Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India

by Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development
Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India
Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India
Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India
Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India
Shehnaz "Thank you"
Shehnaz "Thank you"

To grow up the child of a rag picker puts you among one of the most marginalised and despised groups in society. Even within the slum where you live, you are at the back of the queue for water. In a highly stratified society you are right at the bottom. Shehnaz’s mother is a ragpicker. She supports her family of six by collecting cardboard, plastic, paper and metal waste from the streets and selling in on to dealers.
Unlike many other rag pickers Shehnaz’s mother wants her children to stay away from child labour and to get an education. All the children except Shehnaz’s disabled 6 year old brother attend school. We admitted Shehnaz to this programme because her mother couldn’t afford to pay for the additional tuition necessary for her daughter to pass her exams. Since then Shehnaz has passed her class X and is happily studying in class XI. With your support and her hard work she will pass class XII next year and have the opportunity to go into higher education.

I am particularly excited that I’ll be able to meet Shehnaz and all the other girls on this programme next week when I’ll be in Kolkata to catch up on all Tiljala SHED’s projects. So watch this space for up to date news.

Meanwhile Shehnaz and her family send a special thank you to our GlobalGiving donors and wish you a Happy New Year.

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Dulari
Dulari

Almost a year ago I reported here about 6 ambitious young women who were busy defying all expectations and about to embark on a university career. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/educate-destitute-girls-in-kolkata-india/reports/?subid=99072

Today I am delighted to report that they are all doing well and loving college life.  Back in November 2017, we were worried about Dulari. 

Like the others she had proceeded against the odds through the Islamia Girls High School (enduring class sizes of 150 and upwards).  She had been inspired by Sofia Khan, who had grown up in the same slum but had fought the system and is now a senior officer in the West Bengal Civil Service.  Determined to get into university, Dulari jumped at Tiljala SHED’s offer of free Sunday tuitions, passed her class 12 exams and won a free place to Bhawanipore College.

But her family was so poor that her parents wouldn’t be able to spare her for any more education, nor would they be able to provide her with the books, stationery, travel costs and other expenses she needed to be able to continue with her education.

Thanks to your generosity Dulari was able to join this sponsorship programme and all these costs are covered.  She wants to join the civil service, like Sofia.  You have given her the opportunity to make a success of her life.

 

Report from Shreya and Aamna who run the programme:

"Dulari lives with her family in a rented room at jannagar Road kol-17 Her father Md Alauddin he works as a Auto Driver and he earn very less Her mother Kharuinisa she is a house wife .They are four sisters all of them are studying in school. At present she is studying in B.A 1st year at Bhawanipur education society college it’s a famous collage at Kolkata. She said thanks to GlobalGiving Project for her support now she is getting everything .Before getting the sponsorship she was in Anjuman Islamia Girls High School during that time she faces many problems it’s a big challenge for her to complete her education her family is very grateful to GlobalGiving Education. Hopefully she will complete her graduation."

At college, changing lives, changing the world
At college, changing lives, changing the world
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Zaira then and now
Zaira then and now

This is Zaira.  She joined the Global Giving sponsorship programme when she was just 4 years old.  She lives in a 100sq ft rented room in the Tiljala slum with her family of five.  Her father earns just Rs4000 (£45 or USD58) per month as a labourer.  When the parents approached Tiljala SHED, we thought Zaira was too young.  However her mother, Nazni, told us how Zaira was already loving primary school.  Her parents were so keen that their daughter should have this chance and that they would do everything they could to support her. All her mother wants is for Zaira to get an education and have a better chance in life than she had herself. How could we say no?   I am so delighted to report that 2 and a half years later, Zaira is doing really well.  She has just completed class 3.  She scored an astonishing 87% in her year end exams and still loves school.   She says she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. 

For Zaira’s family sponsorship means that they do not have to go without food or get into debt in order to provide Zaira with the books, school bag, shoes and uniform that she needs.  She’ll receive extra tuition where she needs it; she will attend a variety of cultural, arts, sporting events; she is a member of the Gyan Azhar library where she can study, learn computer skills, read and borrow books.  The family also receives a small allowance to ensure that Zaira gets good nutrition.

It costs just £27 a month to sponsor a girl like Zaira.

Zaira with her mother and sister
Zaira with her mother and sister
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Shehnaz
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

Links:

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Resham, Child Club leader, future journalist
Resham, Child Club leader, future journalist

63 million women, girls missing due to India's preference for boys

I was shocked at this headline in the Times of India a couple of weeks ago

According to Indian government statistics 63 MILLION girls were either conceived but never born, died as infants or neglected in childhood and died young. I was in Kolkata when I read the headline and had spent the previous day with a wonderful group of young women and girls from a very deprived rag picker community in the Topsia Canalside Squatter camp. It’s a horrible place, a narrow strip of land surrounded on both sides by the putrid waters of one of Kolkata’s canals.  They call them canals, but in truth these are huge open sewers.

Over the decades the rural landless poor have migrated to the city in the hope of making a better living for themselves and their families.  Many end up in illegal shelters on government land like this Topsia encampment. They make a living through rag picking, operating cycle rickshaws or doing exploitative piecework. Illiteracy, disease, poverty, child labour, child marriage, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence are common problems across all such deprived communities. 

When I read that appalling headline, I immediately thought of Saika, Resham and their friends in the Topsia Canalside Squatters. What a fantastic bunch of girls. They are members of the Topsia Child Club which is responsible for monitoring the welfare of children in the community. They have been trained by Tiljala Shed through workshops, street theatre and other interventions to recognise where child rights are being violated. They are particularly proud that they called in the right authorities recently to have a child marriage stopped.  They love this work and clearly feel valued and confident. Each one has big ambitions: Saika wants to be a scientist. Resham, the natural leader of this little group, wants to be a journalist. Others want to be teachers, doctors and businesswomen. None of them is interested in getting married yet. This is remarkable. They are all first-generation learners; their mothers are illiterate and probably married in their mid-teens. Tiljala SHED, with the help of all its generous donors, will continue to work for these wonderful inspirational young women, because they are the future for their whole community. Think what a difference those 63 million might have made given the chance.

Your generous donations go towards keeping girls like Saika and Resham in education, protecting them from child marriage, child labour and child abuse and enabling them, in turn, to protect others.  Every penny or cent you donate is used carefully and responsibly.  

Saika.  Wit, Child Club member, future scientist
Saika. Wit, Child Club member, future scientist
Girl Members of the Topsia Child Club
Girl Members of the Topsia Child Club
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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @TiljalaSHED
Project Leader:
Jane Manson
Kolkata, India
$51,649 raised of $60,000 goal
 
682 donations
$8,351 to go
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