Karuna Trust, London, United Kingdomhttp://www.karuna.org/
Helping children and their families from 'untouchable' communities in rural India escape poverty, child-labor in cigarette factories, & ill-health through education, health care & livelihood support
Caste & religious discrimination results in these families being dependent on bonded labor, rolling raw tobacco into cigarettes. Children are at risk through exposure to the tobacco atmosphere in the womb, as infants & as child-laborers (from 7 yrs old). The children are from low-caste Hindu, Tribal & Muslim families who are uneducated, do not own land or have alternative livelihoods.11500 children in the project villages will be helped, along with their families; a total of 40,000 people.
Providing an integrated program of education, health-care & livelihood schemes stopping child labor, including provision of access to education (20 pre-school and creche facilities), mobile health clinics & micro-finance self-help savings groups.
Each child can access education, proper health care, nutrition, and recreation to enable them to have a childhood free from child-labour and child-marriage, and to support their overall development and the completion of their education.
Mrs Asha is 41, and lives in Nannaj Dumala, in a small house with her mother, daughter and son.
Her husband died 4 years ago due to AIDS. Since then Asha has had to bear the responsibility of looking after and educating her two children, as well as caring for her aging mother. She has very little money, supporting the whole family on an income of Rs 2,000 a month.
Before the project
Not having a toilet, and like many other poor families in the are, Mrs Asha, her children and her mother defecated openly in the village. For the 3 women of the family, this would mean waiting until dark or early morning. This caused stomach problems for the women, as well as exposing them to water-bourne diseases where people were openly deficating. It also affected the self-esteem of Mrs Asha, and especially her daughter. They were not aware of basic health and hygiene practice.
NISD began working in this village, and Mrs Asha started to get involved int he activities they were running. Through this, she came to learn much more about basic health and sanitation practices, and the risks to both themselves and others that the practice of open defication led to.
She was inspired to construct a toilet, and asked if NISD could help. The construction was mostly subsidised by NISD who provided the materials, with Mrs Asha contributing the rest from what she could save.
The whole family now use the newly construced toilet and understand the importance of basic hygiene practices. This also means they can go to the toilet when they want, which has saved all kind of health problems and difficulties - especially for Mrs Asha's elderly mother. The money that has been saved on doctors bills and travel can now be used for the children's education.
Thank you for helping Mrs Asha and her family to enjoy a freedom we would all wish to have. This would not have been possible without your help.
Parvej is 4. He lives with his parents, 2 sisters and grandfather. The entire family are dependent upon his father's irregular daily labour work, and so their financial condition is normally precarious.
Parvej and his 6-year-old sister both attend pre-school, where it was noticed that Parevej was quite underweight.The crèche worker and NISD doctor visited Parvej's home and so the condition that he was living in. He weighed 11kg and was diagnosed as being 'grade II malnourished'. Because the family had never been able to afford enough food, Parvej had already suffered from health problems.
The NISD doctor advised his mother to give Parvej supplementary nutrition, in the form of 'spirulina candies', twice a day. This supplementary nutrition was to be provided free of cost by NISD. The crèche worker also encouraged the mother to attend crèche meetings on health, nutrition and child care.
Parvej's weight and health are improving. He looks a lot healthier and happier. His mother has been attending meetings also, and enjoys meeting other mothers.
Because of your support Parvej's health problems are decreasing, and his future looks much brighter.
Amreen is 17 years old, and lives in the village of Kuran, with her mother, father, and 2 brothers in a small house made of mud with a tin roof. Her father, and both of her brothers are wage labourers. Her mother rolls bidi cigars. All of this work together generated a total of 3,000rs a month, which was not enough for basics for the family, such as food and clothes.
A very driven and bright girl, she completed her 9th standard of school despite the background of rural poverty that she comes from. Unfortunately, her family poverty prevented her from completing school before she could finish, as she had to stay at home to help her mother with the housework, and making bidis (Indian cigars) for extra income.
Amreen was determined to become skilled at something, so she could "stand on her own 2 feet" as well as contribute financially to the family. She began attending the 'youth employment training' offered by NISD in her village, learning how to sew, in February of this year. She knew that if she learned to do this, she would be able to earn money due to the strong demand for such a service. After beginning this training, she also began to take an interest in NISD's other activities, which greatly helped to improve her confidence.
Towards the end of her time training, her parents decided to help in buying a sewing machine. Doing work for neighbours, friends, and other villagers, she has been able to make an additional 2,000rs a month for the family. This will increase over time.
Amreen says "Now I can help my family from the money I earn. This was not possible before. Now I am proud that I can contribute to the family."
With such skills, and generating income through her work, Amreen will also be breaking ideas about the worth and abilities of girls. This will bode well, not only for Amreen's own future, but for all the girls and families who come into contact with her, who will be forced to confront their own assumptions.
Thank you all for funding this life changing work.
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Very best wishes,
Kajal’s situation is a common one among so many of the children in these villages. Her parents and 6 siblings barely survive financially. They make money by collecting and selling branches of the neem tree, which people use to clean their teeth. They have a total monthly income of 2,000 rupees (about £22) and live in a hut which they have constructed themselves.
Kajal desperately wanted to go to school. She saw clearly that following in the footsteps of her parents meant to remain trapped in a life of poverty. However, school enrolment fees of 510 rupees, in addition to the cost of study materials, meant that school was not an option for her. Instead, she spent her time collecting neem tree branches with the rest of her family.
Last month, during a rally that was taking place in her village, she met some of the project staff. She explained her wish to attend school, but that her family’s poverty meant she could not. After speaking to Kajal’s family, and hearing about the situation from them, the project staff began work. First, they negotiated with the Headmaster of the local school to allow Kajal to attend, in spite of her inability to pay fees. They then arranged educational material and a uniform for Kajal, so that she was equipped to pursue her dreams of studying.
The project staff are in regular contact with the family. There is little change in their living circumstances, but for over a month now Kajal has been happily attending school. She is already talking about completing her education and helping to improve her family’s financial situation.
Kajal is one of many thousands of children which this project is helping. Thank you for supporting this life-changing work.
I hope this update finds you all well.
We recently completed the first year of the new, expanded version of this project. I am really happy to have the opportunity to share some of the key achievements with you.
Progress towards overall aim of project.
The project aims to help 10,000 Dalit children to escape the prospect of child labour by getting an education. Our project partner NISD’s great strength has always been successfully and creatively engaging all stakeholder groups, so that entire communities are involved in these new educational initiatives. This was the first year of an expanded project, and NISD have been able to replicate their previous success in these new villages.
Village Education Committees and Parent-Teacher Associations came into being and worked with local leaders to rally around a school enrolment drive and support the project generally. As a result, over 800 children have entered education, and thousands have been supported in remaining in school (see figures below) in a number of different ways.
The new sanitation element of the project suffered a setback, with only 321 toilets constructed due to the effects of drought. The toilets have had a significant impact on the practice of open defecation however, and many more will be constructed next year.
Women’s self-help groups meant that women could access loans, with almost 100 already generating their own income as a result. Vocational training meant that young people who had either finished school, or dropped out too early, had better prospects than following their parents into employment.
All of these activities serve to create communities which no longer depend on the noxious work of the tobacco industry, and are aware of the importance of education. This means there is more hope for the children of these villages than there ever has been to escape the grinding poverty they are in. Thank you for funding this life changing work.
We are now into the second year of activities, and I will soon be updating you as before, with stories from the ground.
The difference that is being made to these children's lives, and the communities they are in, could scarcely be more profound.
Thank you, as always for continuing to give your hard earned money to this life changing work.
As I wrote last time, the expanded activities of the project this year have included sanitation awareness, and assisting in the construction of toilets. Curbing the practice of open defaction imporves both the health and the environment of the children, as well as others in the village. This month I would like to share with you the story of Sunderbai, who has been helped to construct a toilet by the project, and who's family are enjoying the benefits.
Sunderbai is a 52 year old, single, mother-of-two. She works in the bidi (cigar) rolling houses, and lives in Sukewadi village. Her eldest son is married and has a 2 year old child of his own. Her second son is in school. The money that Sunderbai obtains from her difficult, carcinogenic work is not enough to provide for the household.
Like many families in the village, Sunderbai's family previously had to defecate openly, not having access to toilet facilities. They used to have to walk long distances to defecate, so that they would not be seen. Nevertheless they would recieve a lot of abuse for engaging in this practice when they had little alternative. Things became worse when Sunderbai's daughter-in-law came to live with them. Because they could only go late night or early morning, much of the family experienced stomach problems, and Sunderbai herself lost a lot of money by having to take time off work and also pay medical bills.
When the project workers came to hear of her situation, she was a clear candidate for toliet construction support. A toilet was constructed, and Sunderbai and her family were shown how to use and look after it.
Now the whole family are very happy to have their own toilet which they can make use of at any time. The daughter in law feels much more comfortable in her new home, and relations with wealthier neighbours are now free from abuse and insults. The members of the family are now all able to reach their places of work and education on time, and can focus on their respective tasks. They have also learned a great deal about basic hygeine and sanitation through this intervention, and expenditure on health treatment has reduced so much that Sunderbai has even been able to save a little money (!)
