Zeenat was one of the first girls enrolled in this project in 2016. She was living in a tiny single room in the slum with her mother and younger brother. Her parents are divorced so her mother, a saleswoman, supports her family on just £30 (or $40) a month.
Many girls in Zeenat’s position would have found themselves married off in their early teens, practically illiterate, poor and destined to a life of drudgery and childbearing. But Zeenat and her mother clearly had different ideas. Zeenat, against the odds, remained in school. We met her when she was in class XII and about to leave school. She very much wanted to go on to university but needed the financial support to do so. 3 years on she is studying Law at Calcutta University. She is doing well, having passed every semester and wants to become a barrister.
Zeenat is unusual in her ambition and imagination and we were very happy to take her on. Thanks to your generosity Zeenat has every chance of changing her destiny and perhaps changing many lives for the better through her career. It is rare for girls from this kind of background to step out of the slum in this way and we are so proud of her.
Your donations cover the cost of fees, books, stationery, travel, nutritional supplements, medical aid and other incidentals. It makes the difference between continuing her education or abandoning her dreams.
Thank you for making this possible.
A note: You will have heard from Global Giving that there is a problem disbursing your donations to the project. This is beause all Global Giving's disbursements to Indian projects have been held up at government level. I am working on a solution which will unblock the funds and get your donations safely where they need to go. Meanwhile, the project is moving forward as we always aim to keep a modest cushion of funds for just this eventuality.
Thank you for your patience.
Zainab was one of the first girls to be sponsored under this programme back in 2016. She’s from a desperately poor family, living in a single room and surviving on her father’s tiny salary of Rs4000 (about £45) a month. Zainab is a hard-working student and loves knowing that she has a sponsor, Jean, who lives far away in England.
Jean’s generosity provides Zainab everything she needs to ensure she can benefit best from her education: uniform, shoes, a school bag, books, stationery, the cost of travel, extra tuition, nutritional supplements and so on.
But being a sponsored girl means so much more than that. Zainab is also a member of the Gyan Azhar library, a girls-only facility where she can study, borrow books and use the computers. There are also frequent invitations to the library for opportunities to learn beyond the school curriculum. This summer there have been awareness sessions covering good nutrition, personal health and hygiene. They learned how to spot and how to prevent tuberculosis. They had a session on menstrual hygiene. On Earth Day, the girls learned about environmental issues discussing the problems of plastic waste: they had a go at making their own paper bags out of newspaper. Young volunteers from local schools organised a drawing competition, dance, singing and fashion events for our girls.
So, for Zainab, being part of the sponsorship programme is more than the school kit and other educational expenses: it is also about widening her horizons, expanding her understanding of how to stay healthy, enjoying new cultural experiences and meeting other young people from around the city. Zainab can aspire to life beyond the tiny room in the slum, a life beyond illiteracy, drudgery and child-bearing.
Thank you for giving Zainab and all the other girls a vision and hope of a better future.
“Ayesha is 12 studying at Anjuman Girl’s High Secondary School. She lives with her family of 5 in a single room. Her father is a painter who paints posters. His monthly income is not stable because his work is temporary. Ayesha’s brother is a labourer in a small shoe making shop and his wages are very low. Total family income is £30 a month, not enough to run the whole family. Ayesha may have to stop studying due to her poor family income. She is a bright student; she aims to become an art designer. If she gets proper guidance and financial support then she has a bright future ahead.”
This is what my colleagues wrote about Ayesha in 2016 when we were first looking for a sponsor for her. There are two things that strike me about this: first, that hand-painted posters, once a huge industry which produced the most wonderful advertising posters whether for Bollywood films, butter or cement, are definitely a thing of the past. I wonder that Ayesha’s father finds any work at all. Ayesha’s mother is a delightful woman who is totally committed to ensuring Ayesha gets the education that she herself never had, but she is illiterate and works entirely within the home making sure her husband’s meagre earnings stretch to fill all the needy stomachs. The other striking part, is that Ayesha might have had to stop school if she hadn’t been sponsored. The reason for this is not that school isn’t free. Ayesha’s school is a government school and there are no fees. However, school uniform, books, bus fares etc all had to be found, and this was beyond means of the family. The next thing would have been to marry her off so that someone else would feed and clothe her. All that bright ambition would have been wasted and Ayesha would have ended up just like her mother.
Happily, Ayesha did find a sponsor. Sheila has supported Ayesha over the last three years. There were moments when I worried she might drop out. In a very traditional community like this, a girl who takes a boyfriend, can be hustled into an early marriage – thus abruptly ending her education. But she has stood firm and I’m thrilled to report that Ayesha has passed her class X exams (equivalent to GCSEs) and has enrolled into class XI. So she remains on track. It isn’t easy from here though: class sizes at the Anjuman Girls High School are as big as 120 girls, so she will continue to need all the support we can offer under this sponsorship programme. Sheila’s contribution covers all books, extra tuition fees, transportation costs, uniform, shoes, school bag and any necessary nutrition or medical needs. She is a member of our Gyan Azhar Library, a safe space to work, borrow books, to use the computers and internet. She attends cultural activities – dance, craft and also lifestyle sessions on nutrition, menstrual health and online safety.
We are desperately looking for more sponsors like Sheila, who will commit £30 a month to supporting a girl like Ayesha. The equivalent of one hour’s private tuition in UK provides a whole month of vital educational support.
Kahkasha was just 6 years old when she joined this project. She is from a very poor family: her father is a waiter who earns just £55 ($72) each month. With that he supports his wife Farzana, daughter Kahkasha (now aged 9) and her younger brother. They live in a single rented room of about 3m x 3m. They are a respectable family who want the best for their daughter. But Kahkasha struggled in her first years at school. Shreya, who runs the programme, was very concerned as she feels very responsible for ensuring that your donations are properly spent. So she engaged Anjum, one of the graduates from this programme, to give Kahkasha some extra tuition – and it seems that this has really paid off. You can see the difference between this year’s and last year’s reports. Her grades have gone from mainly Ds and Cs to As and Bs. Her teachers are very pleased and so are her parents.
“Kahkasha was promoted to class 1 she scores good number her percentage is 64% she did well. Before getting support from GlobalGiving, she was very weak in studies but now Anjum is giving her private tuition regularly now they are getting every benefit from GlobalGiving. Her family said they highly obliged to GlobalGiving. Her father works as a waiter in a restaurant where he earns very less amount of money RS 5000 per month. In this amount he has to manage his family with this small amount. Kahkasha has a younger brother now he is 3 years old and her mother Farzana she is a housewife she do all the house hold works at her home and also sit with her children when they comes from school ,they try to give proper education to their child so we hope that they will success in their life”
We are so pleased that Kahkasha is now doing well, and with your continued support we hope she will continue to shine.
A monthly donation of £27 provides hope for the future for girls from very poor families. This support ensures that the girl remains in education and does not end up married off early or engaged in child labour.
This week every donation to this project (up to $50 or £38) will be matched 60% by GlobalGiving. So a donation of £38 from a UK tax payer is worth £70.30 to us. Please consider an extra donation to help a girl like Kahkasha
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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