Jan 16, 2020

Saving Families from Hunger

Saheen
Saheen

Hunger has the most pernicious effect on the poor: already vulnerable, with unhealthy living conditions and lacking basic necessities like clean water and electricity, hunger drags a family so low that no amount of effort will help them climb out of the desperate cycle of poverty.  Without enough food a labourer hasn’t the energy to work; a child can’t concentrate in school; the sick won’t recover; the weak fall sick. And you can only imagine how a parent feels when she cannot feed all the hungry mouths.

This project aims to provide emergency food and healthcare to help a family through a particularly rough period. With full stomachs, all the family members can start to function again.

Saheen is still at school. Her father died recently leaving her mother to support her son and two daughters. Saheen’s mother is a maidservant – which is extremely low paid and often exploitative work. It is typical for poor illiterate women to take up this kind of work.  On a monthly income of  Rs4000 (£43 or $56) the family cannot survive. It is vital that the children remain in education so that they are able to secure good jobs and take care of themselves and their mother.  A regular food ration from Tiljala SHED makes all the difference: the children can concentrate in school because they have enough to eat and the ration is also an incentive for the mother to keep the children in education.

Farah’s life has become very difficult. She remained in school until class 10 and left to become a shop assistant. She worked in a tiny shop in Kolkata’s Burrabazaar selling cheap jewellery. She recently fell in love with a boy and married him against the wishes of the boy’s family (presumably because she brought no dowry). The boy’s family summoned him home leaving Farah pregnant, jobless and destitute. Farah had supported her widowed mother but now she has a baby and cannot work. They are all very hungry and in need of rations to help them through this period.

My colleagues in Kolkata report how important these food rations are and how the recipients are moved to tears when they realise they can feed their families. Thanks to your generosity – you are saving families from hunger and despair.

Farah, her baby and mother
Farah, her baby and mother
Dec 30, 2019

Rohit and Sultana are staying in education

Sultana
Sultana

You’ll read here about two 16 year olds, who are keen to continue in education despite the considerable practical, financial and social pressures to quit.

Sultana is studying in class VII. She is a bright girl and wants to stay in education. She is very vulnerable as both her parents have abandoned her and her brother. They live in a shelter by the Topsia sewage canal. Sultana’s brother supports her out of his wages in a leather factory but he is away from the home all day until very late, leaving Sultana alone and at risk.  However, Sultana attends Tiljala SHED’s evening classes in our community centre just along the path from where she lives.  Every evening from 5 pm until 9 pm she and other teenagers receive support for their studies

Rohit is also 16 and, like Sultana, he attends evening classes in our Topsia Centre. Rohit lives with his disabled father, his mother and five siblings. His father runs a small grocery stall and his mother is a maidservant. The family income is very low.  Rohit wants to complete his education so that he can get a good job and support his family. He loves the evening classes and is making good progress at school.

It is very common for girls like Sultana in these ultra-poor communities to end up married at 13 or 14, illiterate and with little hope for a future any different from their parents’. A boy like Rohit would generally drop out of school at about 10 years old and would be sent out to work to help support the family.  This project enables these young people to remain in education. We work hard to persuade the parents that they should allow their children to stay at school; we encourage and support the youngsters in their studies and we motivate them by providing a safe, stimulating, fun and studious environment. 

Just £11 a month enables us to keep a child like Rohit or Sultana in education.

 

A note: You will have heard from GlobalGiving that there is a problem disbursing your donations to the project. This is because all GlobalGiving's disbursements to Indian projects have been held up at government level. I am working on a solution which will unblock the funds and get your donations safely where they need to go. Meanwhile, the project is moving forward as we always aim to keep a modest cushion of funds for just this eventuality. Thank you for your patience.

Rohit
Rohit
Dec 27, 2019

Asha is growing her business

ASHA
ASHA

Asha is 46 years old and lives in a makeshift shelter beside the open sewer in the Kolkata suburb of Topsia. After her husband died of cancer five years ago, Asha had to find a way of supporting herself and seven other family members. She sold her precious wedding dowry jewellery – a set of earrings – and started her business. She went to the market and bought garments at wholesale prices and then sold door to door for a small profit. Gradually the business grew. In August this year Asha took a small loan of Rs20,000 from this microfinance project and she was able to take the business to another level. She no longer goes from house to house: her customers come to her. They buy on credit and repay her in weekly instalments.

Before taking out this loan Asha earned just 4000 to 5000 rupees per month, barely enough to feed 8 hungry mouths. Since she took the loan her income has increase to 12 – 13,000 rupees per month. Her dream is to own a small shop.

It is thanks to the generosity of our donors that women like Asha have been able to turn their lives around. Since this project was launched in 2016 over 520 small loans have been made to destitute families. 142 loans went to rag picker families and nearly 400 went to ultra-poor families. Every loan is repaid so that the funds can be recycled to help other families. The repayment rate hovers around the 95% - 98% mark – and this is remarkable given that the beneficiaries are almost all illiterate. A recent survey shows that 74% of the beneficiary families have maintained an increased income since taking out the loan – and many of the families, like Asha’s, have considerably increased their incomes. Some have even been able to move away from the squatter camps and into permanent legal accommodation.

This programme is very popular in the local community and also with our staff. They really see the difference financial inclusion makes to some of India’s most vulnerable people. The benficiaries themselves want to feel they are not receiving aid, but are accessing credit. They are proud to repay their loans and often repay ahead of schedule. A truly empowering project. Thank you for your generosity.

 

A note: You will have heard from GlobalGiving that there is a problem disbursing your donations to the project. This is because all GlobalGiving's disbursements to Indian projects have been held up at government level. I am working on a solution which will unblock the funds and get your donations safely where they need to go. Meanwhile, the project is moving forward as we always aim to keep a modest cushion of funds for just this eventuality. Thank you for your patience.

 
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