Apply to Join
Oct 6, 2017

How a small loan made a difference for Chandra

Chandra in the workplace
Chandra in the workplace

Chandra is a cobbler by profession.  His workplace is a pavement in Park Circus, Kolkata and he sleeps in a nearby doorway with all his tools, his stock and personal possessions.  His native land is Muzaffarpur, Bihar where his wife, parents, two daughters and a son live. He came to Kolkata in order to find a better livelihood and sends the money he earns home to support his family.   I met Chandra in August 2016. A few weeks earlier he had received Rs.6000/- (USD90) as a conditional grant from Tiljala Shed to grow his existing business.  He showed me some of the new stock he had bought and explained how it would help him increase his earnings.  Before the loan his monthly income was Rs.5000/- but now his income has increased to Rs. 12000/- (USD180) and he  is able to send money to his family through bank transfers.  He is proud that he has recently been able to pay for his older daughter’s marriage and that his younger daughter is currently studying in class V and his son in class VIII.  Because he had repaid his initial loan he was able to take out a further loan of Rs70,000 (USD1100) for his daughter’s marriage – of which there is just Rs20,000 (USD300) outstanding.

His plans are to refund the loan from Tiljala SHED as soon as possible and then apply again for a loan to extend his business.

Chandra’s experience shows how Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme helps vulnerable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services.  In the first place he was able to use a small investment to grow his business and increase his monthly income, and then he was able to take out another loan for personal use (his daughter’s marriage). 

Once the loan is repaid it can be lent again to someone else through the Revolving Savings Group Fund (RSGF)

Rehana is from an extremely poor family. Her small family business used to take on piecework stitching parts for sandals (chappals).  But two out of her three sewing machines broke down. Her earnings deteriorated completely and it was becoming very difficult for her to run the family. In April 2017, Rehana received a conditional grant from the Revolving Fund and purchased a new machine for herself in order to restart her business. Her business is now running very smoothly and she is earning Rs.2000 to 2500/- (USD30 – 38) per week. Even after spending she is able to save up to Rs1700 (USD26). She is currently refunding her loan from her savings and after paying the whole amount she would like to reapply for the loan from T-SHED. She wants to extend her existing business by investing in additional machines.

Thank you for your generous donations to this livelihood programme.  You are truly helping family after family to raise their living standards, to keep their children in school and to be able to weather a crisis.

Chandra took a $60 loan to grow his business
Chandra took a $60 loan to grow his business
Rehana and her new sewing machine
Rehana and her new sewing machine
Oct 6, 2017

How sponsorship is changing Sabahat's future

Sabahat and her mother
Sabahat and her mother

Sabahat wants to be a teacher.  And, thanks to her GlobalGiving donors, to Tiljala SHED's dedicated team and to her parents, this is looking entirely possible.  

In India, the school dropout rate amongst adolescent girls is as high as 63.5% and in underprivileged minority communities like Sabahat's the rate is even higher.  Girls from very poor families drop out of school for a number of reasons:

  • The school is just too far away
  • Boys are favoured over girls, so the boys attend school but the girls stay at home
  • Child marriage. 4.4 million girls under 15 are married with at least 2 children
  • Lack of segregated toilets is a major cause of girls dropping out of school

An educated girl avoids early marriage and is empowered to stand up against exploitation.  As they grow children are able to make better choices for themselves and influence the communities they live in.

Sabahat's mother knows this.  She struggles to feed and clothe her family on the £20 a week her husband earns in a chappal (sandal) factory.  The family of five lives in a single 10 sq ft  room in the Darapara slum but Sabahat's mother is a smart, cheerful and optimistic woman who wants much more for her daughter than to perpetuate the cycle of poverty and drudgery so she applied to Tiljala SHED to put her daughter on the sponsorship programme. 

So for the past 2 years, your contributions have helped provide all the necessary expenses to keep her in education: tuition fees, costs of books and stationery, travel expenses, uniform and shoes. She also benefits from health check-ups, group activities and occasional events and excursions.

Sabahat graduated from high school this summer and is now attending Calcutta University.  She is on her way to achieving her dream of becoming a teacher. 

I meet up with Sabahat and her mother whenever I visit Kolkata.  They are such a cheerful and determined pair that I am certain that with your help Sabahat will achieve her dream and become a teacher. 

School Graduation Certificate
School Graduation Certificate
Sep 5, 2017

We're Making a Few Changes

Computers at the Topsia Centre
Computers at the Topsia Centre

Because of your generosity and the success of this programme, we are now able to make a step up to a properly sustainable programme in Topsia.  By providing a nutritious meal to 450 people every weekend over the past 18 months, Tiljala SHED has been able to build trust and co-operation.  Visitors have occasionally come along to help out with the weekly “langar” and chat to the families and see how they live. Out of these visits have come offers of help from local benefactors.  Electricity is now available to every household and toilets are being built.  The community centre where the food is distributed every week has had a complete makeover.  There is a new floor, fresh paint on the walls and a computer classroom has been built.  The children are now learning computer skills with daily classes.  We have also been able to provide more after school remedial support and sports coaching for children in classes 6 – 8.  This will help keep the children in education and eventually help them to move out of the squatter camp and into mainstream society. 

Topsia no longer feels like a forgotten backwater: things are happening here.  And your donations have helped make this major change. 

Tiljala SHED’s principal aim is to empower vulnerable people to change their own lives and it is with this in mind that we feel the time is now right to hand over the distribution of emergency food and medical aid to the community itself.  So while there may still be weekly meals for large numbers of people, the Association of Rag Pickers (the ARP), run by members of the community itself, but facilitated and supported by Tiljala SHED, will make those decisions.  The ARP will assess which families and individuals are in most need and will apply to Tiljala SHED for the funds necessary.  The ARP already collects subscriptions and uses these funds to support the children’s education.  This has been very successful, so we know that the ARP members will rise to the challenge and make the very best use of your funds.

Mohan’s Story
Things were looking up for Mohan.  He was the proud owner of a brand-new cycle van.  He had taken out a small interest free loan through Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme and was all set to give up rag picking and start carrying small loads and earning enough to keep his young family as well as pay off the loan. Then in 2016 inside a few days his 31 year old wife, Guria, was diagnosed with advanced TB and his van was stolen.  Mohan fell into a depression.  Guria was too sick to care for all four of their children. There was no money coming in either for food or for the medical help Guria desperately needed.  The staff at Tiljala SHED rallied round; they wrote off his debt and found families to take care of the older children.  Guria’s medical bills were covered and Mohan given the support he needed.   The fortunes of a vulnerable family can change dramatically.

Tiljala SHED wants to change the nature of the project you have helped fund: in future the funds will be reserved for crises like Mohan’s

So, on behalf of Topsia’s rag pickers, we are asking you to continue to support this community with generous donations, so that they can eat well, be healthy, keep their children in education and their elderly cared for.

Topsia Canalside Squatter Camp
Topsia Canalside Squatter Camp
Mohan before his van was stolen
Mohan before his van was stolen
 
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.