Looking forward to coming back to class
I last reported on this project on 24th March just as country after country around the world was going into lockdown, including India.
Overnight, India's informal economy was forced to a halt. The daily labourers, rickshaw drivers, street vendors, domestic helpers, beggars and ragpickers found themselves unable to earn the daily wage they needed to feed themselves and their families. Starvation was only days away for many.
Schools closed and so did our after-school classes, the daily gatherings of up to 100 children in each of our community centres. 600 children from families which now faced an unknown future with no work and no income. The importance of education was brought into sharp focus by the lockdown. First, the children lost the midday meal and the day’s schooling provided by the state. Second, they lost the Tiljala SHED classes. They lost the joyful learning experience, the singing, the drama, the child protection education, the homework support, remedial education, the sport, the computer classes, the extra tuitions, the excursions, the library, the one-to-one support of our exceptional staff. Now they were at home and hungry.
Tiljala SHED’s main focus became overnight the relief of hunger. Swiftly Tiljala SHED's staff was reduced to the few who lived close enough to reach the target communities and an emergency office was set up in T SHED's Beauty Training Parlour. We could no longer run our education programme but instead we needed to ensure all these children and their families were well and able to eat.
Donations began to arrive from local philanthropic groups. Sacks of rice, lentils, flour, onions, biscuits, masks, gloves, hand sanitiser. We set up fundraising pages at GiveIndia and here on GlobalGiving. As Support began to roll in, our amazing staff rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Since early April Tiljala SHED has distributed food aid to well over 30,000 people. The team is exhausted but they are doing an incredible job. Crowds of destitute people line the alley way beside the emergency office begging for help. Staff take names, distribute coupons, purchase vast quantities of supplies, package it for individual families and then distribute. All through the hottest time of year, through Ramadan and now through the monsoon.
And when this is all over, we need to regroup, and most importantly to get these children and their families back in their feet. The children will need to be coaxed back into school (where they are often discriminated against because of their poverty) and welcomed back into our daily classes (which they love). Your donations will be more important than ever as we rebuild the education programme and support the children to reach for better lives and good employment in mainstream society.
Tiljala SHED itself is also going to need institutional support: our immediate crisis is the vehicle. Our 12 year old van is finally worn out. Without it we cannot bring the aid to people who still desperately need it, so please consider today a donation towards replacing the van. We also still badly need donations for emergency food relief.
Emergency Food Distribution
Park Circus class - January 2020