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.
Jul 31, 2012

Shweta Salve

Name of Beneficiary:  Shweta Navnaath Salve

Age: 17 years

Education: 11th STD

I, Shweta Navnath Salve, have sat the S.S.C. examination [an examination for government jobs]. Such a thing marks a great turnaround in my life, which has only been possible due to the work of the project. 

After joining the classes there has been a radical change in my mind, in my personality, in my nature and my ability to think about things.

I have been living in Shantinagar since my childhood. It is clearly a 'slum', and in my experience, the surroundings and atmosphere around us clearly influence the way we think.

After I completed my 10th standard examination, I had to do something with myself in the holidays. I therefore joined the classes to learn spoken English, and basic computer skills. 

Before, I used to think that teachers were only good for teaching their subject. But here I see that they serve as good examples, and that I can change myself for the better, as well as learn whatever I am being taught. I have learned so much here. So much of what I've learned is important for my personal development. My secondary school education is over now, and I will go to college and probably try and find some work as well. But before I did not know anything about how adanced the world is before, when all I know was the four walls of my house and my school. But I learnt about myself in these life skills classes. The teacher and other girls have impressed my with their softness, their kindness. Not only this, but they have provided a useful practical service. Now I can look critically at this society and my position. I hope to live in a wiser way than this, and to have a job also.

I am very grateful to the project staff.

Jul 31, 2012

Why is India so bad for women?

Dear supporters,

I thought that this week, as well as posting a story from the project, I could also bring attention to this article which was doing the rounds in the office last week. It makes for quite interesting reading, and highlights why the work of Dr Mune and her team is so crucial in India.

"...a survey that caused indignation in India last month: a poll of 370 gender specialists around the world that voted India the worst place to be a woman out of all the G20 countries. It stung – especially as Saudi Arabia was at the second-worst. But the experts were resolute in their choice. "In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour," said Gulshun Rehman, health programme development adviser at Save the Children UK, who was one of those polled.

Look at some statistics and suddenly the survey isn't so surprising. Sure, India might not be the worst place to be a woman on the planet – its rape record isn't nearly as bad as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, where more than 400,000 women are raped each year, and female genital mutilation is not widespread, as it is in Somalia. But 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010); 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund) and research from Unicef in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife. Plus crimes against women are on the increase: according to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011 (when there were 228,650 in total). The biggest leap was in cases under the "dowry prohibition act" (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).

A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

A glance at the Indian media reveals the range of abuse suffered by the nation's women on a daily basis. Today it was reported that a woman had been stripped and had her head shaved by villagers near Udaipur as punishment for an extramarital affair. Villagers stoned the police when they came to the rescue. In Uttar Pradesh, a woman alleged she was gang raped at a police station – she claimed she was set on by officers after being lured to the Kushinagar station with the promise of a job.

Last Wednesday, a man in Indore was arrested for keeping his wife's genitals locked. Sohanlal Chouhan, 38, "drilled holes" on her body and, before he went to work each day, would insert a small lock, tucking the keys under his socks. Earlier this month, children were discovered near Bhopal playing with a female foetus they had mistaken for a doll in a bin. In the southern state of Karnataka, a dentist was arrested after his wife accused him of forcing her to drink his urine because she refused to meet dowry demands.

In June, a father beheaded his 20-year-old daughter with a sword in a village in Rajasthan, western India, parading her bleeding head around as a warning to other young women who might fall in love with a lower-caste boy."

Read the full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/23/why-india-bad-for-women

Jul 30, 2012

Project Expansion and Update

Dear Supporters,

I am happy to update you with some exciting new developments in the last months. Due to the success of the 'Child Rights' model utilized by our project partners NISD, we applied for and have received funding from the UK Government  (Department for International Development) to run an expanded version of this project for 3 three years. DFID are now funding 70% of this expanded project, with Karuna raising the remainder.

Additional elements of the project include:

Supplementary nutrition provided to all children, twice a day.

Books, uniforms and educational materials distributed to the thousand poorest children. 

Community-Led Total Sanitation' programme - raising awareness amongst at least 9,000 people on such issues as water handling, food hygiene and disposal of human and animal waste, and encourage construction and use of toilets and soak pits by at least 2,350 families.

Self-help Groups (SHGs) and Vocational Training - 200 women’s SHG leaders will improve their literacy and financial skills, learn how to access resources and start small businesses. This learning will be shared will 4,000 women. 800 youths will receive training in areas relevant to the local market such as plumbing, electricity, hospital assistance and jewellery making. 

Though the new activities were only recently expanded, the project team have been quick in implementing them. Since April: 

  • A survey has been conducted of all the school children in the locality to establish attendance levels and economic background.
  • 17 new villages identified for the project to be rolled out in and activities commenced.
  • 18 new pre-school centers established and classes started.
  • 25 new study support classes started.
  • Survey of facilities in all the schools in the locality will soon be completed. This will tell us about sanitation, general maintenance, and safety of the facilities.
  • The project is just completing final staff interviews in order to have a full project team.
  • Work at village level has started by meeting with the local parliament and gaining their trust in the project.
  • The school enrollment campaigns have started to encourage parents to send their children to school, including poster campaign and village level awareness meetings.

We wish the project team success with their continuing work, and shall be keeping you updated with the progress.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

 

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