Empower The Children is a non-profit organization that provides quality educational opportunities and lunch programs for slum-dwelling children and those with serious mental and physical disabilities.
ETC is a USA-registered charity and non-profit organization. All donations are USA tax deductible.
After working 27 years as a speech therapist and educational consultant in New Jersey schools, Rosalie Giffoniello spent the summer of 1999 in Kolkata (Calcutta) India, inspired by the humanitarian work of Mother Teresa. There she donated her professional services to one of Mother Teresa's homes, an orphanage for physically and mentally challenged children.
She was shocked at what she found. While the children were clean and well fed, they were left to lie all day on the floor or in their cribs, without any toys or meaningful stimulation, leading them to engage in autistic-like behaviors. Rosalie immediately recognized that these children needed educational and physical therapy programs to enrich their lives. She spent two months at the orphanage teaching many of them how to walk, to feed themselves and dress themselves. When Rosalie returned to New Jersey she took early retirement from her teaching position. Shortly afterward she returned to Kolkata and brought with her specialized chairs that enabled some of the children to sit upright for the first time in their lives. (Imagine the look of delight and astonishment on their faces when they could see their friends for the first time, after knowing them only by the sounds of their voices!) Rosalie also brought with her pediatric wheelchairs, giving many children their first taste of independence. She started an in-house educational program, which was so successful, that within two years of its creation eight of the children were attending outside schools.
Rosalie's life has been radically altered but not as dramatically as the young lives she impacts - some of the world's most helpless and needy children. She now spends six months each year in Kolkata following her passion to "empower the children," creating or enriching a variety of stimulating educational programs for destitute children, disabled children and orphans.
Rosalie had always admired Mother Teresa and dreamt that one day she would volunteer at one of Mother Teresa's orphanages in Kolkata, India. Trained as a special educator, she felt she had the knowledge and experience to help the many disabled and needy children living there.
In 1993, Rosalie contemplated taking a leave of absence from her teaching position. She wrote several letters to agencies that served the needy throughout the world; to the Tibetan Children's Village, World Jewish Services, Catholic Charities and a Tibetan nunnery inquiring about the possibility of teaching English.
She also sent a letter to Mother Teresa offering to work at a leper colony in Kolkata. Mother Teresa wrote back, saying that the leper colony was self-sufficient and didn't need her help. However, Mother Teresa said that there was a home for handicapped children where Rosalie's services would surely be appreciated. Rosalie inserted the letter into a book she treasured about Mother Teresa, called "Something Beautiful for God." Over the years, that signed letter from Mother Teresa sat between the pages of the book on one of many bookshelves on the top floor of Rosalie's house.
In 1994 because of her long connection with the Tibetan people, Rosalie decided to teach the Tibetan nuns who fled Tibet/China and were in exile in northern India.
Five years later, in the spring of 1999, while Rosalie was lying on her bed pondering where she would go during her upcoming summer holiday she suddenly heard a thump, thump, thump. She was curious and got up to see what caused the noise. She walked to the entrance of the staircase, and there lying at the base of the stairs was the book, "Something Beautiful For God" with Mother Teresa's signed letter inside of it.
Now ordinarily, a single book does not fall off a full bookshelf and fly down an entire flight of stairs. Rosalie took this as a sign that she was meant to go to Kolkata, India for the summer. So, in the summer of 1999 Rosalie traveled to Kolkata where her life and the lives of the many children she has touched has never been the same.
In January 2001, Rosalie Giffoniello and Janet Grosshandler co-founded EMPOWER THE CHILDREN, a nonprofit 501 (3) C organization headquartered in Jackson, New Jersey. Its board of directors is dedicated to improving the lives of children. Its Mission Statement is "to serve children in need, enriching them physically, intellectually and spiritually and helping them fulfill their life’s potential." The bylaws of EMPOWER THE CHILDREN stipulate that 90 percent of every tax-deductible contribution must be spent directly for the children and cannot be used for administrative purposes. In fact, all of its administrators and staff are volunteers -- giving their time and resources to this worthy humanitarian cause.
When EMPOWER THE CHILDREN was founded, Rosalie focused her attention on improving the lives of the mentally and physically challenged children living in Mother Teresa’s orphanages. She observed, however, that the disabled children in the orphanages were fed each day and clothed while the homeless “street” children often went without food and the most basic necessities. As a result, she decided to broaden her efforts and address the needs of the city's poorest and most vulnerable youngsters. Since then, ETC has generated a number of initiatives to help more than 1,500 children, providing daily nutritional lunches and creating educational and enrichment programs. The philosophy of EMPOWER THE CHILDREN is straightforward: to improve the life of one child can make a real difference in the world.
In order to expand its humanitarian outreach, EMPOWER THE CHILDREN has partnered with other like-minded charities including:
PROJECT AHIMSA -- MUSIC PROGRAMS
The DISHA SCHOOL has an exciting music program, thanks to PROJECT AHIMSA, a nonprofit organization that promotes unity and peace through music. PROJECT AHIMSA donated guitars, flutes, harmoniums and tablas (drums) and pays the salaries for the program’s music teachers. This program has generated so much interest that all the classes are full to capacity, and there is a long waiting list.
The Rehabilitation Center for Children is an orthopedic hospital in Kolkata where young patients undergo successive surgical procedures and receive long-time recuperative care. To help these youngsters cope with pain and provide an outlet for their anxiety, Project Ahimsa has initiated a music therapy program. The donation of funds has enabled the hospital to purchase musical instruments and pay the salaries of music teachers. To supplement the program, a sound system was installed in a new music room so that these recovering children now enjoy making music and listening to music on an ongoing basis.
PROJECT AHIMSA also supports ETC’s annual “Celebration of Diversity” drama. (See Recent Events).
information, visit PROJECT AHIMSA at:
TO LOVE CHILDREN – LIBRARY AT Buniadi Bidyapith (BB) School
EMPOWER THE CHILDREN introduced David Kenneth Waldman, founder of TO LOVE CHILDREN, to the Buniadi Bidyapith (BB) School. In 2004 he donated books, periodicals, furniture and shelving to create a beautiful library that the school desperately needed.
For online information, please visit: www.tolovechildren.org.
HELP INDIA HELPEN
HELP INDIA HELPEN, a Dutch non-profit organization, has taken a great interest in the Rehabilitation Center for Children, a hospital for non-ambulatory children in Kolkata, India. Through creative fundraising efforts over a period of two years, enough money was raised to purchase a new ambulance for the hospital. They are now focusing on finding sponsors for the children’s on-going surgeries.
For online information, please visit: www.helpindiahelpen.nl.
INDIAN AMERICAN EDUCATION FOUNDATION (IAEF)
INDIAN AMERICAN EDUCATION FOUNDATION (IAEF) is dedicated to elevating the quality of life for children with disabilities in India. In Kolkata, they support the “Inclusion Drama” at Prabartak Home. This project brings disabled and non-disabled children together through music and drama. (See Recent Events).
Indian American Education Foundation has made a generous grant to Rehabilitation Center for Children for a new library, the purchase of musical instruments, a computer center and renovation of the playground.
For online information, please visit: www.iaefseattle.org.
Help2Help, a Dutch non-profit organization, was established by Willeke van Nieuwenhuijze after her trip to Kolkata. She was so moved by the plight of the children that she created a foundation and rallied family and friends to raise funds for educational programs. Many successful projects include their Help2Help calendar of smiling Kolkata kids, beautiful cards and crafts that are sold in their homes, at flea markets and church bazaars.
For online information, please visit: www.help-2-help.nl
Copyright © 2004
Empower the Children (ETC)