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 Education  India Project #32034

Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata

by Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development
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Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Suman
Suman

Suman is 16 years old. He lives in a makeshift shack in Kolkata’s Topsia Canalside squatter camp. He lives with his parents and two younger siblings. His father, formerly a rickshaw driver, is now a security guard. His mother is a housewife. Family income is Rs5,000 – 8,000 a month (£50 - £80).

Suman has just sat his Class X exams and wants to be an electronics and telecommunications engineer.  How can that possibly happen for him?

Suman belongs to Tiljala SHED’s education programme, attending after school classes for children aged 12 and upwards. It’s a very successful programme, encouraging youngsters to remain in education. There are 40 other young people like Suman in his Evening Class. They all desperately want to make something of their lives. The girls are fighting social and parental pressure to drop out of school and to marry. The boys face the pressure to drop out of school and take up labouring jobs. Many of the boys end up involved in crime, violence and substance abuse. Suman looks at the other boys. He says “They could do so well in studies and in life. But most of them ruin their lives”. It is a credit to Suman’s parents that all their three children remain in education and that they support Suman’s ambitions.

Please consider a generous donation, to help other ambitious youngsters like Suman realise their dreams. My colleague, who interviewed Suman for me yesterday reported “He is sober, nice, calm, peace-loving, gentle, patient and shy.”  Yes he is. I met him in January and was so impressed.

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Sultana
Sultana

You’ll read here about two 16 year olds, who are keen to continue in education despite the considerable practical, financial and social pressures to quit.

Sultana is studying in class VII. She is a bright girl and wants to stay in education. She is very vulnerable as both her parents have abandoned her and her brother. They live in a shelter by the Topsia sewage canal. Sultana’s brother supports her out of his wages in a leather factory but he is away from the home all day until very late, leaving Sultana alone and at risk.  However, Sultana attends Tiljala SHED’s evening classes in our community centre just along the path from where she lives.  Every evening from 5 pm until 9 pm she and other teenagers receive support for their studies

Rohit is also 16 and, like Sultana, he attends evening classes in our Topsia Centre. Rohit lives with his disabled father, his mother and five siblings. His father runs a small grocery stall and his mother is a maidservant. The family income is very low.  Rohit wants to complete his education so that he can get a good job and support his family. He loves the evening classes and is making good progress at school.

It is very common for girls like Sultana in these ultra-poor communities to end up married at 13 or 14, illiterate and with little hope for a future any different from their parents’. A boy like Rohit would generally drop out of school at about 10 years old and would be sent out to work to help support the family.  This project enables these young people to remain in education. We work hard to persuade the parents that they should allow their children to stay at school; we encourage and support the youngsters in their studies and we motivate them by providing a safe, stimulating, fun and studious environment. 

Just £11 a month enables us to keep a child like Rohit or Sultana in education.

 

A note: You will have heard from GlobalGiving that there is a problem disbursing your donations to the project. This is because all GlobalGiving'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.

Rohit
Rohit
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Papiya
Papiya

You’ll read below reports from Kolkata about two of our students who are on the brink of completing their school education and who want to continue their studies. This is a huge challenge for them and their very poor families. Financial pressure drives youngsters to give up on education and start work.  Both Papiya and Gopal have disabled fathers and mothers who have been forced to become maidservants in order to make ends meet.  This is a distressingly common scenario. Illiterate men take on labouring jobs which eventually leave them crippled, and their illiterate wives end up as domestic helpers for tiny and unreliable salaries. Papia and Gopal desperately need your help so that they can support their families and avoid the fate of their parents.

PAPIYA is 18 and lives resides in a single room with her family. Her father works as a labourer but as he is handicapped he is not paid proper wages. Her mother works as a maidservant, very exploitative low paid work. She has one brother who dropped out of studies after completing his year 10 examinations. He now works as a labourer for an entrepreneur who rents out sound boxes and mike.

Papiya will be sitting her Class XII examinations next year but desperately needs educational support to continue with her studies.  This is a vulnerable moment for her: many girls complete school and then end up married off without continuing to higher education. With a degree she will truly be able to lift herself and her family out of poverty.

 

GOPAL is also 18. His father is disabled and cannot work properly. His mother works as a maid servant. He has two brothers and one sister.

Gopal is studying in class XII and will be appearing for examinations. His brother and sisters are all studying this puts a lot of financial pressure on the family finances . Gopal works in a catering company to augment family income. The money he earns is spent on his education .If he receives any support this will go a long way towards mitigating financial pressure .He is very keen to continue with his studies  and is also very ambitious.

The families in these two case studies are truly in need, as you’ll read.  But despite this they are determined that the children will stay in education.  This project provides the necessary support to ensure children from Kindergarten upwards are encouraged to stay in education. Every day we run after school classes in our Community Centres where the children come for remedial help with schoolwork. They have computer classes, singing lessons, homework support, sport, drama, nutritious snacks, occasional excursions and health care.  The parents are engaged too: they are almost all illiterate themselves but they understand the importance of education and are encouraged to see the big picture and not to marry their daughters off early or withdraw their sons from school to send them to work.  

Just £11 a month keeps a child like Papiya or Gopal in education.

Gopal
Gopal
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Trimming Chappals
Trimming Chappals

When you visit the Topsia canalside squatter community in Kolkata, one of the things you’ll notice is how many men, women and children are engaged in “chappal trimming”. The manufacturer delivers truckloads of untrimmed rubber sandals to the community every morning. Workers are paid 50 rupees (about 58 pence or 72 cents) for trimming twelve dozen pairs. This is exploitative piecework – but many families rely on it to be able to eat.

My colleague, Chanchal, who runs the education project writes….

