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.
Feb 1, 2010

NISD Child Parliamentary Group

Deepali busy in her studies
Deepali busy in her studies

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.

Playing with other gourp members
Playing with other gourp members
Deepali receives prize in Science-math Competition
Deepali receives prize in Science-math Competition
Oct 8, 2009

Thank you - an update from the field

Having just returned from India I am pleased to report that this project continues to give much needed support to women who are experiencing caste discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

It saddens me; however, to report that our project partner continues to receive many requests for assistance from young women who have been subjected to despicable sexual assaults from men of higher castes. These heinous crimes continue because there is little or no redress under a rural legal system which is largely ignored by police and local authorities.

It is for this reason that our project partner works tirelessly to bring criminals and their protectors, including police and doctors to justice.

In my last report I shared the story of Diksha Ashruba Shinde and her sister Panchshila of Shindi village, Beed District. The sisters were violently assaulted by a group of nine men in an unprovoked caste attack. Both Diksha and Panchshila were punched in the face and chest and beaten with sticks and iron rods.

Thanks to the work of this project, the doctor who refused to admit the sisters to the Kaij Rural Hospital was suspended from work and five police constables and one police inspector were suspended from work under section (4) of prevention of Atrocities Act.

The project’s team have also successful won compensation from local government for the sisters as a result of their advocacy work. The project’s publicity of the case drew the State Home Minister of Maharashtra to make an unprecedented declaration that any village accused of repeated atrocities would find its development fund frozen by government.

If there is a silver lining to this case it is that, with the help of the project, both Diksha and Panchshila, have fought to turn disaster into opportunity. Both sisters have enrolled for and been selected to attend Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work in Mumbai, where they will train in order to dedicate themselves to the empowerment and development of Dalit Women.

Thank you for your continued generous support for this project. Your generosity is giving young women like Diksha and Panchshila a voice and bringing criminals to justice.

Oct 8, 2009

Dipali's story

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.

Dipali with the child parliament
Dipali with the child parliament

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