Jan 5, 2021

Thank you for your generosity

Distributing food parcels
Distributing food parcels

More than ever before, your donations have been essential over the last 9 months of the coronavirus pandemic.  Because of you, we at Tiljala SHED were able to mobilise instantly to bring much needed food parcels to thousands of destitute families who found themselves hungry.  

When India locked down in March 2020, millions of daily labourers found themselves immediately out of work. There was no work for rickshaw drivers, street vendors, domestic servants. Beggars and rag pickers weren't even allowed to go onto the streets to try to make enough money to eat.  So we found crowds of desperate people outside our offices asking for help.

A handful of Tiljala SHED's staff, who lived close by, were able to begin to take names, hand out coupons and arrange for individuals to return, masked and distanced, to collect food rations for their families.  We then purchased sacks of rice, lentils, potatoes, onions, oil and other basics. Our staff packed the goods through the night and then distributed the packages day after day. We took relief to different parts of Kolkata where the need was greatest and even mounted an expedition out to the Sundarbans to distribute food relief to families who had had suffered the double catastrophe of COVID lockdown and Cyclone Amphan which has swept away their homes.

In all you helped us to feed over 35,000 people in 2020.  And just when things seemed to be getting better, another disaster struck. On 10th November, fire swept through the Topsia Canalside Squatter community, leaving nearly 200 families homeless. Many lost all their possessions either through the fire or by throwing their belongings into the canal in the hope of saving them later.  Until today we continue our relief efforts for these families.

Your donations have enabled us to provide the necessary relief quickly and efficiently to many thousands of families. You have certainly saved lives and livelihoods. Please continue to help us as the crisis is by no means over - and even when life returns to normal, there are always families and individuals who need emergency relief.

Thank you

Distribution in the Sundarbans
Distribution in the Sundarbans
The Tiljala SHED Team
The Tiljala SHED Team
Homeless after the Topsia fire
Homeless after the Topsia fire

Links:

Nov 19, 2020

Back in class despite another disaster

Receiving clothing donation
Receiving clothing donation

It has been a truly terrible year for everyone but for none more so than the children of Kolkata’s slums and shanties.

When lockdown began in India in March, schools were closed and so were the after-school classes that Tiljala SHED runs in our community centres. The children stayed at home in their makeshift shelters, forgotten by the outside world and our staff unable to reach them. The children’s parents -most of them daily labourers living hand-to-mouth as rickshaw drivers, factory workers, beggars, rag pickers, maidservants – found that they couldn’t earn enough to feed the children. So we started distributing food parcels – reaching over 35,000 people in the dark days of lockdown.

Cyclone Amphan swept through West Bengal in April and destroyed many homes.  So many children became homeless.  But help came from a GlobalGiving grant and from many local donors. Gradually life began to return to normal. Although schools are not yet open, Tiljala SHED has been able to restart the after-school classes. With masks, hand sanitiser and smaller groups we can keep the children educated and protected. For the older, secondary school children we have been able to provide smart phones so that they can access their education online. They have returned to their tuitions, have passed their board exams and are looking forward to going on to further training or higher education.

And then last week disaster struck again: a fire swept through the Topsia Canalside Squatter community leaving 110 families homeless again. As I write, local help is pouring in. Solar lamps, food, sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins have all been donated. Our staff are working flat out to assess the need, source donations and then to distribute them.

Meanwhile many of the children are sleeping every night under tarpaulins whilst they wait for their shelters (their homes) to be rebuilt. It is wonderful to see the community being so well looked after with in kind donations.  But it is more important than ever that these children can continue to attend their after-school classes (in our community centre which was, thankfully, spared in the fire). It is your donations that enable us to pay the teachers, to supply school books and stationery, nutritious snacks, to light and clean the community centre. It is your donations that keep the programme running and enable us to keep the children safe and in education. By keeping the children in education, you are protecting them from illiteracy, child labour and early marriage.

Thank you

Aftermath of the fire
Aftermath of the fire
110 homes destroyed
110 homes destroyed

Links:

Nov 13, 2020

Livelihood: we are back in action

Livelihood Training in Topsia
Livelihood Training in Topsia

When I wrote to you back in July, I reported that our normal programmes, including this livelihood programme, had stalled. We were dealing with India’s COVID crisis and relief from hunger was our top priority. I also told you how our vehicle had fallen apart under the strain of carrying so much weight of rice, dal, cooking oil and so on.  Well I am delighted to report that our marvellous team reached around 35,000 people with vital food rations over the lockdown period. And also, thanks to generous donors through GlobalGiving, the vehicle has been repaired and is now fully roadworthy again.

More good news is that many of our beneficiaries have come forward asking for new loans so that they can start up new businesses or revive an old one.  And because of your generosity, the funds raised last year are now ready to be disbursed.  Before that, though, we have launched a training programme helping the women with business skills, a little bit of bookkeeping and also helping them to identify what businesses are most appropriate for each area.

The scheme operates through a co-operative system, where a group of women, often friends and neighbours, will form a CIG or credit interest group. Each woman takes her own loan, but the group becomes severally responsible for repayment. We have found the system works very well and we routinely have a 98% repayment rate.

Conditions of the loans include an undertaking to keep the children in education and also to start a savings account. This gives the family some financial resilience.

I’m looking forward to reporting back to you what businesses these women set up and how they are faring.  Meanwhile, thank you as ever for your amazing generosity.

Livelihood Training in Narkeldanga
Livelihood Training in Narkeldanga
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.