These basic things which we take for granted mean so much in the daily lives of people who don't have them.
Thank you so much for supporting families such as Sunderbai's in this way.
Globalgiving are running a matching campaign on Wednesday 13th March. I have included some information at the end of the update. I hope it is of interest to some of you.
One of the main focusses of this integrated child rights project is health, and specifically sanitation. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why sanitation awareness and toilet construction, are so important.
In the villages where these projects operate, there is almost no knowledge of basic hygeiene and sanitation amongst the people. Food is left uncovered where it can be infected, people do not use soap, and open defacation is rampant. One can imagine effect on the health and standard of living of all in the village, including the children.
The first school I visited on my trip, the children and teachers showed me, from the window, the area where most people from the village would openly deficate every morning. By the time the children came into class, the stench would be coming through the windows of all the main classrooms.
With so few toilet facilities, this was a common practice for most households in the village. The health risks from such a practice are twofold: Firstly there are the obvious dangers of disease from the exposed excretia; however, people also suffer illnesses regularly as a consequence of not being able to go to the toilet when they need to.
As one woman explained to me, "we have to go either early in the morning or late at night, so that people don't see us. I had to go to the doctor recently. It costs a lot to go to the doctor, and we have to travel very far. And when we women go, someone [another woman] has to come with us. He told me the problem was due to my not going to the toilet when I needed to." This story was not uncommon for the people, and especially the women, of many of the villages.
In addition, not using soap, and poor hygeine around food preparation and storage, mean illness was common in the village.
Through the projects activties, campaigning, awareness raising and education, sanitation is improving. Across 50 villages, 2,350 families are being encouraged and assisted in constructing toilets, which is very significant. The woman to whom I spoke has recently built a toilet (pictured below). The children are learning about the importance of such things from an early age, and in many cases are imparting this knowledge to their parents in the home.
Healthier, cleaner, home and school environments make a big difference to the lives of these children, and their ability to study. This can be seen in that first classroom, where there is no more stench from the road. They can now study happily and safely, and sing songs they have learnt about the importance of not spitting, not defacating openly, washing their hands before they eat.
Thank you for helping to empower a community to create a healthy environment for their children.
If you are able to donate again, on Wednesday 13th March, Globalgiving USA is matching all donations with a 30% contribution, up to $1,000 per donor. This is a unique opportunity to make your contribution to these activities count for even more than usual. Please do consider donating on this day, or letting people who might be interested know. The matching will begin at 9am ET.
With gratitude and best wishes,
Apologies for the delay in updates. I have just returned from a field visit to many of the villages where the project is currently operating, as well as villages which have previously benefited from the project activities.
The villages where the project operates typify rural India - largely agrarian and poor, the women do the housework, and the children do not study. This is the same situation that one can find in most of rural India. However, these project activities are changing these few villages into special exceptions.
In the newest villages the team reminded me again and again that the project had only been running for 6 months. Still, the impact was evident. The children sit proudly in their new uniforms, it not possible to tell which children came from the more privileged families. The distribution of uniforms, bags and materials, combined with the special teacher training, and improvements to the school building has resulted in over 90% attendance.
They perform songs that they had learnt about the dangers of drinking and addiction, about the importance of hygiene. The hygiene issue is a big one here: before the project activities began, the whole village used to defecate openly by the roadside behind the school. By 7 o'clock the smell would be coming in through the windows. This has ended now, with awareness raising and toilet construction throughout the village.
The children tell me how much they enjoy going to school now. A number who are members of the 'Bal Panchayat' (the 'Child Parliament') step forwards, introduce themselves and explain their roles. Each has their area of responsibility, in the school and in the village. The Education Minister is responsible for making sure that children attend school and complete their school work. The Health Minister is responsible for making sure they wash their hands and eat nutritiously, and importantly, that they understand why they should do these things.
In another village, I sit in on a 'reading improvement programme' class. Here, children who are struggling with their studies, and especially with basic literacy, are given special attention. The project team have produced a series of cards which very cleverly allows a teacher to combine many different letter combinations producing words. The cards progress in 6 sets as the children become more proficient. Under ordinary circumstances, village children who were struggling would simply be left to fail and drop out.
Indeed, if it were not for the project activities, the vast majority of children in these villages would have little chance of completing their education. Instead, on this trip, I saw many of the 'bidi' cigarette rolling houses where they would have been working, lying closed.
Thanks to your donations, these children have the opportunity to escape the grinding poverty they would otherwise have remained in for generations.They understand the importance of education instead of going into employment early, and their aspirations are high.
Thank you all for funding this life changing work.
“Timely guidance, help and financial assistance for medical treatment, saved the life of 2 year old Tamanna.”
Situation Before Intervention:
Tamanna is 2 years old, and lives with her parents in 'Karule village'. Her father is a driver but becasue his income is not sufficient to sustain the household of 5, her mother also has to work as a wage labourer. With her parents away for the whole day, she stays with her grandmother.
One day Tamanna was not well. Her grandmother believed it to be a normal cough and cold. The fever continued to many days, but her mother simply hoped that she would become alright within a day or two.
When the NISD staff heard of Tamanna's illness, they went there immediately and took Tamanna for a medical check-up. NISD's doctor checked her and referred her to their child specialist, Dr Jadhav. After blood and haemoglobin tests, she was diagnosed with jaundice. Her parents did not have any moeny for her treatment, but NISD's financial support meant they could begin treatment straight away. Tamanna started improving and recovered from her sickness. The doctor said if she had not arrived when she did, it would have been difficult to save her life. NISD covered all the medical costs.
Now Tamanna is well and gaining her weight day by day. Now she is coming to crèche regularly and participates in all the the project activities such as studying, playing, singing songs etc. Now the pre-school teacher is in a postition to monitor Tamanna’s health.
Comments of Parents:
Tamanna's father reflects that things could have been very difficult if the NISD doctor had not checked Tamanna, and due to their financial situation especially, they would have likely lost their child.
Timely guidance, help and financial assistance for medical treatment, saved the life of 2 year old Tamanna.
Tamanna's parents are grateful to Karuna and NISD for their timely support which saved the life of their young child.
This could not have happened without your support. Thank you.
Situation before intervention:
Shabana is a 20 year old Muslim girl, who lives in Pallaskhed Village with her 50 year old mother. The village is 18km from Sangamner. People of the village depend mainly on agricultureand so are entirely at the mercy of the irregular rainfall. They face problems of water scarcity both for agriculture and household purposes.
After the death of Shabana’s father, her mother earned a meagre income through daily wage labour. This was not sufficient to cover family expenses as well as Shabana's educational costs, so she was forced to stop studying after the 12th standard. Instead she remained at home, heavy-hearted, and in time began helping her mother as a labourer.
Situation after intervention:
The NISD selected Palaskhed village for the project, and the Reading Improvement Programme worker visited. Shabana received from her information about free vocational training courses run by NISD, for the needy youth. Shabana applied for the Hospital Assistant course and was selected. It was a turning point Shabana's life, her wish of further study fulfilled in the form of training.
Shabana is now 20 years old. Over 3 years ago she left school to help her mother by working as a wage labourer. Now she is attending the course, living and studying in a sincere and disciplined way. She has completed the 'theory' part of her course, and is now completing the 'practical' at Dr. Gadekar Hospital.
She recieved this opportunity due to her attitude of wanting to serve the sick and the poor, her hard work and her disciplined behavior. Her confidence has increased and now she feels she will be able to find employment in hospitals after the course. She has a clear goal in her life now - meaningful and dignified service of the sick.
Shabhana and her mother are grateful for this opportunity, which has been provided to her completely free of charge.
Shashikant is 17. He lives in Konchi village (17km from Sangamner). There are 5 people in his family - a brother, a sister, and parents. His family is dependent on agricultural work for their livelihood, but the increasing droughts in recent years has made life unbearably difficult for them.
The family could no longer afford to send their children to school, which was quite a distance from the village. Shashikant began helping his father labouring on the farms instead, in order to supplement the family income. It looked like this was to be his life.
When NISD visited the village to identify the most needy, Shashikant was selected for free vocational training. Shashikant had wanted to be an electrician from a young age, so that was the course he studied. Shashikant now attends the course regularly and is a very attentive and interested student. Though it is expensive to travel into Sangamner everyday, the family know it is an investment in the future.
Shashikant's confidence is now manyfold, and he dreams of a meaningul and dignified life in the future. He and his family members are grateful to all those who have helped.
The Situation Before: Ajay Mohan Giri, is 7 years old, and lives at Saykhindi village with his father, mother, brother and sister. He is from a poor family, and parents work as labourers, leaving him to look after his siblings. Standards of hygiene are already low, and with the parents away for the whole day, the children are not properly cared for.
The Project Intervention: NISD has been started health program in the schools. NISD staff visited Ajay’s school and gave information on hygiene and health. At that time Ajay had little knowledge of these things, as such practices are not commonplace in the community. This being the case his clothes were not clean, he didn't wash regularly, he didn't wash his hands and so forth.
The NISD staff however, seeing how receptive and well behaved Ajay’s was, selected him to be the “health volunteer” from his class.
