Dignity Freedom Network

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Dignity Freedom Network (DFN)
MottoWe stand with the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in South Asia by providing education, healthcare, and economic development programs.
Founded2002 (originally, Dalit Freedom Network)
Type501(c)(3) religious non-profit corporation.
41-2075995[1]
Location
  • Post Office Box 3459, Virginia Beach, VA 2345[1]
Region served
South Asia
International President
Bishop Joseph D'Souza
Executive Director
Matthew Corks[1]
Revenue
US$1,706,228[1]
(USA branch only)
ExpensesUS$2,235,867 [1]
(USA branch only)
Websitedalitnetwork.org

Dignity Freedom Network (DFN) (formerly the Dalit Freedom Network) is an evangelical Christian organization[2][3] that provides education, health, social freedom and economic empowerment services to "the marginalised and outcastes of South Asia".[4]

History[edit]

DFN was founded in 2002 in Greenwood Village, Colorado as the Dalit Freedom Network by Nanci Ricks of Colorado and Bishop Joseph D'Souza who is the President of the All India Christian Council (AICC), CEO of the Indian arm of the global missionary group Operation Mobilization,[5] and bishop of the Good Shepherd Church of India, the largest growing church movement in India.[6] The founding board members were Ricks, D’Souza, Bob Beltz of the Anschutz Corporation, Peter Dance of India Ministries-USA, Melody Divine, an advisor to former Congressman Trent Franks, Ken Heulitt of the Moody Bible Institute, Gene Kissinger of the Cherry Hills Community Church, Kumar Swamy of Operation Mobilization-India, Rich Sweeney and Cliff Young of the Christian rock band, Caedmon's Call.[7]

DFN has operations in the United States of America,[8] Canada,[9] the United Kingdom,[10] New Zealand, and Australia.[11] The organization's operations in these countries are largely centered around fundraising and advocacy.

The Dalit Freedom Network is a partner of the All India Christian Council,[12] a nationwide alliance of more than 2,000 Christian denominations, mission agencies, institutions, federations in India. As per D'Souza's biography[13] on The 700 Club's website : "The Dalit Freedom Network grew out of the AICC's need to facilitate work in the United States and other nations.[14]

In 2018, the organization changed its name from the Dalit Freedom Network to the Dignity Freedom Network to reflect their expanded mission.[15]

Programs[edit]

DFN has four programming areas: education, healthcare, economic development, and social justice advocacy. In the year of 2017, DFN's USA arm alone had raised $1,706,228 and spent $2,235,867 on programs, administration, and fundraising.[1]

Education, Healthcare & Economic Development[edit]

DFN claims that their schools and health care, anti-trafficking, and economic development programs have directly impacted an estimated 14 million people across 6,000 communities in India.

DFN operates 107 English medium schools,[16] known as Good Shepherd Schools, for 27,000 children in India, in partnership with Operation Mercy India Foundation (OMIF), an initiative of the Good Shepherd Church of India.[17] From 2010 to 2018, the schools have graduated more than 2,300 children.[15] The school curriculum consists of English, math, science,[18] as well as religious content such as Christian songs, Bible verses, and lessons about Jesus Christ.[19]

Its micro-entrepreneurship program for women has secured over $2.8 million in microloans from local banks for women in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu.[15] In healthcare, DFN has sent dozens of medical teams to Dalit villages for preventative care and in response to emergencies.[20]

Advocacy[edit]

On October 6, 2005, DFN hosted a conference entitled Racism and Caste Based Discrimination in India: Implications for the US-India Relationship, where talks were given by Udit Raj and Kancha Ilaiah, both prominent critics of the caste system who advocate for Dalits to convert out of Hinduism.[21] D'Souza also testified at a United States Congressional hearing on the same day.[22]

In July 2006, DFN and Christian Solidarity Worldwide spearheaded a letter co-signed by other Christian evangelical groups to former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in support of reversing Freedom of Religion laws that protect vulnerable people from religious conversion through enticements or coercion.[23]

