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.
Aug 7, 2008

The story of Mrs Bhagubai Ashok Tajanpure

Mrs. Bhagubai Tajanpure with her goats.
Mrs. Bhagubai Tajanpure with her goats.

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.

May 14, 2008

Trucking in the Himalayas

Working in the high altitude Himalayas is more precarious than most other areas. Weather patterns limit project implementation to 6-8 months per year, as these areas are cut off by heavy snows during the winter months. In addition, global warming is causing weather patterns to change. This has meant that in April work has been slower than expected due to unseasonable weather, such as heavy rainfall in the Western Himalayas, and snowfall in the Eastern Himalayas. The target for the Himalayan Education project this year is to establish 87 schools in remote villages, in addition to the 49 set up last year. So far 63 villages have been mobilized for school establishment and community buildings selected for the school. In 36 villages Village Education Committees have been set up of prominent community members and these have been trained in their roles: raising awareness of education in the village, maintaining the standards of the school, ensuring girl and disabled children are going to school. While this work continues in the mountains, at the head offices in Gurgaon (close to Delhi) procurement of education materials and furniture for the 87 schools is under way. Over the next few months these will be trucked out to the remote villages. Our partner has learned from last year's experience of sending trucks out with the supplies, but them not arriving for weeks or months, since some drivers got lost and some found it was a nice opportunity to take in the scenery. This year project staff will be traveling with the drivers to make sure they get to their destination as quickly as they can - sight-seeing can be done afterwards! Also in the Head Office, much work is being done to develop a curriculum that this culturally and environmentally appropriate to the Himalayas. It is hoped that this will be a key factor in building the confidence of Himalayan people, and result in greater education attainment since children will have greater interest in learning, rather than feeling defeated by a complex curriculum which isn't in their native language and is inappropriate to their lifestyles. To complement this, work is being done to develop vocational training courses to diversify livelihood options and provide alternatives to subsistence farming. These courses include eco-tourism, local crafts production, food and dairy processing, electronics, photography, among others.

Apr 9, 2008

A further 87 supplementary schools in the Himalayas

Children
Children's dance in Demul village, Spiti

Thank you again for your support for the Himalayan education project; below is some latest news on developments...

The coming year is an ambitious one for the project since we aim to establish 87 supplementary schools and 13 Resource Centers in remote Himalayan villages from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal in the far east of India.

The challenge is increased as our team has to implement their work during the summer season before the snows come and block the passes to high altitude areas for between four to six months.

However, our team are very used to working with such constraints, and the scale of the work will be made easier since a smaller number of facilities were successfully established last year: 49 supplementary schools and 5 Resource Centers. Presently in the Himalayas the snows are starting to thaw so most of the team are in place to begin working on this year's activities. In all areas the sites for the new schools have been selected and village education committees, comprised of prominent and interested community members, are being trained on their responsibility to maintain the new school's facilities and smooth functioning, and for raising awareness among the village about the importance of education and how local people should be taking advantage of the supplementary school. An innovative dimension to this project is that 10 of the supplementary schools this year will be mobile (3 mobile schools were set up last year). These directly address the nomadic lifestyle of many people living in the Himalayas. Instead of having to send children out of the community to get educated, the new schools and teacher will travel with nomads as they move during the year. This way children can receive an education whilst remaining in their community, and benefit from the curriculum which has been designed to be culturally-relevant and culturally-specific. Through the Resource Centers, a number of courses will be run to stimulate employment opportunities among youth and to raise awareness of social, environmental, and cultural issues. Courses will be run for youth in business skills and photography, with a view to earning income from the increasing tourist trade. Locally relevant courses will be held on first aid and reading and writing of bhoti, the local language which is a dialect of Tibetan. We feel confident that the coming year will be successful in delivering these aims and contribute to the education and overall wellbeing of thousands of children from remote Himalayan communities.

Mountains in Spiti
Mountains in Spiti
Girl in Rogi village, Kinnaur
Girl in Rogi village, Kinnaur
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