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
Zainab - thrilled to be a Sponsored Girl
Zainab - thrilled to be a Sponsored Girl

Thanks to your amazing generosity we have now raised enough to sponsor these 15 girls for a full 12 months. 

Four of the girls have a named sponsor, and the rest have been covered by donations to the project in general.  Thanks to Global Giving’s match funding bonus events, many of your donations have been increased by 50%. 

This is a great result and the girls are all absolutely delighted. 

Zainab has been sponsored by Jean.  Zainab is 12 and in class 7 at her local Urdu High School.  Her father, Hussain,  is a driver earning just 3000 rupees a month (£36).  They live in a rented room of about 9 m2.  It is a daily struggle for him to feed his family of five and keep Zainab and her siblings in school.   But Zainab is a bright and enthusiastic student who loves school and wants to complete her education and become financially independent.  She is fully supported by her parents so we expect Zainab and her family to flourish under the sponsorship scheme.

What does sponsorship mean for Zainab? Zainab’s school expenses will now be covered: session fees, school fees and private tuition fees. Her family receives a small stipend to buy healthy food and supplements. When she purchases books or stationery she claims back the cost of these from the sponsorship fund.  She’ll get a school bag, a tiffin box (lunch box) and school uniform and shoes as required.

But being a sponsored girl means much more than this…  Tiljala SHED is most fortunate to have a small library dedicated to the girls in the heart of the slum.  This is the central meeting place where the girls can go to study in peace, use the books and the computers.  Here they have dance lessons, guitar lessons, craft sessions or just spend time with their friends in a safe place. For girls in these traditional societies, it is not possible to hang around in public places.  So the Gyan Azhar library is a real lifeline.  Tiljala SHED’s staff are always on hand to help out, listen where necessary and mentor the girls.  It is a happy place with a real buzz.  Among the activities laid on for the girls in the last 6 weeks have been

  • remedial maths classes,
  • an excursion to a theme park (organised by the Round Table organisation),
  • awareness meetings for girls and their guardians covering health, nutrition and child/women’s rights among other issues
  • craft sessions to make bead jewellery, dream catchers and greetings cards
  • weekly guitar classes
  • a visit by the children of the private school La Martiniere who brought gifts
  • First Aid training

It is the contact with one another, the inspiration from the older girls, the kindness and dedication of the Tiljala SHED staff and the sense of belonging to an important and life changing programme that makes the real difference to these girls.

Your donations make it possible for vulnerable girls from very deprived communities to dream of a better life and to reach out for it through education.

On their behalf a huge thank you and please keep on donating.  There is a long way to go…

Guitar lessons
Guitar lessons
First Aid training
First Aid training
All 15 sent cards to thank you...
All 15 sent cards to thank you...
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Anjum (now a librarian) and Tabassum
Anjum (now a librarian) and Tabassum

Ayesha is 12 years old and studying in class VII. She lives with her family of 5 in a single room. Her father is a poster painter. His monthly income is not stable because his work is temporary. Total family income is £30 a month, not enough to run the whole family.  Ayesha is a bright and ambitious girl: she wants to become a designer. But the family were finding it very difficult to keep Ayesha in school until Sheila stepped forward to provide sponsorship.  Now Ayesha is able to stay in school and get the extra tuition needed to help her pass her exams. Her books and uniform are paid for.  She gets health check ups and nutritional supplements. The staff at Tiljala SHED noticed that she is very thin and will use some of the funds to ensure she gets a proper diet.  Thanks to Sheila's generosity, Ayesha now stands an excellent chance of completing high school and going on to train as a designer.  She will avoid the trap of early marriage, illiteracy and poverty.

Tabassum is 17 and in class XII, the final year of school. She lives in her grandmother's home (a single 60 sq ft room) with her parents, her brother and her sister, Anjum.  Tabassum's father is very unwell and unable to support the family, so her mother works as a maidservant, earning just £20 per month.  Happily, Anjum was also a sponsored girl with Tiljala SHED and completed her degree and now works as a librarian, bringing in just enough to keep this family going.  Like Anjum, Tabassum is bright and ambitious and wants to make a success of her life.  And this is now possible - as Helen has come forward to support Tabassum through her college education.  I have met both Anjum and Tabassum and they are a formidable pair.  By giving Tabassum this chance, Helen is empowering a young woman who will not only transform her own and her familiy's life, but is also a role model for other girls.  