Current Situation: Now Ajay works as a school health volunteer. Not only is he now practicing good hygiene but he encourages his classmates to do the same. He has been explaining the importance of hygiene to both his friends and family.
He is a very active in the school, taking responsibility for the cleanliness of the school environment. Through this, his confidence has increased, and he is doing well in his studies. Not only is he now known as an ideal student at the school, his younger brother and sister are now in a much more healthy and hygienic environment, and are aware of such practices from a much younger age.
Thank you for enabling NISD to bring such positive and important changes to Ajay and his siblings' lives.
One of the big emphases of this project is on child health and nutrition. Poverty and lack of information mean that many of the children are unhealthy when they first enroll in school.
Through the project however, children receive supplementary nutrition twice a day, as well as immunizations and health check-ups at the pre-school centres and schools. In addition, mothers receive training on child development, health and nutrition issues. These are followed up with home visits.
In this way the children and the parents learn the value of health and nutrition, which otherwise receives little attention.
In addition to being requisite for a healthy human life, it also means the children are in the best position to benefit from their education.
Last year 991 children received supplementary nutrition, care and protection, and their growth was monitored on a regular basis, including specific programmes to treat 70 malnourished children.
I am pleased to share with you these pictures recently received from the project of health check-ups and nutrition workshops.
Thank you for allowing this fantastic work to continue.
This year's project activities kicked off in April. As previously reported, this includes the distribution of books, uniforms and educational materials to the thousand poorest children.
With 65% of the population living on less than a £1 a day, something as simple as these school basics can be out of the reach of so many children. Further to this, we have seen many times how Dalit children are singled out for ridicule and bullying by others because of their older shabbier clothes.
By staying in school these children have a real opportunity to escape child labour and the cycle of poverty which has bound their families for generations.
I am therefore very pleased to be able to share with you some pictures of the distribution of educational resources to the children identified as the poorest this year. The survey conducted by the project team identified 1009 children this year who should recieve support in this way.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Sharda’s family is residing in Sukewadi village . His father is working as agricultural labourer and her mother rolls bidi cigars. Sharda too started helping her mother in rolling bidis and dropped out of school 6 years ago.
Sharda has three sisters and two brothers. Her father has worked hard to marry all of the sisters, which costs a lot due to dowry customs. Due to the size of the family and their poor income, it is unbelievable the family can survive on the meagre income they generate.
NISD staff publicised the alternative livelihood training courses which the project runs. Sharda decided to go for tailoring course however her parents objected. As a 22 year old female it was not acceptable to let her attend something like this on her own. Furthermore, they didn't have the funds to pay for even the transportation.
NISD's staff visited and dialoged with them. They told them that 3 other girls from the village were attending the same course. The staff also obtained an old bicycle which Sharda could use for transportation, and thus she was able to attend and complete the course, making her much more confident generally. Following this, Sharda managed to arrange for herself a second hand sewing machine and has started to make money for her family through stitching clothes. Her parents are also now happy that she is no longer rolling bidis, but proudly running her own business.
Thus, another girl has been able to stop the noxious work of rolling bidi cigars thanks to your continued generosity and support.
NAME: Krutik Mukesh Shinde.
Krutik lives in Jakhuri village, his maternal grandfather’s village, along with his mother and younger sister Vaishanavi. Krutik’s father died one year before, due to HIV/AIDS, and his paternal grandfather and other family members did not allow them to stay there, fearing that his mother and children may also infected. Krutik’s mother therefore returned to her father’s village. However here too, his maternal uncle's family would not let them live in the house, and Krutik’s mother, the two children and her elderly father lived separately in a tin shed. She somehow managed to scrape together enough to cover their living costs through wage labouring on farms.
When school started this year, Krutik was in 2nd standard, but due to their financial situation, his mother was not able to buy a uniform, educational materials etc. for Krutik. It was therefore decided that instead of going to school, Krutik should look after neighbour’s goats and earn some money for the family.
In the same time NISD’s enrolment drive was on in Jakhuri village and one of the social workers visited Krutik’s family. He immediately put the case forward to the project. NISD staff counselled Krutik’s mother and encouraged her to enrol Krutik in the school. They also sought cooperation from the school authority and provided a uniform, educational material and motivational support to Krutik and his mother. Thus Krutik’s started going to school regularly.
Because Krutik’s mother was going to work, there was a concern that Krutik would be forced to look after his sister. To avoid this risk, NISD staff enrolled Vaishnavi in the pre-school, recently started by NISD. Thus both Krutik and Vaishnavi are studying and their mother, without any worry, can go to work.
Thanks to your generosity, children have the opportunity to be supported in their education, instead of going into work.
I am happy to update you with some exciting new developments in the last months. Due to the success of the 'Child Rights' model utilized by our project partners NISD, we applied for and have received funding from the UK Government (Department for International Development) to run an expanded version of this project for 3 three years. DFID are now funding 70% of this expanded project, with Karuna raising the remainder.
Additional elements of the project include:
Supplementary nutrition provided to all children, twice a day.
Books, uniforms and educational materials distributed to the thousand poorest children.
Community-Led Total Sanitation' programme - raising awareness amongst at least 9,000 people on such issues as water handling, food hygiene and disposal of human and animal waste, and encourage construction and use of toilets and soak pits by at least 2,350 families.
Self-help Groups (SHGs) and Vocational Training - 200 women’s SHG leaders will improve their literacy and financial skills, learn how to access resources and start small businesses. This learning will be shared will 4,000 women. 800 youths will receive training in areas relevant to the local market such as plumbing, electricity, hospital assistance and jewellery making.
Though the new activities were only recently expanded, the project team have been quick in implementing them. Since April:
We wish the project team success with their continuing work, and shall be keeping you updated with the progress.
Thank you, as always, for your support.
Vimal Bhagaji Bhoir lives in Bhoirwadi and is a member of Kotamadevi Bachat Gat Self-Help Group. This Group was formed in 2002 as an NISD initiative. NISD encouraged women to save Rs. 20 from their low income. Vimal was contributing financially to the group fund but could not participate in meetings or activities as she and her husband had to travel very far for work. She was also not able to spend a decent amount of time with her children.
An 'Income Generation Scheme' training programme was organized by NISD which Vimal and the other women of the group attended. The trainer gave information on Small Dairy and Cattle rearing, along with other business. Vimal liked the idea as it was possible for her to look after a cow. However she did not have money to buy a cow. She saved some money and took Rs. 15,500 loan from her Self-Help Group. She bought a cow for Rs. 22,000.
The cow gave birth to a male calf, and was giving 6 liters of milk. She was able to repay the loan by selling the milk. The cow has since given birth to 3 more calves, 1 male and 2 female. From the sale of the male calves Vimal received enough money to leveling their land (for which NISD arranged a JCB at a subsidized rate).
Vimal currently has two cows, and is receiving sizable income from the sale of their milk. Now her husband and she work on their own field rather going far away to work as wage laborers. The income from the milk has meant Vimal has paid back the loan, and is able to provide for her children's education. She also gives time to the Self-Help Group which she feels has changed her life so much. She is now Secretary of Kotamadevi Bachat Gat and encouraging other women to organize themselves into similar Self-Help Groups.
Thanks you for enabling NISD to facilitate such Self-Help Groups within these tribal displaced communities
Rani belongs to a very poor family. Her parents make just enough money to feed the family of 5 by making and selling brooms.
Rani herself excels in her studies. Her school is 10 km away from where she lives and so she must take the bus daily. Her parents were somehow able to pay 10 rupees for the bus each day. However, Rani would still have to spend 2 to 3 hours each day waiting for buses, as they are not scheduled or regular. Often Rani would arrive at school late, and was even once late for her exams. She would become frustrated as it was beyond her control, and yet the teachers would regularly punish her for being late.
Rani was understandably upset, as she knew how difficult it was for her parents to pay for the bus in the first place. Considering this, she decided to leave school.
NISD’s Reading Improvement Class teacher came to know of Rani’s plans to drop out. He visited her family and stressed the importance of her continuing her schooling. He then met with the school teachers to discuss Rani’s situation, and it was decided the Rani needed a bicycle. This was discussed with NISD’s social workers who sent the case to the head office.
Some money was put aside to buy Rani a bicycle. She now attends school regularly and on-time. She now has more time for her studies.
Rani recently sat her 8th Standard examination, is hopes to complete her education. Her parents remain very supportive in this regard.
Thank you for allowing the various ‘Child Development’ activities to continue, through which Rani’s situation was noticed and she was helped. Instead of dropping out of school, she will now complete her education and be in a much better position to escape poverty.
Swati Vilas Gaikawad is 13 years old.
Her parents are wage laborers, and the family of 5 live in dire poverty in Karule, Sangamner. Swati was born blind. Up to 3rd standard, she was attending a School for Blind Children in the neighboring town of Shrirampur. However, problems at that school meant that they could no longer support Swati. Upset, she had to return to the small drought-prone village of Karule, which has almost no facilities. She would spend her days sitting at home with nothing to do and nothing to stimulate her.
