About Dalit Freedom Network Canada
We are a group of Canadians joining hands with an international network of people who care about India’s oppressed Dalits. We strive to free the Dalits through education and empowerment. Keep reading to learn more about how you can help free India’s Dalits.
The Dalit People
The word “Dalit” means “broken, downtrodden, or oppressed”. Dalits are people born into families in the lowest rung of India’s rigid social system. 250 million Dalit men, women and children face normalized prejudice, abuse and oppression everyday. That’s 7 times the population of all of Canada!
Though laws in India give everyone equal status, Dalits still endure segregation and are considered ‘Untouchables’ due to ingrained cultural standards. The label of being Dalit determines the jobs they are allowed to perform, such as handling dead bodies, animals, street sweeping, or removing human waste. It keeps them as the lowest in society, and in the cycle of poverty.
But their story doesn’t end here, watch our video to see what supporters like you can make possible.
We are committed to helping India’s Dalits overcome oppression, realize their human worth and dignity and gain self-reliance. Our mission is to bring hope and to empower the Dalit people by providing access to quality education, healthcare and vocational training. We believe everyone should have a chance at a bright future, regardless of social standing.
The Dalits are constantly robbed of their dignity in the name of ‘tradition’. We strive to change attitudes around this practice and to give the Dalit people what every human being deserves: to live free of discrimination, economically, socially and spiritually.
Our 5 Main Goals
With the help of our supporters, we strive to:
Provide a safe space for Dalit children to learn and grow by building schools in rural and remote areas of India.
Give every Dalit child the chance to feel loved and valued; to strengthen their self-esteem by teaching them of their own human worth and of social equality and dignity.
Provide valuable job training for Dalit men and women, enabling them to escape poverty and build a brighter future for their family.
Develop health education and disease prevention programs all over India, helping to create healthier communities.
Raise Canadian awareness of the injustices faced by the Dalit people.
International President of Dalit Freedom Network
Dr. Joseph D’Souza
Dr. Joseph D’Souza is the International President of Dalit Freedom Network. For the past 25 years he has become a spokesperson for marginalized peoples in India and around the world. Dr. D’Souza was inspired to take up the cause when he met with Dalit leaders in 2001 and they requested help for their children.
They said, “Please provide our children with education and English language skills. Tell them they are people of value and worth.” Dr. D’Souza committed to build schools for the poor and marginalized, and today there are Good Shepherd Schools in rural villages throughout India.
He became a founding member of the All India Christian Council in 1998 and president of the Dalit Freedom Network in 2002. He has published two books on the history and plight of the Dalit people, On the Side of Angels and Dalit Freedom Now and Forever. Dr. D’Souza now travels all over India and the world, bringing awareness to the plight of the Dalit people. His headquarters are in India.
Financial Statements & Annual Report
Dalit Freedom Network is committed to accountability and transparency in our practices. Learn more about how we put your generosity to work.
Audited financial statements are available by contacting our office.
Suraya* was just seven years old when she started studying at our Good Shepherd School, but she was already working to help support her family. Her single mother worked in a match factory and to help make ends meet, she brought matchboxes home for her daughter to assemble.
Thankfully, one of our Good Shepherd School managers came to know Suraya and her mother and invited her to attend the school. Suraya loved her classes so much that she decided to become a teacher herself.
Last year, this bright young woman completed her training through the Good Shepherd Teacher’s Training College and is now a teacher in the same school she herself attended.
Suraya could have faced the fate of so many Dalit women: denied the chance to rise out of poverty, a target for abuse and sexual violence. Now her dreams have come true, and all it took was an education.
*Names have been changed due to privacy reasons.
A Dalit child has the odds stacked against them from birth, but an education can change that. Being able to go to school does more than give a child the chance to learn and grow–it unlocks the door to freedom.