This project will provide a community Iftar meal during the month of Ramadan for 2000 from Kolkata's ultra poor rag picker families. We will hire and decorate a hall in each of the communities where we work and bring in the poorest of the poor to enjoy eating together with family and friends. This is a joyful annual event much anticipated by all, enhances community cohesion and brings in supporters and volunteers to share the occasion.
It is Ramadan, a time of fasting during the heat of the day. But the rag pickers in the Topsia squatter camp are used to hunger. It is what drives them out in the small hours of the morning to collect other people's rubbish so that they can feed their families. With the recent arrival of waste compactors, there is less waste to collect and incomes have halved. The rag pickers, mostly women, are exhausted, anxious and hungry. There is little joy in their lives, little hope for the future.
Whilst Tiljala SHED is working hard on sustainable long term solutions for these people (see other projects) this time we want to give some joy,, show them the world cares about them and that they too can celebrate with their families during important festivals. For one evening they will be generously fed, remember what a full stomach feels like, and for a few hours forget their harsh lives. Helping vulnerable communities is also about building trust and co operation.
By bringing these vulnerable people in and providing a nutritious hot meal, we are establishing relationships within the community and a level of trust which will enable us to make long term and permanent improvements. Clean water, toilet facilities and a health centre are planned. With good health and education these children will have the opportunity to make more of their lives and leave the squatter camps to engage fully in India's growing economy. This is the first step.