Her mother, realizing that something needed to be done, began leaving her in the NISD run pre-school center while they worked, in the hope that she would at least be able to play and pass her time.The Reading Improvement Teacher (RIP) spoke to Swati about her situation, and decided to take action. She collected all the information available on Swati, and met with Local Government school teachers. The problem was discussed in a Village Education Committee (VEC) meeting.There were members of the committee who had attended NISD's Child Right trainings and appreciated education was a right for all children. Thus the VEC insisted that educational facilities appropriate for Swati should be available in the village.
The case was taken to the Education Officer, and further action was taken by the VEC and NISD project staff. Finally, a Government teacher with the necessary skills was assigned to the village, under the Government's 'Education for All' initiative. Swati is now enrolled in the 4th standard, with braille books and other educational materials provided, and a teacher to guide her. The VEC and Child Parliament members also registered her for a Government scheme for visually handicapped children.
Swati is very intelligence child. Seeing her willingness to learn, she has also joined the RIP. She greatly enjoys all the new stories she is learning, and is always ready to answer questions about them. Swati is now enrolled in education, and spending her time meaningfully.
Thanks to all who have donated for supporting the various child development programmes that helped us to bring hope to Swati's future.
Educated until: 7th std.
Address: At Sabalewadi, Post. Sangnore, Tal. Junnar, Dist. Pune.
Mrs. Kusum’s family consists of herself, her husband, her two daughters, her son and her in-laws. They live in Sabalewadi village, described as "a tribal and most backward area of Pune district." Kusum’s family lost their fertile land due to construction of Pimpalgaon Joge dam. The fertile land was submerged, and all that remains is on the slopes and barren. This meant Kusum had to work on others' fields, walking 14-15 km daily one way. Their life as wage labourers was very difficult, as only Kusum and her husband could work to support the seven of them. Also, because they had to leave the house very early and returned very late, they were not able to look after either the children, or the elderly in-laws.
A few months back Kusum joined a Self-help Group and started saving Rs. 20 per month from her meager income. NISD’s representative told her about the Land Leveling Scheme implemented by NISD and how it could will help to make their remaining sloped land productive. Kusum discussed with his family members but they had no money. Kusum’s Self-help Group helped by giving her a loan. Thus Kusum leveled 2 acres of unproductive, barren land. Family members started cultivating this land, growing crops such as millet, wheat and various vegetables. They produced a paddy in the rainy season, and reaped much food and grain. From the profit they not only repaid the loan but also dug a well in their field to solve irrigation problem. Now both husband and wife work in their own field as proud farmers and fulfill all their family needs from the income. Kusum can now take time to care for the children, their education and her elderly in-laws.
This is all thanks to the Self-help Group; only possible through the generosity of the donors.
Abhishek Babaji Jedgule Age: 10 Standard: 4th in Zillha Parishad School Saikhindi
Abhishek belongs to a poor family. His father Babaji is doing Clerical work in a Pvt. Office and mother roll bidies. Ahbishek and his family live in village Saikhindi, which is a remote and dry village.
Two years back Ahishek was an isolated boy who spoke very little, with family as well as others. He had very low confidence, and was struggling with his studies. NISD’s support class teacher and social workers identified and admitted him, when he was in 3rd standard, into the Reading Improvement Programme (Support Class). He secured 40% marks in the baseline test organised by NISD. He was not able to read, write and understand the alphabet. This lead him to poor results in class. He slowly revealed to his social worker his lack of confidence, and therefore why he would not speak to others. The Support Class teacher taught him different songs, stories , games to help him gain confidence. He also admitted in the Chotu Balpanchayat Group ( Child Parliament of Young Children). This group gave him number of friends and he started communicating with others more confidently. His increased confidence and attention helped him to complete the syllabus of Reading Improvement Part- I. He got 55 marks in that. After this, the Support Class teacher enrolled him in Reading Improvement Part-II and greater attention was paid to his studies. Due to this he got 75% marks in mid term test and 90% in the final test. Now Abhishek mixes with his friends, school mates and villagers quite easily and confidently. His reading and writing skills have improved. He is regular in the school and his school performance is also improved greatly.
Thanks to all of you for providing opportunity to NISD to bring these children in the mainstream of education and saved Abhishek from a possible dropout. Abhishek's right to education is protected through this project.
" Prajakta celebrated her birthday on the 24th of October. As this fell on a school holiday, she distributed toffees to the members of Child Parliament group of her village. On the day of her birthday, her father purchased another she goat and Prajakta named her “Fulli”.
In November, “ Children’s Day” was celebrated in her school. Prajakta and other members of the Child Parliament organised a rally in their village. They also prepared and stuck posters, in the prominent places of her village, on Child Rights, Child Education, and Equality of boys and girls.
In December NISD organised training for the members of Child Parliament groups. Group members discussed the problems of children in their village and made presentations. Prajakta took the lead, and presented problems of their village very well.
Prajakta Participated in the Educational Tour, organised by NISD, at Khodad, where one of the biggest telescopes is placed. Here children learn about what a radio telescope is, how it is prepared, it's functions and usefulness etc. Four children, along with Prajakta participated in this Educational Tour.
In January 2012 a 'Training on Joyful Education' was organised at Pokhari village, by NISD. Prajakta too participated in this training and learnt various action songs, 'advance use of different numbers', and preparation of educational material from locally available waste material. Experienced trainers teaching in a simple and joyful way meant the children enjoyed the training program very much.
In February a Cultural Program was organised in Prajakta's school, and she took part in a group song.
On 19th February Pulse Polio drive was organised in Saikhindi village. Prajakta and her child parliament group members visited 110 families and encouraged parents to take their children under 5 to polio vaccinations.
Recently election of Child Parliament took place. By noticing good work done by Prajakta, other members elected her as Chief Minister once again. The remaining body is new. Prajakta is busy training the new ministry about the values and functioning of their groups, and how they can take part in different programs."
NISD organised a Child Fair at village Pokhari. There were various programmes – cultural, play, competitions etc. Rani participated by performing a dance to a Marathi song. The local people really appreciated her dance and Rani got a cash prize for her performance.
Children’s Day was celebrated in Rani’s school. Rani and her team took an active part in the program. They organised a rally in their village and did a poster exhibition, on children’s issues.
In December a training for Child Parliament members was organised by NISD in Sangamner. Rani presented the various problems of children in her village and also expressed some of difficulties that she experiences while working in Child Parliament.
In January, Rani also took part in a project organised by the government’s Integrated Child Development Project, which aims to reduce malnutrition among adolescent girls. Her mother took part in the training too and began to understand how good nutrition can counter this problem.
Rani also took part in the Joyful Education program, organised by NISD, at village Pokhari. She learnt different action songs, plays, cross words and preparation of educational material from locally available waste material. She prepared a nice butterfly and the Guest lecturer appreciated her efforts.
Rani attended all the meetings of her Child Parliament. She gave information to other members about the programs and knowledge organised by NISD at Sangamner, information to members about their educational tour, organised Children’s Day, care of the mobile library books that are torn, etc .
Aniket Datta Kangune, Std. 6th.
Address: At. Saikhindi, Tal. Sangamner, Dist. Ahmednagar.
Aniket appeared for his preliminary school examination and the got results in December, 2011 and got first class in it. During Diwali holiday he spend his maximum time in reading and playing with his friends. A newspaper is coming in his village and he was reading the same with great care and enthusiasm. General knowledge, cross-words and reading local news was his interest.
Aniket attened Child Parliament Training, that was arranged by NISD at Sangamner. He put forth many points in the training. He also took active part in selecting, guiding and organising new body of their Child Parliament .
In January 2012, an Education Tour of Child Parliament members organised to Khodad where they saw one of the biggest telescope in the world placed there by GMRT. He wrote a note on that and gave information to the members who not able to attend the tour. While coming back from Khodad they also visited old caves and Ganpati tempal at Lenyadri.
Aniket ‘s family shifted to the new rented house, in the same village, as the house owner wanted to live in that house. Aniket helped his parents in shifting work. This new house is also in the same area.
Aniket has two she goats- Chandani and Ekadashi. Chandani gave birth to one she goat on the day of Kojagiri Pournima. As it was an important festival and day Aniket kept name of the new one as “Koja”.
Harshida's Story - aged 7
Harshada’s parents, both mother and father, are working as wage labours and whole day they are away from home. Harshada’s old grand mother is the only person at home to look after three small kids which was beyond her capacity. Their financial condition is very poor and the parents somehow manage the house expenses.
Harshada was very shy girl and was having inferiority complex. That was the reason she was not able to mix with other children. However three year back she joined in the pre-school centre, started by NISD, and there were number of changes took place in her overall personality. She started taking interest in her studies, different plays, songs etc. As her interest increased she was coming regularly in the pre-school. Her hand writing is very beautiful. She also took part in number of competitions and gain confidence.
Last June she was enrolled in the formal school in the first standard. When meet her class teacher, he told she is very clever and active girl. Her hand writing is beautiful. She sings songs, good in play, won in school competition, she is good in studies, and she never bunks her class. She is best student of our class and school. Not only that but she gives speeches very well. Comparative to other students she is very good at reading, writing, story telling, singling etc.
