Karuna Trust

Our vision is of a world without prejudice, in which every human being has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background or beliefs. We aim to do this by challenging the ignorance and prejudice that trap people in poverty.
Apr 19, 2013

Sunderbai's story

Sunderbai
Sunderbai

Dear Donors,

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.   

Apr 15, 2013

Rani's House

Rani
Rani's house

Dear Donors,

When working with grassroot projects such as this, you regularly come across situations so moving, they make you stop and reconsider your life. This happens quite a lot actually.

I have always known that Dr Mune's team of women come from the same slum communities as the young girls which they are helping, though I had not always appreciated what this meant. This puts them in the best position to help for many reasons. They themselves have had to go through the same discrimination and lack of opportunity, and therefore are perfect role models. They also live amongst the girls, in the very same neighbourhoods, and so both can see the reality of each others' life on a regular basis. 

Rani is one such woman. She has been working for the team and the project for 3 years or so, and is responsible for co-ordinating many of the project activities. Her father having died, she overcame a lot to earn complete her education, find employment and support her mother. She now earns a living through helping to empower girls in the slums.

As we walk around the neighbourhood, someone points out that this is Rani's house. I am amazed. The haphazard arrangement of brick and corrugated iron is among the poorest of the houses which we see (of which there are many). We go inside, where Rani's mother is delighted to receive us. 

She tells me how proud she is of her daughter, and how difficult things have been in the years since Rani's father passed away. She's especially happy because this year they have saved enough to repair the roof. I ask her what she means and she points to a corner of the house. The roofing has come away from the brickwork and for the last 2 years when it rains, water has come flooding into the house. The house itself is tiny anyway - basically one room, separated into 2 - a small kitchen and a living/sleeping area. 

Through working for the project, Rani can not only support her mother, but has also been able to save for the costly roof repairs. This flies in the face of everything girls here are told they are capable of.

This project is empowering not only the beneficiaries - the slums girls - but also the staff themselves. Women like Rani, who are the first generation of informed and independent young women to emerge from the slums, are the real changemakers you are supporting with your donations. Thank you.

Where the water comes in
Where the water comes in
Mar 13, 2013

Education, Sanitation, and Globalgiving donation matching

Beneficiaries in front of toilet
Beneficiaries in front of toilet

Dear Donors,

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,

Keval Shah.

Sanitation poster
Sanitation poster

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