“RUKSHANA lives with her large family at Mazdoorpara Topsia . Her father Safdar, who was a driver, cannot work after he met with an accident. Now he is involved in trimming slipper straps along with other members of the family. The income from this activity is very low hence there is a perpetual pressure on meeting the basic need of the family. His eldest son has married but does not contribute toward the family expenses. His other son who works in a factory contributes a nominal amount. His eldest daughter who was once married but has separated for her husband also lives with them with her daughter. She works as a maidservant. Her income just about supports her and her daughter.

Rukshana is studying in class X in Panchkari Radharani Adarsha Vidyalaya.

She got admitted in school quite late because of the family’s weak financial position. She tries to help the family by trimming slipper straps.

Tiljala Shed is trying to help her to come up in life by giving her opportunity to learn computer operations and also providing free coaching. She likes to take active part in games so that she remains fit and healthy.

 

SUMAN and his brother SUMIT live at Mazdoorpara Topsia with their family members. Suman studies in class X. His father is Ram from a neighbouring state Bihar. He used to work in a factory and earned enough to maintain his family but he met with an accident and lost his hand while operating a machine. He was laid off and the family earnings plummeted. He along with other members of the family are now involved in trimming slipper straps which is a highly exploitative vocation.  He tried to ply a van rickshaw but found it very difficult and had to give it up. One thing about the parents which is positive is that they want to educate their children who are also very much interested in studying. The brothers are very sincere and help to manage the class when required. They are also good in sports.  We thinks they are very able and with our help they will do well

The boys have a dream to become successful in life and change the fortunes of the family."

The families in these two case studies are truly in need, as you’ll read.  But despite this they are determined that the children will stay in education.  This project provides the necessary support to ensure children from Kindergarten upwards are encouraged to stay in education. Every day we run after school classes in our Community Centres where the children come for remedial help with schoolwork. They have computer classes, singing lessons, homework support, sport, drama, nutritious snacks, occasional excursions and health care.  The parents are engaged too: they are almost all illiterate themselves but they understand the importance of education and are encouraged to see the big picture and not to marry their daughters off early or withdraw their sons from school to send them to work.   

Parveen and Suman have done extremely well. They are both studying in class 10. Until this project began it was unheard of for children in this community to remain in school much beyond class 5 (aged about 10).  There are now dozens of young people who dare to dream of a better future than heavy labour or early marriage.

So if you ever visit the Topsia canalside squatter community, I hope you’ll notice how many young people are in school uniform, carrying books and school bags, perhaps heading off to well-paid work or to college. And that no family needs to trim chappals to feed hungry mouths.

Thank you for your continued support.  We desperately need more donors to help keep this project afloat, so please share this with friends and family.

Rukshana
Rukshana
Suman
Suman
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Kashmira loves school and our after school classes
Kashmira loves school and our after school classes

Each time I visit the Topsia Community Centre, I am bowled over by the children's singing.


Tiljala SHED’s 5 community centres are located in the heart of each of the 5 highly vulnerable communities where we work. The Topsia Centre can only be reached by crossing a footbridge over filthy water onto an island where 700 families live in illegal shelters surrounded by the foetid run-off from Kolkata’s sewerage system. Many won’t visit purely because of the smell. For the 150 children who attend our afterschool classes this is the only home they have ever known.


Step into the centre after 3 pm and you’ll be greeted with songs and poems. Although the children do not learn English at school, they have an extraordinary ability to pick up the language from the songs they learn after school. A working knowledge of written and spoken English provides a route out of the slum and into mainstream society. And they know it. If I ask the older ones what they really want, they all agree it is English lessons.


This week, all donations up to $50 (£38) are being matched 60% by GlobalGiving. This means that a £38 donation from a UK tax payer would be worth £70 to us. And that is enough to pay a month’s wages to a dedicated English teacher.
Please consider an additional donation this week or even set up a new regular donation, so that we can appoint English teachers in our 5 centres and give these children this opportunity to change their futures.

About the project
600 children of rag pickers, rickshaw drivers, maidservants, vegetable sellers are enrolled on Tiljala SHED's Education and Child Protection programme. They are required to attend their local government school but in the afternoon they attend remedial classes in T SHED's 5 centres, one in the heart of each community where we work. Here they play, sing, complete their homework, attend remedial sessions and child protection workshops. They love the classes and attendance is very high. Their parents are also closely involved - after all it is only with the parents' consent that the children remain in education and avoid dropping out. Tiljala SHED works very hard to persuade the parents that a proper education is worth the sacrifice of anything a boy might earn rag picking or working in a factory. And infinitely better than marrying off a daughter as soon as she reaches puberty.

 

Kashmira
Kashmira is nearly 7 years old and she lives in the Topsia squatter camp with her family.  Bablu, her father, makes about £1.50 ($2) a day pulling a riskshaw. Her mother, Meena, supplements this meagre income by working as a maidservant for £17 ($22) a month. At the moment, Bablu is sick and hasn’t been able to work for a while.  This is common: hard labour and poverty makes you vulnerable to illness, especially at this time of year when it is so hot. But to meet Kashmira you wouldn’t guess what hardship her family suffers.  She is the life and soul of the Topsia class.  At just 6 years old, she is a natural performer and leads the entire class of around 60 children in singing. She also loves school and is a top performer there too.  But sadly the realities of life in a community like this mean that there is a high chance of Kashmira dropping out of education and being married off as young as 14 to repeat the cycle of poverty, exploitation and child bearing.  All this energy and potential would be wasted. She needs your support to help her stay in education and make a different future fort herself.  It costs just £11 ($15) per month to support a child like Kashmira

Kashmira in Feb 2018
Kashmira in Feb 2018
After school session at Topsia
After school session at Topsia

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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
$13,158 raised of $108,000 goal
 
181 donations
$94,842 to go
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