Harshada’s younger brother and sister also attend the pre-school regularly. Thanks to you for supporting NISD to run pre-school activities and for shaping future of displaced tribal children like Harshada.
Child’s Name: Sandeep Dnyandev Kere
Education: 10th standard
Age : 18 years
Situation before joining the course
Sandeep was residing in Nilwande village which is far from town. His financial condition was very poor. His father is a mason and mother does labour work, but their income is mostly dependent on the availability of work on that particular day. His elder brother studied till 11th standard and now he is also doing farm work. Sandeep has studied till 10th standard, but he failed in one subject. After that he did not go to school for the past two years and was instead helping parents with farming.
Sandeep heard about NISD through the project social workers. He decided to join the Electrical Repair & Maintenance of Household Appliances course. He attended the course regularly. He completed the course successfully. He has now started his own self-employment business. He recently got a contract to work in one of the houses in the village. Not only has this turned his life around and given him faith and confidence in himself, but he is able to also provide much-needed financial support to his family.
Prakash, the leader of the project sent me this story a couple of weeks ago. I found it really moving, but also incredible - how simple measures seem to be making a big difference for individuals, and by extension whole families on the ground. Here's the story of Bhagubai -
Mrs. Bhagubai Ashok Tajanpure was residing at Saikhnidi. As her husband is not educated or skilled he was working as wage labour. But it was not possible for him to maintain his family in his small earnings. Therefore Bhagubai forced to roll bidis to supplement her husband’s income. Her all three children are taking education and therefore both- husband and wife’s- income is not sufficient and they were living in extreme poverty. Their house was just like a hut, which was not safe, secure and suitable to live. In winter and rainy seasons they are facing maximum problems due to this low quality housing condition. They are always scared in nighttime.
Once Mrs. Bhagubai came in contact with NISD’s staff and enrolled her name in the SHG. NISD also helped her financially to purchase 5 goats, which afterwards increased upto 25-30. Her husband started looking after the goat as he got full time work and good and permanent income source out of goat sale, milk and manure. This increased their saving.
But still their house problem was not solved because there income was not sufficient to construct house by taking bank loan. In the SHG meeting she came to know Habitat joint housing project initiated by NISD in that area. She raised some money from her relatives, took loan from NISD Bachat Gat Mahasangh and applied to Habitat’s support. By noticing her need NISD sanctioned her proposal and assisted her. Her husband and she both worked as labour on the construction.
Now Bhagubai says that she never expected that she could build such house but because of Habitat and NISD’s support she could able to build her dream house. Now we have safe, secure and good house where we can sleep fearlessly, she added.
Let's carry on helping to make people's dreams a reality!
Ashwini, her two brothers and parents stay in Pokhari village. Her father has a small piece of land which he works on. Income used to be solely dependent on the mercy of rainfall. Ashwini is a clever girl - she used to always get good marks in her exams. After 10th standard her parents did not send her to school so she started helping her parents on the land. Her brother also started doing labour work after 10th standard. Ashwini is a member of the youth group and during one meeting she came to know about the Hospital Assistant course.
Ashwini’s family did not have proper housing. The project helped them to build a house through a Habitat housing project, and also helped them in the development of dairy business. As a result their business increased.
The social worker of the project talked with Ashwini’s parents about sending her for further education. But as her parents were reluctant, he gave them information about the Hospital Assistant course that NISD was planning to start. He convinced them to send Ashwini for this course. Her mother agreed in the end. Ashwini was also happy - at least she could get some education, so she agreed to do course which she completed successfully.
She completed the course successfully and has got a job in a hospital where she gets a monthly salary of Rs. 2000/-. Ashwini and her parents are very happy through just a three-month course, Ashwini got a good job and is contributing to her family income.
Name: Sunil Vitthal Ghule
Course - Electrical & Home Appliances Repair
Education: 9th standard
Situation before participating in the project: Sunil resides in Pokhari village. His father is doing labour work, his mother does house work and his elder brother is in the first year of his degree course. Sunil failed in the 9th standard and he left school. He used to do jobs like feeding the cows and getting water or go with his father for labour work.
Sunil failed in 9th std and stopped going to school. Project staff tried convincing him to go to school, but did not succeed. When NISD staff were giving information about vocational training courses to be started for the youth, his mother was present. She gave information about the course to Sunil and motivated him. Sunil was not very convinced, so he met NISD staff and got detailed information. Once convinced he decided to complete the course. He took admission for the Electrical & Home Appliances Repair course and completed this 3 month duration course successfully.
Present Situation: Though Sunil completed the course and is willing to work in a near town, dyu but due to his father’s sickness, he is not able to go out for work. This has forced Sunil to work in the same village, and work in their field as well as look after their animals. So despite Sunil now being trained to work in better conditions, he is as yet unable to. We have hopes that he will be able to in the future.
In June I posted the story of Aniket. Here's a recent update on his progress -
Aniket’s favourate subject is Hindi. Recently he appeared for quarterly examination, conducted by his school and got very good marks. His class teacher, Mrs. Kharde says now Aniket is very confident and is doing well.
Aniket and his friends recently organised the Ganesh festival for which they brought a statue. They also organised different game competitions such as Kho-Kho, Kabbadi etc. In the meanwhile, he also took the opportunity to visit Mumbai, with his relative, and had a great experience of seeing Mumbai’s Ganesh festival. He was very much impressed by seeing the huge Ganesh statues and decorations.
Aniket regularly attends Child Parliament meetings. In a few days they are going to conduct election of their Child Parliament. Lots of the children are now busy preparing for the election.
Aniket still likess to play on his bicycle very much. He many times requesst his father to take him for bike rides. His father helps motivate him to finish his schoolwork with the promise of a bike ride! He also likes to look after his goats. His family owns two female goats named Ekadashi and Chandani. He also loves to help his mother in her daily work.
Rani’s parents reside in Pokhari haveli village. Her father does Painting work. This work is not on a regular basis.
Similarly her mother also does labour work in the fields of rich farmers whenever available. Rani’s mother is a member of a Self- help group, and through her group and NISD’s support they have pioneered a number of schemes - such as constructing a toilet, soak pit etc. She also got a loan for buying a cow which helped the family to get additional income through the sale of the milk.
Rani is very good in study and got first class in her 6th examination. Her handwriting is beautiful and she got first prize in the Child Fair program, organised by NISD recently. She also takes part in street plays. Recently she played the role of a farmer in a street play named “ I should help our own”. Her role and acting was praised by many people.
In Pokhari village there is school up to 6th standard. After this, all children have to go to the neighbouring village i.e. Vadgaon Pan which is about 2-3 km away. Due to this many children, particularly girls, leave school and become drop-outs as their parents do not want to send adolescent girls to distant places. This was the worry in Rani’s case, but NISD staff and Rani herself repeatedly insisted that her parents let her attend school in the neighbouring
village. Now Rani will join in the new school and hopefully complete her future education. Your support enabled NISD to save one clever girl from becoming a school drop-out.
Prajakta Mangal's Story - Aged 14
Prajakta’s family consists with her father, mother and two brothers. Her father is a tractor driver and mother goes on daily wages. Father’s job is on temporary basis and mother’s work is also not on regular one. So it is difficult for them to run family expenses and feed three children.
Mrs. Mangal, is a member of Self Help Group and through the group, NISD provided them a loan of Rs. 12,500/- from that they constructed a small one room where they stay presently. Their elder daughter Prajakta is studying in 9th std. Earlier Prajakta was a very shy girl and not mix with friends and other people. She was always prefer to stay alone. When Prajakta was in 7th one day she went with her neighbour girl to attend the meeting of Child Parliament of their village named “jeevandeep Balpanchayat gat”. Thereafter she started coming regularly for the meetings and became member of the group. Her increased interest in Parliament group changed her behaviour and she started taking active part in various activities organised by NISD and her Parliament group such as developing Kitchen Gardens, street play, educational tour etc. Now Prajakta is a very confident and active member of this group.
By seeing her leadership qualities, her group members elected her as Chief Minister of their group. Prajakta also encouraged her two brothers and other children to become members of the Child Parliament Group. She very effectively performs responsibilities of her group. Prajakta encourage and motivate girls to complete their education and a encourage parents to send girls in the school. Prajakta wants to be a teacher and take lead in girls education.
Unicef has acknowledged that caste remains a key factor in illiteracy in India. The following article can be found directly here: http://www.unicef.org/india/children_2359.htm
Despite a major improvement in literacy rates during the 1990s, the number of children who are not in school remains high. Gender disparities in education persist: far more girls than boys fail to complete primary school.
The literacy rate jumped from 52 per cent in 1991 to 65 per cent in 2001. The absolute number of non-literates dropped for the first time and gross enrollment in government-run primary schools increased from over 19 million in the 1950s to 114 million by 2001.
90 million females in India are illiterate, but 20 percent of children aged 6 to14 are still not in school and millions of women remain non-literate despite the spurt in female literacy in the 1990s.
Several problems persist: issues of ‘social’ distance – arising out of caste, class and gender differences – deny children equal opportunities. Child labour in some parts of the country and resistance to sending girls to school remain real concerns.
