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.
Jun 21, 2013

One year of project activities

Rally on Child Rights
Rally on Child Rights

Dear Donors,

I am delighted to be able to share with you an update on this year's cycle of activities, working with marginalised girls in the Vishrantwadi slums. 

Summary of activties and some achievements

The project has seen another successful year of new girls from the slum communities benefitting from the project activities. Many new girls have been attracted to the vocational training, through which many have found jobs, and are now financially independent.

Key achievements include: 1,100 girls attending life skills sessions to learn about nutrition; 104 girls being diagnosed as anaemic through health camps, 1,080 girls attending self-confidence and communication skills; and 376 girls  engaging in vocational training. Overall, the difference between the girls who are attending project classes and the others in the community are quite stark in terms of life skills, aspiration, confidence, and communication skills. 

The project has continued to build rapport and good relationships with local NGOs and government institutions, engaging in joint activities, maximising resources and sharing learning and best practice.

There has also been success in persuading parents whose daughters have dropped out of school to allow them to re-enrol. Enlisting parental support for the education of girls in these areas, as well as the study-support classes provided by the project, have played a major role in girls staying in school.

Changes to planned activities

  • Spoken English classes and additional study support classes were added to reduce the number of girls dropping out of school.  Recognising that the girls have nowhere to study in their crowded slum homes, and receive no support or encouragement, the project is providing a space where girls can do their work and ask questions. Girls are now interested in their studies.
  • This year, the project areas and beneficiaries were mapped. Every year there are some changes for the girls: some get married, some drop out of school, and very rarely, some move. This year each beneficiary’s house was numbered, and maps were made of the communities where the project operates. This allowed for much better monitoring of the beneficiaries and trends in the various communities where the girls live.
  • Child rights awareness sessions have been included in the curriculum, so that girls may know of their rights as children (to education etc.)

Future plans of the project

  • The project began operating this year in 3 new slum communities this year. This has proved very successful, and the project will continue to operate in these areas, slowly building trust with the girls and families of those communities.
  • Another aspiration is to develop a self-help group and micro-financing component to the project, for women (or married girls) of the slums. This would help disseminate important knowledge about health, nutrition and domestic violence, and also provide another means of economic empowerment and financial independence.
  • The project hope for some of the girls from these communities to go to nearby Karuna funded hostels. Some of the girls in the slums are very intelligent, but don’t have good environments to study in their homes. In the hostels they will receive guidance in a supportive atmosphere, and be eligible for government scholarships for their studies.

I will be updating you all soon with more stories from the ground. Without this work, most of these girls would have no chance of escpaing the slums, and the situation would not be much different for their children. Thank you, as always, for continuing to fund this life changing work.

haemoglobin check up.
haemoglobin check up.
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
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