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.

Mar 16, 2021

Back to school at last - India's schools reopen

After school classes at the Topsia Centre
After school classes at the Topsia Centre

Kolkata’s schools are back after almost a year. The children in our communities saw their parents lose their livelihoods when the country went into lockdown. A father who cycled a rickshaw or a rag-picker mother were unable to go onto the streets to earn a daily wage. Desperate and hungry the children saw their parents queuing for food parcels and struggling to stretch their meagre rations to feed the family. In May, Cyclone Amphan swept through the Bay of Bengal destroying thousands of homes. Many of our children had their flimsy makeshift homes destroyed. And then the Topsia fire claimed another 400 homes. You wonder how a small child can recover from such a succession of disasters.

Thankfully Tiljala SHED was able to reopen our education centres and welcome the children back in September and now, at last, schools are open. There is a return to some kind of normality.

We have a very special cohort of about 50 older children who are ambitious to remain in education and to reach for a different life - beyond the slums and squatter camps. These teenagers are particularly vulnerable to dropping out, largely because of social pressures to work or to marry. They need extra support and we are delighted that a number of donors have come forward to sponsor them. Thanks to our sponsors, we have been able to provide additional tuition, bicycles, books, smartphones, English and computer classes. These children attend Evening Classes in our centres every day after the smaller children have gone home.

Throughout all of this you, our donors, have continued to support these children. When we couldn’t run classes, we were able to provide food parcels. When the centres opened again we were able to bring the children back and help them resume their education. You helped us purchase smartphones for the older children so they could access their classes online and just last week you stepped up again and provided funds so that we can give the children a healthy snack 5 days a week when they attend our classes.

Thank you so much for your continued support. It is needed now more than ever.

JustUSD80 provides daily nutritious snacks (milk, a banana or an egg) for a whole class of 30 children for a whole month.

And USD42 sponsors one of the older Evening Class students for a month.

Mar 12, 2021

Getting back to Work

Business Development Training session Nov 2020
Business Development Training session Nov 2020

Livelihoods were the first casualty of India’s lockdown. The informal sector – street vendors, rickshaw drivers, domestic helpers, beggars, rag pickers, tailors and all those who work for a daily wage – were suddenly unable to work.  Most of the women on this project were among this group. Fledgling businesses failed and the loans taken out were used to feed hungry families or pay medical bills. Fortunately for these women the loans came from you, administered by a humanitarian NGO, Tiljala SHED. Repayments have been forgiven or delayed.

In the report below, you’ll see how the programme is picking up again and more loans are being administered. It is now more important than ever that our beneficiaries can set up or build their small businesses and become self-sufficient. We continue to insist that the children remain in education as a condition of joining the programme, so that the next generation is even more resilient.

A report from the field:

Livelihood Programme Report for The Month Of October to December 2020 

The livelihood had 16 trainings as per their quarterly plan (Oct to Dec 2020) but could do only 8 trainings during this period.  The planned activities got affected due to the huge fire disaster that took place on the 10th of November 2020 at Topsia, one of our target areas where we work with our beneficiaries. Many of our beneficiaries and other poor population residing along the canal side in squatters were severely affected as all their belongings burnt into ashes.  The people could only save their lives. Many of the Tiljala Shed staff including the Livelihood program staff were involved in relief work to these fire victims. As it is they were mostly hit by the Pandemic Covid 19 and super cyclone Amphan which had shaken them financially leaving them without any source of income. There were lot of distribution of the essential things done trying to bring them back to their normal lives.

 Altogether 8 trainings were done on CIG, core group members on the process of identifying new and old beneficiaries and loan approval process (standard operating procedure). 

 In these meetings there were discussions about repayment of loan and disbursement of new loan to old beneficiaries. Beneficiaries requested for more time to be given to them for repaying the loan amount as they are struggling for their daily bread. People have lost their job and many had loss in business which they were doing due to Covid 19.  The livelihood team has shown some leniency by allowing them to repay in small amount of the monthly installment as and when they are able to so that they can repay their debts.



A donation of £250 is enough to help a destitute woman set up a small business, to give her financial power and the ability to support her family.


Thank you

Beneficiary receives a loan cheque
Beneficiary receives a loan cheque
Training Schedule
Training Schedule
Loans and repayments
Loans and repayments
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