School attendance is improving: more children than ever between the ages of 6 and 14 are attending school across the country. The education system faces a shortage of resources, schools, classrooms and teachers.
There are also concerns relating to teacher training, the quality of the curriculum, assessment of learning achievements and the efficacy of school management. Given the scarcity of quality schools, many children drop out before completing five years of primary education; many of those who stay on learn little.
Girls belonging to marginalized social and economic groups are more likely to drop out of school at an early age.
With one upper primary school for every three primary schools, there are simply not enough upper primary centres even for those children who complete primary school. For girls, especially, access to upper primary centres becomes doubly hard.
I came across this research by Healthbridge who have conducted fieldwork into the issue of the Bidi-rolling in India.
To access the full report, just follow this link: http://www.healthbridge.ca/tobacco_poverty_Appendix%205%20India%20Final%20Research%20Report.pdf
The tobacco industry often boasts that tobacco growing generates employment and provides positive economic benefits to farmers and others. But the actual facts are quite different. Though a labour intensive industry, its wages are one of the lowest in the country at Rs 17,898 per annum. A large part of the industry also comes under the unorganized sector where wages are often fixed arbitrarily and where unending flow of unskilled labour keep wages low.
The majority of the profits, therefore, remain with the large manufacturers. Farmers often believe that tobacco will prove to be a profitable cash crop; however they often find themselves caught in a cycle of poverty and debt. Serious health risks, hard working conditions, contractual arrangements, the use of children in tobacco growing, and the environmental practices of tobacco growing have negative impacts on human capital and land, the two crucial assets for rural livelihoods. There are also many occupational hazards faced by those working in the tobacco fields, including health hazards such as green tobacco sickness, pesticide exposure and nicotine poisoning. And, while tobacco farming is not unique in its use of child labour, the particular hazards posed by tobacco cultivation places these children at increased risk of injury and illness. The production of bidis (small, inexpensive, hand-rolled cigarettes made from cheap tobacco and rolled in tendu leaf, commonly smoked in India) involves intensive labour: growing tobacco, plucking/collecting tendu leaves and rolling and packaging the bidis. While no accurate statistics are available, the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) has estimated that in India more than 6 million farmers and 20 million farm labourers are engaged in tobacco farming, spread across 15 states. Bidi rolling provides employment to an estimated 4.4 million people, in addition to 2.2 million tribal workers involved in tendu leaf collection. Further, nearly 4 million people are engaged in the wholesale and retail sale of tobacco.
Bidis harm not only those who smoke them; everyone connected with bidi manufacturing faces various health and occupational hazards. Bidis are mostly rolled at home where rollers expose their entire family (including newborns and children) to harmful tobacco dust and fumes. Most bidi workers suffer from chronic respiratory problems, skin problems, green tobacco sickness, asthma, TB, eye ailments and chronic backache. Bidi workers are largely illiterate and live below the poverty line, struggling each day to earn enough to feed their families two meals. They do not have health cards and therefore cannot access treatment at hospitals. Instead of paving a way out of poverty, bidi work simply allows for subsistence at the most marginal level. Most of the workers are women and children, already vulnerable and exploited groups, with no access to educational or other career opportunities. Deprived of a normal childhood, it is not only their size which is typically stunted; these children become the core of a repetitive cycle of systemic poverty.
NISD’s project is unique in comparison to other children’s education projects because here we want to educate children, particularly girls, that will save them from hazardous bidi rolling business. It will break the vicious cycle of poverty- early marriages-early and repeated pregnancies-unhealthy children-school drop out- bidi rolling and again poverty. NISD wants to bring all these children in the school, retain them in the school, give them life and employable skills so that they will not come in bidi business and break this cycle.
Nisd really tackle the root causes of poverty by addressing the complex web of problems that trap children into it.
Prakash, leader of the project in India, tells us about the biggest changes that he has seen during his time there:
Question: What are the biggest changes that you have seen during the years of being involved in the project?
When we started our work we could see many young children are with their mothers in the Bidi factories when she was rolling bidies. Children sleep, eat, play in the tobacco atmosphere which was hazardous for their health. Not only that but children were exposed to tobacco dust since they are in mother’s womb. But due to continuous awareness and motivation now bidi rollers understands the dangers of tobacco and keep their children either in pre-school centres or at home, when they role bidies.
Earlier when we used to asked mothers about future of their children, particularly girls, they use to say that she will roll bidies. But if you ask any woman in NISD Project area she will say that I don’t want to bring my daughter in this hazardous work i.e. bidi rolling.
Earlier Money Lenders were very common in these villages. They used to give loans ( on very high interest rates) to these women and exploiting them. NISD started Self Help Groups in these villages and now there are around 100 Self Help Groups in our project villages. These SHGs now cater the loan need of these women and money lending system is abolished completely in NISD’s project villages. SHGs not only fulfilled monetary needs but also built their unity and solved number of social and other problems of women and children of these villages
With your continued support, we can carry on bringing about meaningful and lasting change.
Prakash, the project leader was kind enough to answer some questions that I asked him about his involvement and experience with the project.
Question: How and why did you become involved in this work?
After completing my MA in Economics I decided to go for Master of Social Work (MSW). After receiving MSW degree I worked with grass root NGO for 4 years, funding organisation for another four years and there after decided to start a small work where I can use my education, experience and knowledge for the betterment of down trodden people of my area. I belong to Sangamner area so I started my work there. Since my child hood I was seeing processions and marches of Bidi Rollers for their lawful rights and was slightly aware with their problems. Sangamner is a pocket where bidi business is concentrated and women of around 50 villages are earning bread by rolling bidies. In the initial stage I got support from OXFAM to conduct an action research on Problems of Bidi Rollers which helped me to learn more about their problems .
Question: What is your vision for the children involved in your project?
Bidi Rolling is a cycle and after mother or mother-in-law the daughter or daughter-in-law take over this work. I thought that NISD was small agency so we couldn't provide meaningful employment to bidi rollers to keep them away from hazardous work. But we can bring some comfort in their lives by way of taking different activities. However I was very sure that we can at least save the lives of young generation and stop them to come in this business. This is possible by taking steps on children’s health, education and skill building program.
My and NISD’s vision is “We want a world where inequality based on class, gender and religion is absent and no person will get exploited by any one. We want a world where basic needs become basic rights and where poverty and all forms of exploitation are eliminated. Each person will have the opportunity to develop her or his full potential and creativity, which will lead him/her towards sustainable development.”
NAME: Aniket Dattatray Kangune. Age- 12 years
Aniket and his family resides at Village Saikhindi. His father is a wage labourer and his mother rolls bidis to earn their daily bread. They live in a small one room rented house. Their financial condition is very poor.
Aniket’s health was very poor when he was small. NISD organised a pediatric camp in his village and Aniket was diagnosed with a small hole in his heart. The doctor suggested an operation of this six year child which was not possible for this family. Her mother was crying about Aniket’s position.
NISD staff built confidence in Aniket’s parents and encouraged them to go for further check-ups at Pune. The K.E.M. hospital, Pune doctor also confirmed the problem and advised surgery. NISD and local doctor used their contacts for concession in the operative charges. As Aniket’s mother is in the Self Help Group the group members arranged Rs. 20000 as loan from their SHG and it’s federation. The operation was done and Aniket’s problem was solved. Afterwards Aniket’s health started improving and he developed as a normal child.
Now Aniket is studying in 6th std. in the Manoharbaba Vidhyalaya in the same village i.e. Saikhindi. This is a govt. run school. NISD organised a number of programs in his schools such as computer class, yoga class, mobile library, support class and other programs. Aniket benefits from these program. Support class help him to improve his studies, reading, writing skills. He also receives support in form of educational material. Aniket is a member of Child Parliament – named Jeevandeep Balpanchayat Gat. Aniket’s younger sister, Reshma, also became member of Child Parliament. Aniket says he has a number of friends after joining the Child Parliament groups and he learns a number of good things in the groups. Recently he learned to ride a bicycle.
Aniket’s house is very close to the NISD run pre-school centre. So he always go there and helps the worker in keeping books/play material at proper place, decorate the pre-school centre, and keep the place clean and neat.
Shravan's story shows how this project is creating healthier and happier children..
Name: Shravan Prakash Wale, Aged 3
Shravan’s family is staying in village Zole. His father is a mason and his mother works as a wage labour. In the beginning, Shravan was not attending the pre-school centre, though the pre-school teacher paid severals visit to his home. The problem was that neither he nor his mother was willing to send him in to the pre-school centre. His weight was only 7.5 kg at that time, so he was a malnourished child. Due to his poor health, he used to cry continuously and so he was seen as a problematic child.
After a number of visits and discussions with his mother, the pre-school worker realised that Shravan did not receive any nutrition in addition to his mother’s milk, so his weight was not increasing. Along with other NISD Staff, the teacher offer counselling to his mum and helped to explain her son’s health problems. NISD organised a Paediatric camp and asked his mother to bring Shravan there for a check- up. Due to this, within 2 month time his weight increased by 2 kg. In the pre-school centre that he now attends, he is able to get supplementary nutrition
Now his health is improving and he is regularly coming to pre-school and getting mix with other children very well. He’s no longer seen as a ‘problem child’. His mother goes to work and can now concentrate well there, as she knows that Shravan is looked after in the pre-school very well.
