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Mar 28, 2017

Make your donation work for you again and again and again...

Morjina Bibi.  You have changed her life!
Morjina Bibi. You have changed her life!

Meet Morjina Bibi.  
She is a beneficiary of Tiljala SHED’s Livelihood Programme.  Thanks to your donation she was able to take a small loan of Rs10,000 in May 2016.  She set up a business selling vegetables.  The family income increased from Rs3500 (£44) per month before the loan to Rs12000  (£150) per month now.  She has also repaid the full amount into a revolving fund so that the money can be used to help another family.   

Morjina Bibi lives in the Topsia Canalside squatter camp, one of Kolkata’s “rag picker” communities.  They are mostly Muslim and are migrants from other parts of West Bengal and northern India.  They are generally Urdu speakers, illiterate and many lack identity documents and are therefore barred from accessing their rights and entitlements. Most of the families here depend on rag picking for a livelihood, supplemented by exploitative piecework like chappal trimming.  

710 families, averaging 6 individuals per family, live by the Topsia canal, a polluted waterway which has contaminated the ground and water in the area with heavy metals and other toxins.  There are just two drinking water taps, one at either end of the community, and these flow just twice a day, so residents need to queue to collect drinking and cooking water.  Open defecation is the norm here as the few toilets that exist cannot be kept clean through a lack of running water. Residents avoid them.

Morjina lives in a single room with her family of six. Her husband is not always at home as he has another family so Morjina is currently the only earning family member.

Under Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme Morjina applied for and was granted Rs10,000 in May 2016 to set up a vegetable selling business.   Every day she buys vegetables from around 3000 up to 6000 INR. She pushes a mobile shop and goes to different areas to sell the vegetables and makes around Rs400 to 500 a day.  Despite the difficulties caused by demonetisation her small business has thrived.  She has repaid the loan in full and has lifted the family income from just Rs3500 per month to Rs12000.  She also reports that she has already saved Rs40000 in her bank account. She can afford good food and a good education for her children. Morjina Bibi says “I want to give my children a good future.”

Because this programme has been so very successful and there is now great demand from other families, we are coming back to our generous donors and asking you to consider a further donation. Or even making a regular commitment.  Every £100 donated will help many families as it will be granted to one family, repaid and then "recycled" to help another family.  We know it works - 97% of beneficiaries are repaying their loan on time or have already repaid.  

 

Meet Noorjahan

For every fortunate Morjina there are hundreds like Noorjahan. I met her last month in Kolkata.  I crossed the road to find out what she was collecting in her huge sack (horrible old used shoes)  and to my amazement she addressed me in English. Her aunty, she told me, had worked for some years in Ireland and had taught her English. Noorjahan is a rag picker and a pavement dweller, the most vulnerable of all Kolkata’s poor. She lives with her three children, 2 daughters and a son, and a husband who is unable to work because of an addiction to chullu (cheap country liquor) a very common affliction here. She is proud that her children are in school and she is keeping the family together on Rs100 – 150 per day (less than £2).

Noorjahan means “Light of the World”.

Noorjahan is next in line for a grant from this programme and you can help her and others like her by making a small donation. With a grant, she can set herself up in a business selling vegetables or garments, a far better prospect than rag picking. She’ll open a bank account and have the chance to save and/or borrow.  She and her children will be able to eat properly, her children will come to our after school children’s club where they are safe and supported in their health and education. Her husband may even be able to lift himself out of his cycle of despair, give up the chullu and help her out. 

  

About the Livelihood Programme

Since the introduction of waste compactors by the municipality, rag pickers have found their incomes have dropped by half.  In response to this crisis Tiljala SHED  raised funds through Global Giving  and ran a pilot livelihood programme through 2016.  87 small conditional grants were made to destitute families. The loans averaged Rs10,000.  Some beneficiaries received rickshaws or cycle vans and others, like Morjina, set up or invested in informal retail businesses.  The grants are conditional upon repayment into a revolving savings group fund and undertakings by the families to keep their children in education. The beneficiaries in each area have formed CIGs (credit interest groups) which are now responsible for ensuring prompt repayment and also authorising new grants.  The scheme has been very successful with 97% of beneficiaries repaying promptly into the revolving fund.  75% of the beneficiaries have been women and they report not only economic improvements but also reduction in domestic violence. 

 

“I have power and respect now” said Doulari from Park Circus. 