Suhana is just 4. She is a happy fun loving child with absolutely no idea what a terrible hand she was dealt at birth. Suhana's father is long gone and doesn't support the family in any way.   Sonali, Suhana's mother, is a maidservant (one of the only respectable options for an illiterate woman) and earns just £20 per month.They live with Suhana's grandmother.  They only survive because Sonali's employers sometimes give her food to take home to the family. Thanks to Karen, Suhana now has sponsorship.  Suhana will receive all the necessary support to keep her in education and to ensure that she progresses well from grade to grade.  The family will also receive a small stipend to encourage them to keep the little girl in school. 

For the other 12 girls, we are doing what we can with the funds already raised.   Our experienced project team, Shreya and Aamna, assess the greatest needs and help each girl accordingly.  But it isn't nearly enough: what we really need is more sponsors to come forward to commit just £27 per month to help a vulnerable girl like Suhana, Tabassum or Ayesha to stay in education, to avoid the terrible traps of illiteracy, early marriage, and poverty which have blighted their own mothers' lives.

I have met all of these girls and their mothers and I can absolutely reassure you that every penny goes where it should.  I have also met a lot of girls who have been sponsored through this scheme and, like Anjum, are now in work, confident and self sufficient.  

If you want to discuss this in any more detail, please contact me

Thank you from all of them.  They are very happy indeed to be on the programme.

Ayesha with her mother
Ayesha with her mother
Suhana with her mother
Suhana with her mother
Meeting all the girls
Meeting all the girls

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Nafisha  "I want to stand on my own feet"
Nafisha "I want to stand on my own feet"

Last time I visited Kolkata, in February this year, my colleagues, Aamna and Shreya, asked me for a special favour: to find funds to sponsor 15 girls.

For 20 years Tiljala SHED has been running a very successful programme providing educational support to girls from the nearby slums. The girls are carefully screened to ensure that they are truly in need and that they will respond positively to the opportunity sponsorship provides. Over the years we have seen almost 500 girls complete their schooling and many go on to colleges and universities. They have become civil servants, teachers, nurses and businesswomen. Many now work for NGOs around Kolkata and all are an inspiration to young girls from their communities. Through sponsorship, they are able to avoid the traps of early marriage, illiteracy, drudgery, poverty and abuse.

I have met many of the girls on this scheme and I am amazed at their confident and positive outlook on life. They know that they have choices that were not there for their mothers – and some of them have very big ambitions: Shaista wants to join the IPS, the most prestigious police service in India: Nasima is in her 3rd year at college and wants to become an English teacher (see her video).

The funds for the sponsorship program mostly come from an Italian NGO, but the funds are limited and these 15 girls have not found sponsors, despite having been screened and approved by Tiljala SHED.

Thanks to you, these girls now have some hope. On June 15th you helped us raise a magnificent £1900 towards our 5 year goal of £22,000. Once Global Giving has collected Gift Aid for us (at 25% of donations from UK tax payers) and the funds are remitted to Kolkata we will start to support these 15 girls. It should be in the next few days.

Zeenat is 18 and has stayed at school despite her very poor circumstances: her parents divorced when she was very young and her mother struggles to bring Zeenat and her younger brother up on just £30 a month. Your donation means that Zeenat can realise her dream of going to college and one day being able to support her mother and lift the family out of poverty.

Suhana is just 4 years old and is at primary school. Her parents are separated so she lives with her mother and grandmother in a 70 sq ft room. Her mother, Sonali aged 27, is uneducated and works as a maid servant earning just £15 a month to keep this little family going. Suhana’s father has a new partner and doesn’t support Suhana or her mother. Sonali wants a better future for her little girl than hers.

Nafisha is 15 years old and studying in class IX at an Urdu medium school. She lives with her parents and 3 siblings in a rented room 8’ X 10’. Her father takes home just £50 a month of which £10 is paid in rent. She says ”I really want to continue my education to masters level. I want to stand on my own feet”

Thank you for supporting these girls. They will be so excited to know that they are to become “Sponsor Girls” – have been the 15 unlucky “Nonsponsor Girls”. They have the guidance and support of Amna and Shreya and the rest of the great team at Tiljala SHED as well as the practical financial support to pay for their school books, uniforms, extra tuition fees, health checks and a small family stipend to encourage the parents to keep their daughters in education and not marry them off. There is also a small library, the Gyan Azhar Library,  in the heart of the Tiljala community, run by Tiljala SHED exclusively for these girls. 

I am visiting Kolkata again next month and I am looking forward to catching up with the girls and then reporting back to you.

Suhana: a better life than her mother's
Suhana: a better life than her mother's
Zeenat: I want to go to college
Zeenat: I want to go to college


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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata - India
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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