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.
Nov 17, 2015

Sahil No Longer Malnourished

Sahil is three years old. He lives with his parents, grandparents and uncle in the village of Kare in Maharashtra, India. He is cared for by his grandmother as his parents go out to work during the day.

When Shail first came to the attention of the project team he was severely malnourished. He was underweight and had stunted growth. Following careful examination by the project doctor and referral to a specialist it was found that he had a heart defect.

To treat Sahil’s malnourishment and bring him to normal weight and height he was given supplementary nutrition and vitamins. He was given spirulina candies for two years continuously and targeted nutrition rich food such as ground nuts and jaggery. His grandmother completed the project’s caregiver programme where she learnt about nutritious cooking and good childcare practise.

Now Sahil comes to the project crèche regularly to play with other children, something that he could not do before. His mother comments on all the changes in him and is very grateful to the project team for their help. None of this would have been possible without the help of the projects supporters.

Nov 13, 2015

Payal Gets A New Life

Payel is ten years of age. She lives in the slum area of Gunjal in Pune. She stays with her mum and dad and two brothers.

Before joining project activities Payal would move around from slum to slum with her family. Her life was not very stable. Her mum suffers from severe mental health difficulties and faces a lot of stigma within the community. Her father also suffers from alcoholism and is violent towards her mother. Difficulties with neighbors would push the family from home to home.

Payal was not enrolled in school. Her mother would keep her at home so she could do domestic chores. She spent much of her time indoors and away from other children.

The project team learnt of Payal through their project area survey. Before starting work in a new slum the team surveys each household. They record the number of girls in the area and if they are married, working or in education. This way they know who can benefit from the project’s activities.

The first thing the team did was to help Payal get enrolled in school. At first she did not like going because she was amidst younger children and had fallen behind. The project’s after school study classes and extra tuition helped bring her confidence levels up. Now one of Payal’s favorite things to do is study. Even when other activities are on Payal continues to study in the space provided. Her brother is also now enrolled in the boy’s group.

The project team has intervened with Payal’s parents to stop the domestic violence. They have also found mental health treatment for her mum. Things are improving as a result and Payal now finds she is not as fearful when she is at home. In the future she wants to complete her studies and become a doctor. None of this would have been possible without the project and its supporters.     

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
 
   

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