Noorjahan. Waiting for your help.
Noorjahan. Waiting for your help.
Topsia Canalside squatters, where Morjina lives
Topsia Canalside squatters, where Morjina lives
Mar 16, 2017

Exciting developments in Topsia

Collecting lunch for the family
Collecting lunch for the family

The community in Topsia had a difficult few months at the end of 2016. First their already meagre water supply was further depleted by damage to pipes, which meant that our feeding programme had to be interrupted because there simply wasn't enough water available for us to cook in large quantities. Then India's demonetisation in early December caused all kinds of chaos, including interruptions to many of Tiljala SHED's programmes simply because of a scarcity of cash.  

I was pleased to note in my last report in January that the feeding programme was back on track.  And I have even more exciting news. Topsia now has a proper electricity supply and this means that we have been able to accept a generous donation of a computer lab and a trainer 5 days a week inside the centre. The children in this most vulnerable of communities will have regular and expert computer training. This, more than anything else, will give these children a motivation to remain in education and a vital springboard out of poverty and into mainstream society.

Please continue to support the feeding programme, helping us to bring the community together and to fight for new opportunities.  Your donations have directly helped us to keep the programme going and to reach out for the other necessities of life.  We now have electricity and are actively working towards a proper clean and permanent water supply. Lives are being changed.

Thank you.

Beneficiaries of the feeding programme
Beneficiaries of the feeding programme
Power installed. All ready for computer lab
Power installed. All ready for computer lab
A huge task, starting early morning, feeding 450
A huge task, starting early morning, feeding 450
Food distribution.
Food distribution.

Attachments:
Dec 30, 2016

Thank you! 15 Happy Girls are Sponsored for 2017

Zainab - thrilled to be a Sponsored Girl
Zainab - thrilled to be a Sponsored Girl

Thanks to your amazing generosity we have now raised enough to sponsor these 15 girls for a full 12 months. 

Four of the girls have a named sponsor, and the rest have been covered by donations to the project in general.  Thanks to Global Giving’s match funding bonus events, many of your donations have been increased by 50%. 

This is a great result and the girls are all absolutely delighted. 

Zainab has been sponsored by Jean.  Zainab is 12 and in class 7 at her local Urdu High School.  Her father, Hussain,  is a driver earning just 3000 rupees a month (£36).  They live in a rented room of about 9 m2.  It is a daily struggle for him to feed his family of five and keep Zainab and her siblings in school.   But Zainab is a bright and enthusiastic student who loves school and wants to complete her education and become financially independent.  She is fully supported by her parents so we expect Zainab and her family to flourish under the sponsorship scheme.

What does sponsorship mean for Zainab? Zainab’s school expenses will now be covered: session fees, school fees and private tuition fees. Her family receives a small stipend to buy healthy food and supplements. When she purchases books or stationery she claims back the cost of these from the sponsorship fund.  She’ll get a school bag, a tiffin box (lunch box) and school uniform and shoes as required.

But being a sponsored girl means much more than this…  Tiljala SHED is most fortunate to have a small library dedicated to the girls in the heart of the slum.  This is the central meeting place where the girls can go to study in peace, use the books and the computers.  Here they have dance lessons, guitar lessons, craft sessions or just spend time with their friends in a safe place. For girls in these traditional societies, it is not possible to hang around in public places.  So the Gyan Azhar library is a real lifeline.  Tiljala SHED’s staff are always on hand to help out, listen where necessary and mentor the girls.  It is a happy place with a real buzz.  Among the activities laid on for the girls in the last 6 weeks have been

  • remedial maths classes,
  • an excursion to a theme park (organised by the Round Table organisation),
  • awareness meetings for girls and their guardians covering health, nutrition and child/women’s rights among other issues
  • craft sessions to make bead jewellery, dream catchers and greetings cards
  • weekly guitar classes
  • a visit by the children of the private school La Martiniere who brought gifts
  • First Aid training

It is the contact with one another, the inspiration from the older girls, the kindness and dedication of the Tiljala SHED staff and the sense of belonging to an important and life changing programme that makes the real difference to these girls.

Your donations make it possible for vulnerable girls from very deprived communities to dream of a better life and to reach out for it through education.

On their behalf a huge thank you and please keep on donating.  There is a long way to go…

Guitar lessons
Guitar lessons
First Aid training
First Aid training
All 15 sent cards to thank you...
All 15 sent cards to thank you...
 
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