In touch with untouchables

Miss Canada 2011 interns with Surrey's Dalit Freedom Network.

Tara Teng.

Trinity Western University student Tara Teng, who is Miss Canada 2011 and Miss BC 2010-2011, has chosen to stand with India’s untouchable Dalits.

Teng is interning at Surrey-based Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) Canada, one of seven international offices committed to helping the 250 million Dalits achieve physical and emotional freedom by empowering them through education, health care, and economic development.

DFN International now operates 103 schools that are bringing hope to rural communities across India.

The organization has received support from Surrey citizens, who have become both donors and advocates for the cause.

Teng, who has already used her platform to speak boldly about social justice issues across B.C., is now using her voice to draw attention to the plight of the Dalits, particularly women and children.

Teng is especially passionate about the growing issue of human trafficking, and highlights how vulnerable groups, such as the Dalits, are at high risk of being exploited. As she learned more about the Dalits and heard shocking stories of families forced to sell a child in order to feed their other dependents, she was moved to action. As a young woman of Asian heritage, Teng felt particularly compelled to become an advocate for the Dalit cause.

Teng will spend the summer speaking on behalf of DFN Canada to groups ranging from children to adults. She believes that creating awareness of global issues is a critical first step, and earnestly asks Canadians to educate themselves about the human rights violations occurring every day in our own country and internationally.

To learn more about the Dalit story, visit www.dalitfreedom.net

Surrey North Delta Leader

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