Smiles Without Borders. The Power of Interfaith in Touching the Untouchable

How many smiles can change the world? One may think that it would take millions, but it might be a single, first smile that generates so many others. Smiling is a universal language that crosses all borders. Through joint education programs located both in India and Nepal, downtrodden people in Nepal and East India are finding new reasons to smile.

While officially prohibited, the caste system is still a daily reality in India and Nepal. This kind of discrimination leads to unequal access to education and ongoing conditions of poverty and being discarded by society.

Using URI’s global support network, Deepak Kumar (a Hindu from East India); and, Manoj Ram (a Dalit from Nepal) found one another and committed to use education to eliminate caste based discrimination and teach care for the environment in their home countries.

Their local interfaith organizations, the Smiles4Millions Cooperation Circle in East India; and, the Peace 4 Dalits Cooperation Circle in Nepal, worked together to engage people whose voices are seldom heard… and smiles began to beam on thousands of faces.

Photo credits: Alanna Sousa

Manoj and Deepak reflections on how URI has impacted their education program.

“We are two different countries holding hands to provide education to people who are eliminated by society.”
Manoj Ram

“Smiles can be reached through education. Smiles can be reached through planting saplings. Smiles come from helping and empowering society. Our CCs in Nepal and India are working together to educate students from the slums of India and from the poor Dalit classes of Nepal.”
Deepak Kumar

Photo credit: Deepak Kumar

Deepak and Manoj agree that it is being a part of URI’s global network that gives them a deeper sense of belonging and provides them with the glue to connect with a world community where they can work together to challenge the status quo.