In 2005 and 2006, DFN was involved with the California textbook controversy over Hindu history where they opposed revisions proposed by Hindu groups regarding the portrayal of their religion in history textbooks.[24] As a part of a 2006 Federal lawsuit resulting from the controversy,[25] a subpoena revealed that DFN attempted to portray themselves as a Dalit organization rather than a Christian missionary group on their Wikipedia page.[26]

D'Souza has been recognized as international experts on the caste issue and has been invited to testify in the United States and internationally on the subject of Untouchability. D'Souza has also frequently been cited by the Christian Coalition and other Evangelical Christian groups in the United States.[27] He testified before the UK Conservative Human Rights Commission on April 4, 2007.[28] Both Ricks and D'Souza testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on the effects of Untouchability on women.[29]

Criticism[edit]

The DFN and other similar NGOs have also been criticized by authors Crystal Hsu and P. N. Benjamin, Chairman of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue, for working as "safe houses" for lobbyists engaged in destroying the cultural heritage of India. Hsu and Benjamin assert that NGOs are using endemic problems with caste discrimination as a pretext to gain a foothold in Indian society that have increased social tensions without any meaningful benefit to the Dalit community. They have also criticized DFN for equating caste discrimination with racism. The authors do not provide data showing that NGOs such as DFN have not had any meaningful benefit, or provide reasonable alternatives to improve the quality of life for Dalits.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dalit Freedom Fund - Guidestar Profile". Guidestar. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  2. ^ "The All India Christian Council has continued to make the Dalit freedom struggle their focus. The Dalit Freedom Network (www.dalitnetwork.org) was formed in 2001 to assist the Dalits in the areas of education, social justice, economic development, and healthcare" , On the Side of the Angels: Justice, Human Rights, and Kingdom Mission, pp 89, Biblica, 2007-06-01
  3. ^ Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)
  4. ^ Dalit Freedom Network // About Us // About Us
  5. ^ "OM India Key Focus Area Booklet". p. 4.
  6. ^ "Bishop Joseph D'souza: The Dalit Freedom Network founder who is standing up for India's outcastes". Premier Christian Radio. 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
  7. ^ "Dalit Freedom Fund - Changing the Present". Changing the Present. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  8. ^ "Dalit Freedom Network USA". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Dalit Freedom Network Canada". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Dignity Freedom Network UK". Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Dalit Freedom Network Australia & New Zealand".
  12. ^ According to their website DFN partners only with certain members of AICC, not with AICC as a whole
  13. ^ biography from The 700 Club
  14. ^ 'Dalit' twist to textbook row, Sandhya Jain, The Pioneer - July 24, 2007, archived at hindunet.org
  15. ^ a b c "[Release] Dalit Freedom Network Expands Its Work and Changes Its Name to the Dignity Freedom Network". The KAIROS Company. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  16. ^ "Good Shepherd Schools: A Classroom Tour". Dalit Freedom Network. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  17. ^ "Dignity Freedom Network UK". Dignity Freedom Network UK. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  18. ^ "August 2017 Report". Dalit Freedom Network Canada. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  19. ^ George Thomas (2012-11-27). "California Church Stands Up for India's Untouchables". Charisma News. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  20. ^ Rocky Mountain News Story on DFN
  21. ^ "DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK HOSTS HISTORIC CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: CONFERENCE AND HOUSE HEARING MARK A NEW AWARENESS OF CASTE ATROCITIES IN INDIA". Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times (ASSIST) News. 2005-10-04. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  22. ^ "DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK HOSTS HISTORIC CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: CONFERENCE AND HOUSE HEARING MARK A NEW AWARENESS OF CASTE ATROCITIES IN INDIA". Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times (ASSIST) News. 2005-10-04. Retrieved 2018-12-23.
  23. ^ Dalit Freedom Network Petition on Anti-Conversion Laws
  24. ^ "Dalit Freedom Network letter to California State Board of Education" (PDF). Friends of South Asia. 2005-12-30. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Press Room". Capeem.org. August 11, 2006. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  26. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 6, 2016. Retrieved June 9, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Joseph D'Souza bio from The 700 Club
  28. ^ Testimonies before Conservative Human Rights Commission, April 4, 2007
  29. ^ Testimonies before Congressional Human Rights Caucus
  30. ^ www.hvk.org,HVK archive of Vijay Times

External links[edit]