Jul 12, 2021

Livelihood: we are back in action

Livelihood Training Session
Livelihood Training Session

Arjina is 32 years old. She is a rag picker by profession and stays in one of the pavements near ESI Hospital. There are five members in the family (2 daughters + 1 son). All the members of the family stay near ESI hospital on the pavements under very extreme conditions.

Her elder daughter studies in Class IV and her younger daughter studies in Class II. Her son studies in Kindergarten. Arjina and her husband work together as a rag picker. They earn around Rs.150 to 200 per day. But this income is not enough for running the household expenses. Sometimes the family goes to bed without food. She took Rs.20,000 as a loan Dated on 05.05.18 from Tiljala SHED alternative livelihood program. She sells detergent powder and most of her income comes from rag picking. She repaid Rs.16,000 and the rest Rs.4,000 is due.

After the lockdown and covid pandemic situation her earning has drastically reduced to Rs.50 to 100 a day. They sleep in an open pavement. During the rainy season, the conditions become very difficult as they sleep under a tarpaulin. Local goons and police are a daily harassment for this family. The young girls do not have any security. The local political goons drink alcohol nearby their temporary makeshift structure and takes away water which is being stored for the family drinking purpose. Since they are basically on the footpath, diseases are more prevalent among them. Diarrhoea, Malaria, High Fever, Coughing are regular problems and found in almost all the homes. Previous 2020 lockdown to now June 2021 she cannot repay. Her situation is very bad. After the last year pandemic things started getting little better from this year February 2021 and she was in regular contact with our livelihood team and attended all the group meetings. But after the second wave of the Covid the state government announced lockdown from April 2021 and she again had to suffer the same situation like last year.

She is hopeful that she will revive her income once the lockdown is eased, and situation becomes normal. She is committed to transform her life through her hard work and dedication.

There are many beneficiries like Arjina who have been struggling because of the pandemic situation. The income has gone down to almost Nil and with little support from government and NGOs they are able to survive. As soon as the pandemic situation gets better she will revive her financial condition back to normal. Tiljala SHED has been assisting these families during the pandemic and we have organised Emergency Food Distribution for such families who have  suffered the most during the pandemic. 

Livelihood Training Meeting
Livelihood Training Meeting
Livelihood Training
Livelihood Training
Arjina Bibi with her family
Arjina Bibi with her family
Jun 27, 2021

Sabahat turns her fortunes around

Sabahat with her year 1 pass certificate
Sabahat with her year 1 pass certificate

I worry a lot about our sponsored girls. Schools have been closed for most of the last 15 months. Their parents are struggling to find the money to feed their families because they have been unable to work during lockdown.  In families where the children are first generation learners, the motivation to keep studying under these circumstances is liable to fade.

Our programme leaders, Shreya and Aamna, have worked very hard to keep the girls going.  We have ensured all those who have access to classes online have smartphones and we have done everything we can to support those who don’t. Many of the smaller girls collect assignments from their teachers and return them completed to the school. Not perfect – but better than nothing.

Last time I was in India, February 2020, just before the pandemic hit India, I met up with most of the girls on this programme.  I have always admired Sabahat and her mother. Sabahat’s mother, though illiterate herself, is desperately keen for her daughter to get a good education. And all had been going well: the girl completed her class 12 and went off to Victoria College, part of Calcutta University, to study for a Bachelor of Arts degree.  When we met last year, however, Sabahat had failed her first year twice. We had a long discussion and tried to understand what was going wrong. It seemed she lacked confidence and motivation. She was not attending her lectures and classes as often as she should. Youngsters from impoverished backgrounds can feel very intimidated in the hustle and bustle of university life. The majority of the students are confident, often privately educated and middle class. Sabahat is a simple girl from the slum. We asked her to take a couple of days to decide where she wanted to go and how to get there.  She came back the next day and promised that she absolutely was determined to get her degree so that she could become a teacher. She would renew her efforts.

I am very happy to report today that she has now passed her first year and is proceeding with her year 2 studies. I am so proud of her.  For a youngster from such a deprived background a very special effort is required and she has really put in the effort. Perhaps remote learning has helped her but most of all it is her determination. She is also helping out her family by earning a little money from tutoring. One day, I’m quite sure, she will be the qualified teacher she hopes to become, helping to lead other girls away from early marriage, illiteracy and drudgery and into a brighter future.

This programme provides each beneficiary with the tuition fees, the books, the uniform, medical expenses and any other essential items to enable them to remain in education. During the pandemic your contributions are also helping to provide the neediest families with food rations and any medical help they might need. But perhaps the most important intervention is the guidance, encouragement and counselling the girls receive from Shreya and Aamna and the other staff at Tiljala SHED.

Your contributions are working very hard indeed to keep girls like Sabahat on track. Thank you very much on behalf of them all.

Ayesha wants to be a criminal lawyer
Ayesha wants to be a criminal lawyer
Zainab uses her smartphone to access her education
Zainab uses her smartphone to access her education
May 3, 2021

From Hope to Despair. COVID crashes through India

The elderly need our ongoing support
The elderly need our ongoing support

This project, thanks to our donors, has enabled Tiljala SHED to provide essential support to our vulnerable beneficiaries particularly over the last terrible year.  When India's lockdown in March 2020 left so many people unable to work, when cyclone Amphan tore through our communities, destroying homes and causing floods, when a cooking fire in Topsia left 160 families homeless once again, when individual medical emergencies arose, when our elderly were hungry and needed medical care, this project was able to provide the funds. Your donations have contributed to the distribution of  emergency food parcels to 35,000 people in central Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal.

And for all this we are deeply grateful.

But we have to ask yet again. COVID 19, as you know, is surging through every part of India and through every section of society.  The hospitals are overwhelmed and people cannot find oxygen or hospital beds for their sick relatives. Once again those who work in the informal economy are unable to earn a daily wage, are afraid to go out and are confused about vaccinations. Many believed that COVID was a disease of the middle - wealthier- classes. They have heard rumours that the vaccines are dangerous.

But Tiljala SHED's staff are trusted and well known in these most marginalised communities. Our job now is to educate, to ensure that everyone comes forward for vaccination, to find out who is hungry and unable to work, to find the right medical aid for those whom are sick. And at the same time our staff need to remain safe, maintain social distance, to get vaccinated and to keep their own families safe.

So we have to ask you again to help us. We needs funds for emergency subsistence rations. We need funds for emergency medical care. We need to pay our staff who so valiantly go out into the frontline to support and educate.  Please consider another donation today - however small- to help those most in need.

Thank you.

 
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