind and are, therefore, further less employable because they are not learning computer science. Yes, we have some computers at Angels’ Place, but they are used mostly by the older children who have picked up knowledge at local internet cafes; the younger children watch over shoulders and seldom have hands-on experience. No, the area schools do not offer any computer education and cannot afford any computers.
The James Connection board of directors is unanimously committed to meaningfully addressing that gap. We call this initiative Building Digital Natives – a reference to kids whose native speaking language is the language of technology because they have grown up with it, because they have been immersed in it. If we are successful, our children will be better prepared for the workplace – be it a seamstress who starts a cottage industry or a math-whiz who goes to work for an international company. They will be competitively eligible for a job anywhere……. anywhere in India ……. in fact, anywhere in the world.
Thanksgiving is also the time when we ask you to consider a year-end, tax-deductible gift. Gifts of all sizes are critical to our success in raising $110,000 to research, design and implement with equipment, tutors and a qualified director the Building Digital Natives program. Please help us as much as you can. Click here to give now.
On behalf of the board, the exceptional staff, the beautiful children at Angels’ Place, and with gratitude and hope, I am yours truly.
Jan C. Swensen