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Jun 18, 2018

Why Compassionate Lending is so Important

Ishrat with husband and grandson
Ishrat with husband and grandson

When everything went wrong for Ishrat, she was very lucky that donors like you had supported her through Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme.  Ishrat was born into a large rag picking family, had no education and was married off at 14. Ishrat and her husband Nasir have 3 children. They run a sack-selling business: they buy old sacks, sort them and then sell them on.  They used to make a profit of about Rs7000 (£78 or USD100) per month which was just enough to feed the family – but they had no way of improving their income without an injection of capital.  So Ishrat approached Tiljala SHED for a loan of Rs15000 to enable them to expand the business.  They rented a godown (warehouse) increased their stock and improved their monthly income by a further Rs3000

Access to financial services and to credit is one of the most effective ways the ultra-poor can help themselves out of the cycle of poverty.  Kolkata’s rag pickers are so poor, though, that normal banks won’t lend them money.  Money lenders charge extortionate interest rates and families can find themselves deep in debt when they cannot repay a loan.  Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme exists to help the poorest of the poor – not to exploit them.  We understand that things go wrong, people fall sick and need to cover medical costs, businesses don’t always grow as fast as people want.  In Ishrat’s case the godown and all her stock were burned to the ground in December last year.  They need to start all over again.

Ishrat will be given a further loan to help her build up her business again and she is on very relaxed repayment terms.  She wants to pay back what she owes but she does not need the added stress of growing debt.  Mita, Mijanoor and the rest of the team at Tiljala SHED who run this programme with such care and humanity are there to help Ishrat and her family improve their lives.

Thanks to you and other donors Tiljala SHED can give families like Ishrat’s a second chance.  Please consider a further donation today so that we can help more families like Ishrat’s.  There are currently 90 families waiting for small loans.

Since April 2016 £48,000 (USD63,000) has been disbursed to 166 families.  £28,600 has been repaid so far and loaned out again to a further 116 families.  Total 282 families have been helped.  The present recovery rate is 97%.

May 17, 2018

Education, child protection, opportunity...

Murshida wants to be a teacher
Murshida wants to be a teacher

Murshida, resident of Topsia canalside squatter camp is 18 years old. She has just completed her final school exams. Her father is a tuktuk driver who earns about £2.50 (Rs200) a day. Most girls in this community marry at 12 or 13 years old but Murshida and Tiljala SHED's staff persuaded her parents to let her continue her education. Murshida has attended Tiljala SHED's classes since she was small and aspires now to become a teacher. She shows every sign of accomplishing her ambition.

And this is why our work is so important. We have to be there for every child who dreams of something bigger, every child who wants to help his or her family, every child who wants to correct injustice, to teach, to heal, to create, to inform. We need to provide an environment where a child who dreams gets a helping hand, the tools and opportunities he or she needs to change his or her life.

So 600 children of rag pickers, rickshaw drivers, maidservants, vegetable sellers are enrolled on Tiljala SHED's Education and Child Protection programme. They are required to attend their local government school but in the afternoon they attend remedial classes in T SHED's 5 centres, one in the heart of each community where we work. Here they play, sing, complete their homework, attend remedial sessions and child protection workshops. They love the classes and attendance is very high. Their parents are also closely involved - after all it is only with the parents' consent that the children remain in education and avoid dropping out. Tiljala SHED works very hard to persuade the parents that a proper education is worth the sacrifice of anything a boy might earn rag picking or working in a factory. And infinitely better than marrying off a daughter as soon as she reaches puberty.

This is the partnership required to raise a child to be the very best she or he can be: the child's own determination to succeed; the consent of the parents; support from the wider community; Tiljala SHED's amazing work.

And the cost of giving a child the opportunity for a better life…

 £11 a month.

May 14, 2018

How you help Kolkata's most vulnerable people

Salma with her food parcel
Salma with her food parcel

Salma lives with three of her family members in Topsia. She earns Rs. 200 a week as a beggar. She has faced many physical and psychological hardships. Salma used to work in a factory and, a few years ago, her right arm got chopped off by a machine. She was admitted to the Park Circus Chittaranjan Hospital. Because she was in a government hospital, the doctors discharged her prematurely when other patients who needed more attention came. Around this time, her daughter’s husband became violent. He hit his wife with a stone, and, as a result, she began to have mental problems. Neither her daughter nor any other family member came when Salma was released from the hospital. Because of her amputated arm she cannot work. 

At Tiljala SHED we focus on empowering society’s most marginalised groups, especially the rag picker communities who live in illegal makeshift dwellings beside the railways and canals.  We ensure the children are educated and kept out of labour; we provide microloans to rag picker women to help them start up alternative businesses; we link our beneficiaries to government schemes and help them to assert their rights and make their voices heard.  We help them to help themselves.  But for the most helpless, especially the elderly and disabled, sometimes we need the resources to provide them with food and medicine that they can’t otherwise earn.  

Salma is someone who needs this special care.  Thanks to your generosity we are able to provide Salma and others with some dry rations every month.

Each one receives rice, lentils, chana, chana dal, sugar, refined oil, mustard oil and bread.

Sabra lives in a small makeshift structure near the Topsia canal. She is one of the oldest people in this community. When we recently spoke with her, she started crying. She said she feels weak because she does not have enough food to eat. Sabra eats a few biscuits for breakfast and lentils for lunch. Dinner is not guaranteed. Sometimes she eats rice; sometimes she goes to sleep without eating anything. She cannot walk long distances and cannot work. Because she has poor eyesight, her neighbours cook for her. Sabra does not have electricity in her home because she cannot afford it.

Sabra’s other family members lives nearby and they help her when they can, but they are also very poor so it is a struggle for the whole family.

You can see from the smile on her face that she is thrilled to receive these rations and to know she won’t need to go hungry any more.

Ramadan starts this week.  Please consider a special donation to ensure Sabra and many others can be properly looked after.

Hamuda - supports family of 5 on Rs1500 a month
Hamuda - supports family of 5 on Rs1500 a month
Sabra - too old to work and often starves
Sabra - too old to work and often starves
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