Your continued generosity has improved Shravan’s health and has got him attending pre-school. There is no doubt that this educational base and improved health will allow him to do progress in his life.
I take being able to read and write so much for granted, that hearing Chaitali's story made me realise that these skills are a gift, a gift that not everyone in the world is able to have.
Chaitali's Story - Aged 8
Mr. Kailash Shinde, his wife Archana and their three children live in the village of Watkhal. The village and agricultural land was flooded with the building of the Pimpalgaon Joge Dam. This is a tribal area and as employment opportunities are almost nil, both Kailash and his wife are working as wage labourers on roads and building sites away from home.
Chaitali is the eldest daughter and has struggled in her studies. In class she was not able to recognise letters of the alphabet and this was giving her low confidence and a feeling of inferiority. Her parents and other relatives have teased Chaitali, saying that her younger sister, Vaishali is cleverer than she is. Even the teacher has been disparaging.
NISD’s Reading Improvement Programme (RIP) class teacher identified Chaitali and tested her ability. She achieved a D grade. The teacher first of all encouraged Chantal’s parents to allow her to attend regular out of school classes. Chaitali thrived in the supportive class and day by day, started showing progress in her reading and writing. Her confidence level increased and it helped her to start mixing with other children. The RIP class activity has thus helped one small girl to rebuild her confidence. Chaitali is now working hard on her education. This will definitely bring a positive change in her life.
By supporting this project, let's continue to give children like Chaitali the gift of reading and writing.
I'm sorry that it's been a while since our last update. I'm preparing for my first trip to India with Karuna to actually go and see the projects first-hand. I'm sure that I'll have lots more to share with you when I get back.
In the meantime, here is Deepali's story. You can really see how the project is helping children to build their capacities and confidence:
DEEPALI’S CASE STUDY:
The Last few weeks have been very busy for Deepali in her studies and programs.
In the mid-term examinations she worked very hard and obtained good marks, securing first class.
Deepali got number of prizes in different programmes. Pokhari village, as it’s tradition, celebrated a week long program in which Deepali took part in “Dyaneshwari Reading”. This made her popular in the village and people honoured her by organising a procession for her in their village.
In the neighbouring village Sukewadi, a National Child Training Program was organised. Deepali participated in that program and learnt different songs, plays, stories, participated in the competitions and also won a prize.
Their Child Parliament also organised a fort building competition. By making use of broken bricks and soil, Deepali build a beautiful fort and decorated it using different leaves , card board and other material. In that competition she also got a prize! Not only that, but in the School competition she took part in Kabbadi and Kho-kho ( the local sports) and got the best player award.
These prizes not only increased her joy, happiness and confidence but she became popular among villagers, school mates and children.
Their Child Parliament also organised educational picnics at two places, Sugar Factory and the Imu breeding centre. All children educated themselves about process of Sugar production- right from transportation of sugar cane to packaging of sugar cane.
In her school Deepali gave a lecture to her school mates on Personal Hygiene and Hand Washing. She also informed them about environmental sanitation and the different sickness that occurs due to unhygienic behaviour. At the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule, the great social worker in Indian Social Development, Deepali gave speech in her school assembly. Her speech was well appreciated by her school teachers and peers.
We can see positive changes in Deepli’s life because she got the opportunity through NISD’S work to grow and develop.
So this is my first post on global giving as a fundraiser for the Karuna Trust. It's clear that we have strong support here for this incredible project that really is transforming the lives of over a thousand children on the ground. Thank you very much for your continued support.
I'm happy to be able to share even a few of the many successes that this project has enjoyed over the past few months.
First and foremost, the Child Resource Centre that lies very much at the centre of this project has been completed and its activities are in full-flow! This is a massive achievement given that its construction was such a massive undertaking. The building of the Child Resource Centre was impeded at different times by a number of barriers, including a shortage of trained labourers and a surge in the prices of building materials. All's well that ends well, however! and through the determination and consistent efforts of our partner, the building is now fully in operation and has been hitting the ground running. Vocational and other training programs, counselling and a well-equipped library are some of the many initiatives that are being run from the Centre at present. You can see from the 'then' and 'now' pictures the amount of work that has gone into building this wonderful space.
At the core of this project is of course getting kids out of child labour and poverty and instead getting them into school. With the help of our local project partner, NISD, all the children of the village are now attending school. That’s up from 72% when the project work began in 2003. If you're anything like me, it's easy to let statistics like this go straight over your head, but this one really struck me. An increase of 72% over the last 7 years really is something to shout about.
The achievements that have stemmed from the consistent and concerted efforts of all stake-holders with the help of NISD in the areas of education and health are equally as impressive:
Not all positive change can or indeed should be measurable in terms of numbers. At Karuna we strongly hold that mind change, that is a change in consciousness, is needed in order to bring about meaningful social change. So feelings of self-worth and agency among our beneficiaries is one of the most important things for us. The impact of the project in this area can be best summed up by the words of the Executive Director of NISD in his recent progress update:
NISD is also experiencing success in making changes in the mindsets of local people, particularly about the burning issues of child care and development, child participation and child protection. Now people are actually starting to think and are also paying attention to child-related issues, committed to securing a brighter future for their children. The bidi rolling women had very little expectations about the future of their girls as they were resigned to the likelihood that their daughters would start working as bidi rollers too. Now, however, these women have started to think that there girls will not actually enter into this hazardous line of work. On the contrary, they want to educate their girls so that they can enter into other lines of work.
When considered in the context of a society highly stratified along the lines of gender and caste, such changes are not merely a small step, but a big leap.
I hope that you will share in our happiness at the progress that is being made and as ever, thank you for your continued support.
Hi, I am very pleased to report that thanks to your generosity we have now reached our initial online target of raising $10,000 for children living in poverty around Sangamner, Maharashtra.
We can all be proud that:
As per the original plan of providing benefit to 750 children, through 30 crèches, the project is now providing support to 762 children in this way.
27 out of school support classes are taking place each evening, helping 458 children who are not doing so well in their studies, to catch up in school.
3,067 school children have benefited from health checks. Medicines have been given to 1958 children. And thanks to these checks, 27 boys and girls have been referred to doctors for further treatment.
Whilst it is fantastic news that we are achieving our goals, there is still plenty work to do. Karuna has funded the capital build of a Child Rights Centre in Sangamner, which is being project managed by our partner, the National Institute of Sustainable Development (NISD). The building will be complete and ready for use by the end of August 2010.
The Child Rights Centre will bring together parents, local authorities, village leaders, teachers, and governors, who will work together to get children out of labor and into school. Karuna is committed to funding this project until at least March 2012. Before March 2011, we still have $28,000 to raise and I am hopeful we will fund $10,000 of this through the Global Giving website.
To do this I could really do with some more of your generous help. Please consider telling your friends and family about our project - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation. You know your friends and family best, so use your own words - tell them why you chose our project and what it means to you.
Thank you again for all you have done to help this cause.
Thanks so much for the generous donations over the past week since I last updated you. I did get a little over excited and suggested we needed less than $1,000 to achieve our target. I’m sorry for the slight over-optimism.
To clarify, we have now received total funding of $8,454 to date. We have a remaining goal of $1,546 to be funded. Our total Funding Goal is $10,000.
If you have any suggestions how to achieve that last bit please let me know. I’d love to hear from you. Spread the word.
Thanks so much for your support. We’ve nearly hit our target. We now need less than $1,000. If you have any suggestions how to achieve that last bit please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
I am very pleased to report that, thanks to your generosity, children living in the villages around Sangamner, India are growing in confidence and that is being reflected in their school results.
Take Deepali aged 13, for example who you will remember from our last report. Deepali has just achieved 72.33% in her 7th grade examinations. Her marks were: Marathi (her local language) – 81, Math – 61, Environment Studies – 55, Social Studies – 53, English- 71, Hindi- 76, Drawing - 83, Work Experience – 84 and Physical Education 87, giving a total of 651 marks out of 900.
Deepali is very pleased with her success but it is tinged with sadness as she will soon be leaving the school which she has been attending for the last seven years as it only teaches up to seventh standard. Her parents and NISD staff are trying to get admission for Deepali in a new school, which is 2 km away from her village, Pokhari. Deepali is hoping that some of her friends will also join her at the same school.
By funding this project you have helped Deepali and her friends attend play center activities. These activities include reading, and painting. The benefits have certainly been reflected in Deepali’s school results.
You will also be pleased to hear that Deepali’s Child Parliamentary group participated in an international initiative called Global Action Week. Through the Global Action Week program our project partner, NISD links with many international organisations united in working for child rights and development throughout the world. During this week, activities for children are organised on a particular theme to give broader publicity. Last year's theme was Education for All and Deepali’s Child Parliament performed a street play. Deepali received a prize for the best performer.
On behalf of Deepali and the all the other children benefiting from your support, thank you.
