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.
Jul 26, 2011

Taking the lead


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.

Jul 25, 2011

Empowering adolescent girls


A reminder of what this project is trying to do. More details can be found on Karuna's website:


The average time a women in South Asia will attend school is 1.8 years.

Recent research in India suggests that two thirds of women who lives in slums have anaemia and vitamin A deficiency due to poor nutrition.

India has the highest malnutrition rate in the world- it affects a quarter of the population.

The Vishrantwadi project is a health education project; it is working to reverse the current trends and improve the lack of adequate health and education provision for women. The Vishrantwadi Project was setup and is run and managed by women for the advancement of women, it was the first project setup by the Women’s Social and Dhamma project. The aim of the project is to improve the lives of women by addressing some of the most common problems such as- reducing malnutrition, promoting self-confidence, eradicating incidents of domestic violence and increasing the autonomy of women.

The project works in 10 slums in the Pune area; it has set up a women’s committee in each slum. The slum committees work together with the Vishrantwadi project to improve awareness and access to healthcare. In recent years, the committees have run a number of health camps and nutrition awareness sessions which offer practical solutions to local health issues such as sanitation, clean water, pollution and sexual health. The results have been very encouraging; women are now taking a greater responsibility for health issues within their families. By becoming more health and hygiene conscious communities are able to reduce the prevalence of disease and vermin.


The other major undertaking of the Vishrantwadi project is a one year education course that is offered to girls in the slums. There are many financial and social reasons which explain why women in India are prevented from finishing school- the Vishrantwadi education project is offering girls a second chance. The project takes a practical approach to education- one of the major focus of the project is the health awareness programme, there is an acceptance that most of the girls will have families at a young age; girls are therefore given practical lessons on caring for a family in the slums. This includes basic hygiene, nutrition, first aid, sexual health lessons as well as pre and post-natal advice.

The education programme has a varied syllabus; it addresses and prepares girls with skills that they are likely to use in life such as- household budgeting, negotiation, self-esteem and legal rights specifically regarding domestic violence and caste prejudice. Finally, the programme works with local training centres and employers to give girls vocational training and work experience. Women benefit from lessons in sewing, computer training (in association with the Karuna Computer Education Centre), entrepreneurship and accountancy.

Jul 19, 2011

Caste as a barrier to 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.

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