Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Faith In Action: Untouchables

Part of Virtue Ethics

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: Computer with Internet access and a digital projector or a large monitor

Preparation for Activity

  • Preview the Akshaya website. If you will not have a computer with Internet access when you lead the activity, print information from the website to share with the group.
  • Optional: Test the computer, Internet connection, and website link.

Description of Activity

Say in these words or your own:

This is a true story of a man who was humbled and it changed his life:

Narayanan Krishnan was on his way to becoming a five-star chef in Switzerland when he encountered a man on the street of his hometown in Maduria, India. The man belonged to a group called "untouchables." Though India is working to combat classism, classes still exist. One traditional class that has brought infamy to the country is Untouchables. These people are considered so low that many people will literally not touch them. Narayanan reached out to touch the old man and his life was changed forever. Not because he was stained or cursed by the touch, but because he was blessed to find his life's work. He started feeding the hungry fresh-cooked meals, using his personal savings. His ministry to literally "the least of these" has grown and become Akshaya USA. This organization is currently trying to build a homeless shelter so they can help more people.

The Akshaya website makes this statement: "Today, did you... shower, eat something, get your medicine, sleep indoors? Now imagine those starving, exhausted, mentally ill, filthy, abused and left for dead on the street. If it were your street, your neighborhood, you know what you'd do... "

Ask the youth:

  • What would you do?
  • Who are the untouchables in your life? Are there people in your neighborhood who some people feel are not worthy of a helping hand?
  • What can your group do to help those who are slipping between the cracks and do not get services to help with their needs?

One group the youth might identify is the mentally ill. Some homeless people on our streets have mental illness that makes their search for resources all the harder. If youth do not, suggest mentally ill homeless people. Lead a discussion about how the youth can help. Is there a local hospital or community center which serves the mentally ill and needs donations? Designate a volunteer to find out what items are needed and have the group hold a collection drive.

Consider baking holiday treats for a hospital or community center for Valentine's Day. Tell their patrons that somebody loves them.

Perhaps services for the mentally ill need more public funding. The group could write to their local, state, or national legislators and urge them to allocate funds.

Or, encourage the youth to hold a fundraiser for the shelter being built by Akshaya.