Prakash Palande & Robert Beard
During Diwali celebrations children from well off families in the city area build or purchase forts. They make these forts from mud and decorate them with artificial trees, people, the military, horses, animals and so many other things. The members of Balpanchayat group decided to organize their own Fort Building Competition. Dipali was responsible for organizing this and around 24 children participated in making and decorating these holiday Diwali forts. At the end of the competition some small prizes were distributed amongst the children and Dipali was able to successfully complete her duties in organizing and seeing the event through to its end. In other learning experience the parliamentary group members decided to organize a study of two different Dairy Co-operatives and learn about their work. They divided into two groups and each group visited one of two village dairies. They observed and tried to understand all the processes of milk collection, chilling etc. and to learn from that. Then both the groups came together and shared their learning with each other. This provided a good learning experience for the children.
Dipali’ interest in her studies has increased as she has studied more regularly. She motivates other children to study and helps them if they have difficulties. In the half yearly examination she was very pleased to get a first class mark.
In December the block level Educational Department organized a ‘Math-Science Exhibition’ and asked all schools to participate in the competition. Dipali participated on behalf of her school. She prepared her exhibition on one of the local pulses and its nutritional value for the human body. Her project received first prize in the 5th to 7th standard at block level and became eligible to participate at the District level. At the district level of competition, where selected block level school projects were displayed, she did not get any prize but was awarded with a certificate. She reported that she was very happy to be able to learn a number of things from the other children’s projects. Her confidence and interest in science has now greatly increased.
Dipali and her Child Parliamentary group are active in social work. On January 10th the Government decided to give a polio vaccination to all eligible children under 5 years of age. Dipali’s group divided into two and visited all the houses with children below 5 year of age. In two days they visited every household and asked parents to bring their children for a ‘pulse polio dose’ explaining how this dose will help protect the child from polio. On the day of the ‘pulse polio dose’ vaccinations they also helped the Government personnel in keeping discipline and provided whatever help they could and this was much appreciated by all involved.
NISD organized a visit of members of the Child Parliamentary Groups to several villages. They visited ‘Anandwan Vidhyalaya, Nashik’ which is well known for preparing educational and other materials. The Child Parliamentary Group members learnt how to produce different materials from these teachers.
Dipali is now more confident and takes the lead in many different activities. She is a very active member of her Parliament and as a consequence is respected within her group as well as in the school. Her mother is very happy and proud to see Dipali’s progress and thanked NISD and Karuna Trust for their efforts in developing the children’s potential.
Having just returned from India I am pleased to share this story of one of the girls your generosity is helping to support.
Dipali Shinde’s story
Sitting on a wooden bench, dressed in her school uniform, 13 year old Dipali Shinde looks like an ordinary school girl. Away from school; however, this talented and dedicated teenager, has helped to transform her village of Pokhari into a model rural community which demonstrates good hygiene and sanitation.
Since the age of eight, Dipali has played an active role in the village Balpanchayat. This Child Parliament was formed under the supervision of Karuna project partner NISD and as Minister for Sanitation and Hygiene Dipali is responsible for protecting fellow children of the village against illness by ensuring the teaching of good hygiene practices and lobbying householders to improve sanitation.
Dipali explains a little about the group and her role.
Why are children taking responsibility for issues usually dealt with by grown ups?
If the grown ups dealt with these issues we wouldn’t have to. Our Balpanchayat is for the protection of children. We want to live in a village which is safe and clean for children. Before we started no households had toilets. People used to go to the toilet anywhere and children and adults had bad hygiene practices.
By holding rallies and teaching good hygiene practices through street plays we have made a big difference. Now all households have toilets and children know to cut their nails, to clean their hands after using the toilet and how to keep food and water clean.
What difference has that made to children’s health?
Children would often be ill with vomiting, headaches and diarrhoea. Children got illnesses like Dengi, Malaria and Typhoid. Now it is much less common.
You seem to know a lot about the effects of poor hygiene and sanitation?
Yes, I want to be a doctor when I leave school. I want to provide better health to those who are sick.
What is the biggest health risk now?
A lot of households do not have soak pits for waste water. Instead the water goes onto the ground. It then becomes stagnant which attracts mosquitoes, which carry disease.
What are you doing about the problem?
We are campaigning householders to dig soak pits. They are six feet deep and filled with broken bricks and stones. If every household does this we will have no more stagnant pools and many less mosquitoes.
What message do you have for supporters of Karuna?
We know we are very fortunate. Not many children have this opportunity. Thank you for giving us the chance to do this. If you keep giving, more children can be helped in this way.
NISD is a project partner of Karuna, committed to giving children living in poverty in 150 villages across rural Sangamner and Pimpalgaon Joge, Maharashtra the opportunity to enjoy better health, education and equal rights.
Thank you for your generous on going support.
Thank you so much for supporting this project which I recently had the privilege of visiting.
Many of the children and families benefiting from your generosity live in a rather rural part of Maharashtra. Although only 150 miles from my starting point of Pune, the poor condition of the road meant a journey of several hours to reach a cluster of villages, displaced by the building of the Pimpalgaon Joge dam.
These villages represent one of the two key activity areas for the project, the other being the slum villages on the outskirts of the large town of Sangamner 70 miles away.
On first seeing the large expanse of water which has been created by the completion of the dam, I was fooled into thinking that this was a valuable resource which must be of benefit to the local community. I was wrong.
Underneath the water are the lost villages and fertile fields which once were home and larder to generations of this proud and previously self sufficient community.
At a village meeting, members of the local community painted the wider picture of the true nature of the significant negative effect of the construction of the dam.
The water for a start, I was told, is not fit for drinking without significant treatment. New villages have had to be established on the sides of the hill and the new land being claimed for agricultural use is unlevel and infertile. Until the project started, none of the households had drinking water or sanitation.
With no income through agriculture, the villagers have been forced to start day laboring. This work usually involves many days away from their homes and families, working long hours, for little pay, constructing and repairing highways.
Thanks to your support, I witnessed a JCB digger being used to level the land and so prepare it for agricultural use. The village I visited now boasts outside toilets for 80% of the homes. The same village now also has its own water supply complete with purifying system. I found it incomprehensible to think that these villagers had previously been walking for miles to find suitable water for drinking.
The mood of the village meeting was subdued as it is going to be a number of years before they will really know what the new land will produce. Having said that, there was certainly hope and much appreciation for the support they have been receiving from our donors for their village.
On reaching Sangamner I was fortunate enough to meet Sairaj, Prime Minister and his Ministers of the Pokhari village Child Parliament (beneficiaries of the project). Sairaj explained to me some of the issues facing children of the village, including malnourishment and school drop outs. He explained that the parliament meets weekly to identify issues and find solutions.
One significant problem, he explained, is that girls are being withdrawn from school early (aged 12 -14) and are not being allowed to complete their education.
The parliament devised a street play to show to parents. The play highlighted the problems of school drop out as well as the benefits of allowing girls to complete their education. Sairaj also explained that a representation party of the parliament visits families to understand their fears and encourage them to allow girls to complete their education.
The skills these children get from the Child Parliament are considerable. They learn how society operates, how village law works, how to engage with adults, how to present arguments, what their rights are and how to speak in public, to name but a few.
In all the projects I visited, these children, aged 11 to 16 years old were the most engaging, socially active and confident I met during my month long visit. Meeting these children gives me confidence that your generous donation is going to a very worthwhile cause. Thank you again for your continued support.
As a key stakeholder in this project, we would really appreciate your considered feedback. How could we attract more people to this project? What inspires you to support it? What can we do better?
The difference you are making is significant and really appreciated. Thank you.
A story of one of the beneficiaries that exemplifies the work of the project:
Bhagubai [age 42] from Saikhindi village belongs to a very poor family. Her husband works on daily wages and Bhagubai works in the Bidi-rolling factory to make ends meet. She could continue schooling only till 3rd standard after which she had to leave school to support her family.
With the help of Karuna NISD started working with the women in the Bidi factory. At that time Bhagubai attended all the awareness programs conducted by the organization; later becoming involved in a Self Help Group (SHG). She attended almost all the trainings organised by NISD and the Income generation training proved to be a turning point in her life. With the guidance provided she decided to start her own income generation to support her family income. Her SHG group sanctioned her loan application, giving her loan of Rs.10,000 for a goat herd. She started her small goat herd from which she obtained milk for children, goats for sale, female goats to expand her herd and also manure for her small farm.
As she started getting a good income she repaid the loan easily. She also leveled her three acre uneven barren land and made it productive. By keeping some money aside and taking a further loan from the SHG, in 2006 the family dug a well in their land. Because of water availability and their hard work they started getting even more income from their land.
Bhagubai’s financial status improved but still she wished to have a good house for her family because her house was just a hut, which was not safe and secure. Bhagubai got information in her SHG meeting about a housing program assisted by Habitat for Humanity. She had some savings but her SHG group did not have access to sufficient funds to support her. So she applied for a loan from the SHG Federation. Seeing her track record the Federation sanctioned her loan application and she constructed a house in 2007.
Bhagubai and her husband do not want their children to face the problems they faced due to poverty. They want to give them a good education. Bhagubai has reduced her bidi-rolling work and is now concentrating on her goats and on agriculture, which give her family a better standard of living.