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 6, 2011

'I can stand on my own two feet now'

I'm back at the Karuna office now in London and have just managed to go over my notes from my visit to the project. I was lucky enough to meet Sonali and her family at her home and she shared some of her experiences with me. I went with Karunaprabha, the leader of the project - she was very handy as my Hindi is not 100%!

For me, Sonali is real testimony to the possibility that can lie before girls like her. I hadn't quite understood how important skills training is for girls like her. In her case, it really does seem like a passport to a better, more meaningful life. Here is a short bit from the interview that I did with her -

What is the best thing about the WEP? (Women’s Empowerment Project)

The best thing about the project is all the information that we get about so many important issues. We get good exposure to the outside world. I can stand on my own two feet now and feel financially empowered. Now I even have a job, I work in a mall – I do billing work.

[Karunaprabha tells me that she never used to speak up and was chronically shy two years ago. Now she is cheery and confident]

What are your hopes for the future?

My hopes now are to do something for my whole family, to make their experience of life better and to do something for myself. After the life-skills course, my confidence has just turned around. I can communicate really well with customers now. My hopes for the project now are that they could run new classes for vocational training and more advanced computer and life skills classes.

I also got to visit one of the life skills classes and see how that works in reality - probably the highlight of my visit to the project. I loved how informal and comfortable the set-up was, which is reflected in how at ease and relaxed the girls appeared. So from what I learnt, the whole idea behind these classes are to give the girls a safe space in which to bring up and explore all sorts of issues in their lives - I mean all sorts, ranging from things like learning new hairstyles and talking about the latest Bollywood films to sharing experiences about domestic violence within the home.

I asked the girls if any of them wanted to share any reflections that they had about the life skills classes. Here is some of what they came up with: 

‘I love coming to class, especially when they take us on trips to places like the bank and the police’

‘If any girl has a problem, we can all talk about it together and help them. It’s really good to share things’

‘Here we can talk about things that we couldn’t talk about with our parents’

 ‘I like coming here and meeting new people. We do loads of things, like we teach other new hairstyles and personal hygiene’.

‘We don’t get to play at home at all, but here we get to play and be playful’

‘I have confidence in life now just from meeting people from here’


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Mar 7, 2011

My first visit to Vishrantwadi

I’ve just got back a few hours ago from my first visit to the project in Vishrantwadi. Wow. Reading about it on paper and seeing it on the ground in action are two very different things. I just wanted to share my feelings, as I’ll write a more detailed report and share the stories of the girls that I met when I get back to our Karuna office in London.

Up until now, I never fully experienced how limited the life choices of the girls involved in the project are. Most of them live in the slums of Vishrantwadi, and many don’t even attend school. I met many girls who used to go and now don’t go. Having said that, I also met girls who have re-enrolled at school since being part of the life Skills classes that the project runs. For many of the girls, even obtaining permission from their parents to attend activities such as computer classes or life skills training has been an uphill struggle. Some parents remain under the assumption that to invest in the development of girls in this way is futile. Karunaprabha, the leader of this project, and her formidable stuff are key in helping to overcome this barrier. It is clear that over the years that the project has been running they have gained the trust of many in the communities in which they are working in. Through open conversation they are often able to convince reluctant parents to let their girls attend classes.

I was lucky to be able to see many activities today – I saw the computer and sewing classes in action, watched an awareness-raising street play on anaemia, a rally by girls against child marriage and I met with one of the life skills class groups. I also did two visits to the homes of beneficiaries, one from the sewing class and one from the life skills group. I was really humbled by the work that is going on – how hard the women leading the project work and their capacity for empathy, but also the enthusiasm and zeal with which the girls engage. I had underestimated the impact that this project is having in transforming the lives of the girls; not only this, but the role that this project is playing in creating a new generation of empowered women in India.


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Feb 16, 2011

Onwards and upwards for Deepali

Deepali at the Imu Breeding Centre
Deepali at the Imu Breeding Centre

Hi all,

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.

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