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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
Apr 30, 2018

What your support means to Shehnaz


We have recently enrolled Shehnaz onto this education programme.  Shehnaz is special because she comes from such a deprived background that most girls of her age (19) would already have been married off and producing children.

She is from the rag picker community in Tangra. Her parents are both illiterate.  Her father is 40 and a violent alcoholic and no longer lives with the family. Her mother, aged 35 (must have been just 16 when Shehnaz was born), keeps her family of 5 together by rag picking.  They live in a shelter of about 2.5m x 3 m.  They have no toilet and no running water.

Shehnaz has remained in education and is about to sit her class 10 exams.  We enrolled her on the scheme because she needs continued financial support to help her pass these exams and go on to complete 2 more years of school and maybe even go on to university.  It takes a great deal of determination and the support of her mother for a girl like Shehnaz to choose education against the social pressure to drop out and marry. 

She and her mother deserve and desperate need this support.

So what does it mean to Shehnaz to join the Global Giving Education Programme?

 These are the costs that Shehnaz’s mother would have to cover – out of her £35 per month income from rag picking:

  1. Any necessary academic fees will be paid.
  2. She will receive a nutrition allowance – ensuring she eats enough nourishing food to keep her healthy
  3. All school books: The girls purchase the books they need and bring the books in to be stamped (see the picture below) and the costs are reimbursed.
  4. They receive a school bag and an umbrella
  5. School uniforms and shoes are supplied where needed
  6. Any costs incurred in travel to school are covered (usually for those at college – most walk to school)
  7. All stationery is paid for

 But as a member of the programme Shehnaz also benefits in the following ways

  1. She is a member of the Gyan Azhar library, a safe space to work peacefully, to borrow books, to use the computers
  2. She will enjoy excursions – to the cinema, museums and exhibitions
  3. She will be invited to events held at the library where she will learn new skills – dance, jewellery making, guitar lessons
  4. She will have computer training
  5. She will attend various sessions on health and hygiene, her rights, use of social media
  6. And she will have access to the staff of the library and of the education programme for advice and mentoring.

We want every one of the girls on this programme to reach her full potential and we work closely with the girls and their families to ensure that they can fulfil their ambitions.  Their mothers are always supportive – as they know the consequences of failing to complete an education.  They want more for their daughters.

We all want to thank you so much for your amazing support and please do tell your families and friends what a difference they too could make to a vulnerable girl like Shehnaz

Thank you

With mother & disabled brother - at our office
With mother & disabled brother - at our office
Labels go in all books purchased for the girls
Labels go in all books purchased for the girls


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