Educate Destitute Girls in Kolkata, India

by Tiljala Society for Human 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
Nafisha
Nafisha

Just over a year ago I reported this about Nafisha...

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”

Today I am delighted to report that Nafisha has passed her crucial Class X board exams and is looking forward to continuing in school and on to university.  This is an extraordinary achievemnt for a girl from a desperately poor slum family.  Nafisha is well on the way to being empowered through financial independence.   As an educated woman she will be able to determine whether, when and whom she marries. She will be able to support her own family and gain the respect of the community.  And it is thanks to you, as well as her own determination, that Nafisha has such a bright future. 

This Wednesday 12th July a donation towards a girl like Nafisha is worth 40% extra as it is a GlobalGiving bonus day.  If you set up a monthly recurring donation your first month's donation will be doubled.  

So please get online  at 2 pm (BST) or 9 am (EDT and help make a difference

Thank you very much


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Prizes for our top regular library users.
Prizes for our top regular library users.

It is very hot indeed in Kolkata this week.  The Monsoon rains are just a few days away and everyone is sweltering in 37 deg C as I write.  Imagine how difficult it must be to sleep at night in a tiny airless room shared with your extended family.

It is also Ramadan – a time of fasting and prayer.  Families share Iftar (or breakfast) after the sun sets at around 6.20 pm having had no food or water since before 5 am.  Some of our girls will be fasting for the first time this year: they may fast just a few days this time and build up to the full month as they grow older.  All of them will be looking forward to celebrating Eid when Ramadan is over.

For school children and students all over India it is results time.  Exams were in March and the results are now coming through.  I am delighted to tell you that all except one of our girls has passed her exams and all of them are starting the new academic year in the next grade.  The other girl hopes to be promoted to the next class anyway and we will work especially hard to help her catch up.  She is only 6 years old and studying in an English medium school so we expect her to do well in the long run.  She is very fortunate to have your support so that she does not get left behind. 

With the new school session beginning, we are busy sorting out any fees that need to be paid (school session fees, private tutors), making sure all the girls have uniforms and well fitting shoes.  With the monsoon rains just days away we ensure every girl has an umbrella a well as a school bag and a lunch box. Each girl will also receive all the books and stationery she needs for the beginning of the academic year. And importantly we ensure that every girl has proper nutrition by arranging small payments direct to the guardians.  

These are all the practical ways in which you are supporting the girls.  They are from such impoverished families that none of this would be possible without your help.  But of course, the girls receive so much more than this: they have access to the Gyan Azhar library, use of the books and computers; they attend extra curricular music and art sessions; we take them on excursions; and they have opportunities to volunteer with other organisations.  And being a member of this group of 17 sponsored girls is a source of great pride and motivation.  

Our special congratulations go to Nafisha who has passed her class X (public exams at aged 16, GCSE equivalent) and is applying to other schools for her class XI – XII studies.  We must also congratulate Sabahat who has passed class XII and is applying to go to college.  Without your help neither of these girls could have dreamed of gaining such qualifications. You have enabled them to reach for the future their mothers wish for them – economic independence, choice, dignity and freedom from poverty.

I am still looking for donors to come forward to take on individual girls.  For instance, we support Nafisha from the general fund, but I think she would benefit enormously from knowing she has a sponsor encouraging her.  Apart from a monthly donation via Global Giving, you’d be able to send & receive notes, and have detailed feedback on her progress.  You would also be very welcome to come to Kolkata and meet her.

Please contact me directly if you’d like to be a personal sponsor janemanson@tished.org

Motivational meeting for all girls
Motivational meeting for all girls
Nafisha - thrilled with Class X pass
Nafisha - thrilled with Class X pass
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Thank you for your support
Thank you for your support

It is summer and exam time in Kolkata. At the mercury rises so does the anxiety. The girls all need to pass their exams to progress into the next grade.  And because of your support for extra tuition the girls have a better chance than ever of succeeding at school and going on to higher education.

But of course education is about more than exams and results. Being a sponsored girl at Tiljala SHED opens up many other opportunities for all round growth and development. 

In February the project staff held an oral hygiene meeting.  They were shown how to brush their teeth, encouraged to visit a dentist annually (paid for out of sponsorship funds of course) and shown how eating too many sweets causes decay. 

Good health is also assured through physical activity. 11th February was our Annual Sports Day.  Six of the girls won prizes: Tabassum's team came 2nd in the relay race and Kahakasha (aged 5) came 3rd in the cap race.  They all did well in the garland making competition!

Our regular activities include bead making classes every Sunday; a guitar class on Saturdays; Maths coaching for the older girls on Sundays.  In January they held a special session to learn sandwich making.

The girls also join in other external events and national celebrations.  They all got together to celebrate on Republic Day 26th January and helped out at a huge distribution of rice to destitute families on 28th January.  In time for Valentine's Day they created greetings cards to distribute to the elderly. All the girls assembled in the library to celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March

Sponsorship provides these lucky girls not only with a good education but also many of the opportunities that we take for granted for our own children.  

If you haven't already please consider a regular donation of just £27 per month so that at least one girl is assured of ongoing support through these crucial years.

 

Thank you very much

Exam time is here
Exam time is here
Celebrating International Women's Day 2017
Celebrating International Women's Day 2017
Jane meets the girls and their mothers. 16/02/17
Jane meets the girls and their mothers. 16/02/17

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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 janemanson27@gmail.com

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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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata, West Bengal - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @TiljalaSHED
Project Leader:
Jane Manson
Kolkata, India
$65,471 raised of $100,000 goal
 
853 donations
$34,529 to go
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