Karuna Trust

Our vision is of a world without prejudice, in which every human being has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of their background or beliefs. We aim to do this by challenging the ignorance and prejudice that trap people in poverty.
Oct 27, 2015

Field Report: Lalibai's story

Lalibai
Lalibai
Jan Sahas, Indore.
Today I visited the offices of Jan Sahas, in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Jan Sahas are one of the organisations in Karuna's 'Maitri Network', working across India to counter violence against women.
Jan Sahas, like Karuna, focus on the intersection of caste and gender, working with women from the most marginalised communities such as the 'manual scavengers' - women who are forced to clean the human excreta of higher castes. 
I heard many stories today, but I'll just share one with you. 
"They would not let us wear shoes" says Lalibai, describing the work of cleaning dry toilets by hand, "and if we didn't cover our faces, so they could not see us, we were not allowed in the house. For this work, I received one roti per house I cleaned."
95% of people engaged in 'manual scavenging' in India are women. They face incredible violence and discrimination. However, being caste-based, Lalibai was not allowed to leave it. 
"I tried to stop doing this work many times. They would beat me. Sometimes with shoes, and publicly. My own family members would join in. Until the end my father-in-law would report to the higher castes on what I was doing."
Finally the village let her leave this 'work', but told her she should stop trying to convince other women to do the same "otherwise, we will kill you".
She did tell other women about their rights however, and true to their word, two years ago, in the night some villagers poured kerosene over her house and set it on fire. She managed to escape. When the police visited the village, they went only to see the dominant caste community, and didn't even come to visit her. The next day a policeman came to tell her that 'she was mad and had set fire to her own house.' Fortunately her neighbours came to her aid, and said this was nonsense.
With the support of our partner organisation, no women do this exploitative work anymore in Lalibai's village, and their daughters are now in school. This, in spite of the villagers' warning after the fire that 'You see - anyone who joins you, we will cut them like a bhindi'. 
Kranti and the legal team at Jan Sahas are working tirelessly to help women such as Lalibai get justice through the courts, in spite of all the obstacles they face. Meanwhile, other Jan Sahas projects are helping to liberate women from this practice, rehabilitate them with dignified livelihoods, and educate their daughters.
Women such as Lalibai, where the discriminations of caste, gender and poverty intersect, fear sexual and other types of violence on an almost daily basis. Unaware of their rights, with no community support, and little help from the proper authorities, they have nowhere to turn.
However, Jan Sahas have many stories to show, that with even a little support, these women become great leaders and community advocates, making sure no women have to face such violence.
Thank you for helping us.
Kranti heads up the legal support team
Kranti heads up the legal support team
Oct 7, 2015

Keru Builds Better Life For Him And His Family

The project team look to tackle all causes of school drop out of students in the project area. One of the major causes of student drop out is illness and disease. A contributing factor to this is defecation in open fields where families do not have toilet facilities in the home. The project team runs awareness campaigns on good hygiene and sanitation practices and the dangers of open defecation. As part of this the project has helped build 2350 toilets in the project area.      

Keru, 60, lives with his wife, daughter and son in the village of Nimon in Maharashtra, India. He earns about 80p per day through running small errands.

Like many in the region Keru and his family did not have a toilet in their house. Keru’s disability meant that he had to travel long distances to use a suitable toilet. This resulted in him experiencing acute pain.

Through the project’s sanitation campaign Keru was made aware of the importance of proper toilet facilities within the home. The family had little money though, and could not afford the cost of building a toilet. Keru discussed this with a project worker who had come to the village to discuss how the project could support villagers build toilets. The project agreed to supply Keru the materials needed to build. Keru and his son built the toilet and now the family has a toilet in their home.

Now the family does not have to defecate in open fields leading to better health outcomes for them and their neighbours. Keru does not need to travel far distances to use the toilet and as a result no longer suffers from acute pain. Keru speaks with his neighbours about the importance of toilet facilities in the home and others are now starting to follow his lead and build for themselves.

Sep 29, 2015

Update: Stories from the field

Here are some updates from the emergency relief efforts. Thanks so much for all of your donations and support. I'll be sharing more stories from the field soon.

 

Santa , 48 from Chhaimale has survived the earthquake but lost his grandson and his house. Santa says-‘This has been a horrifying experience. There is no explanation to how much painful this has been. I lost my only grandson. Our house has turned into rubble. Houses can be rebuilt but I can’t get my child back again.

I have seen lots of relief materials coming to the village but the powerful ones have seized them from people like us who actually needs the relief. However, I am thankful towards Green Tara for providing some relief during the need. Until now, Santa’s family has only received tent to live in temporarily and food ration from Green Tara Nepal. He hasn’t been much able to get his hands on relief materials provided by other agencies. He suggested that if any organisation wants to provide support to the disaster victims, they should directly approach the affected people and families rather than government officials and political leaders.

 

Padam, 35 is from Chhaimale-6. Like many of the residents in Chhaimale, he has seen his house turning into rubble within few minutes of the major earthquake. Padam and his family had received some relief materials including food ration and tarpoline tents from GTN/GTT, for which he is very grateful.

Padam shares- ‘Our house has turned into rubble in front of my eyes. We feel lucky to be even alive. I am very thankful towards GTN for providing the relief materials in such time of distress. Now, we atleast have a roof above our head and have food to eat. He further adds that he is particularly concerned about the children. He says- ‘They are very terrified at the moment. I worry that this experience might affect their health in long term. On the other hand, it is getting very difficult to maintain good hygiene. There are no proper toilets and waste disposal sites’. Awareness and support on these hygiene issues are needed.

 

Kancha, 40, from Chhaimale is now living with his family in a small makeshift tent after his house completely fell down as a result of the massive 7.6 Richter scale earthquake.

Kancha shared his excruciating experience with Green Tara Nepal’s staffs.-’ Before the earthquake, at least we had a house to live in, which we don’t have any more. All of the cattle we had came under the house and died. Our family is very poor. We don’t have anything else in the name of property. I don’t know if we can ever rebuild the house. All of this has been immensely horrible to me and my family. We are hoping for relief from government’s side soon.’

Kancha told that he has not received any sort of support from government’s side yet.

 

Chuna Sunar, 66 from Chhaimale-9 is another survivor of the 7.6 Richter scale major earthquake. Chuna’s house, like many other houses in the affected area is still standing but is not in a condition suitable to live in. She is now living under the tent provided by GTT/GTN with her family nearby her damaged house.

Chuna says’’ We are very thankful towards GTN for providing us food and tent (temporary shelter) in such difficult time. This has been very helpful in healing the wound somehow. Chuna also explained that there are no toilets or a place to dispose the waste. She was concerned regarding the health and hygiene of her family. She has requested Green Tara to provide support which will help them maintain health and hygiene.

 

Baburam, 86 is from Chhaimale-9.Baburam lives in a joint family with 18 members including his grandchildren. Like many of the residents in Chhaimale, he has seen his house turning into rubble within few minutes of the major earthquake.

Baburam says-‘In such difficult times, the only thing I am very grateful is that me and my family are safe. But I am not happy with the government authorities. It has been long that the earthquake has hit. Unfortunately, we haven’t received any relief materials or support from the government yet. The only support we have got is the food ration and the tent from Green Tara for which we are very thankful.

He is now living with his family under the tents provided by GTT/GTN as a support for the earthquake affected.

 
   

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