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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
Jul 10, 2017

Your donations worth 40% more this Wednesday

Rizia Bibi
Rizia Bibi

This Wednesday 12th July is GlobalGiving's Bonus Day.

Meet Rizia.  Rizia lives in Kolkata’s Topsia canalside squatter camp. She lives in a shelter with no toilet and no running water: she has to queue twice a day to collect drinking water at one of just two taps for this community of 710 families.  Most of these families have traditionally survived on rag picking – collecting  and sorting  other people’s waste.  But since the introduction of waste compactors in Kolkata, it is much harder to make a living. The aim of this project is to help these vulnerable families establish alternative livelihoods through microfinance.

Last March Rizia took out a Rs10,000 (£120) grant under this livelihood scheme to invest in her sandal (chappal) selling business.  Inside 10 months she had repaid the loan in full; her business is thriving and she told me when I visited her that she is saving up for a bigger home for her household of eight. Like many of the men, Rizia’s husband is disabled through years of backbreaking labour, so he is rarely able to work. As a condition of the grant, Rizia ensures that her children remain in education. When I visited Rizia in February she proudly showed me her bank passbook, her livelihood scheme documentation and the record of the savings that she and other women in her SHG (self-help group) have accumulated.

I think Rizia is magnificent: she is friendly humorous, courageous, optimistic, smart and hard working. She is a leader in her community and fully understands how to make the best of the opportunities that Tiljala SHED and donors like you offer her. There are many more like Rizia… 

And the Rs10,000 grant, fully repaid by Rizia, will be used again and again to help others like Rizia to improve their lives.

On Wednesday at 2 pm BST or 9 am EDT you have an opportunity to make your donation go 40% further. Please set a reminder and make a contribution, however small, to help empower other women like Rizia  

Rizia's repayments
Rizia's repayments
 
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