Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families

by Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Alternative livelihoods for 500 ragpicker families
Raushan
Raushan

The typical life story of a girl born into a very poor family in Kolkata would tell how she drops out of school, marries at 18 and bears several children. Living in a single room or a makeshift shelter, she worries daily how she can feed her growing family. She is functionally illiterate so when things get desperate she turns to ragpicking or becoming a maidservant.

We work with girls who want to break this narrative and this cycle of poverty. 

Raushan is 23. Her mother died when she was a child. She lives in a single room with her father, a tailor, and her brother and sister. Both siblings dropped out of school when their mother died and they are now on low wages as shop assistants. Raushan fought to stay in education and even went to college. When Tiljala SHED offered a 6 month vocational course in hair and beauty she jumped at the opportunity and has set up her own business as a beautician.  She found she had a talent for make-up and hairdressing and is also a talented henna artist. She is in great demand for weddings.

Many girls do this kind of work, but it is not well paid. So Raushan decided to expand her business: she took a Rs20,000 loan (£200) from Tiljala SHED's Livelihood Programme and bought new equipment and products and has also started training other girls.

When she first started her income was around Rs6000 per month, but now she earns at least Rs20,000. She repaid the original loan very quickly and is now in the process of applying for a second loan so that she can expand her business further. 

We are so proud of Raushan: she is a talented and determined girl who is an inspiration to other young women. We are also proud that we were able to provide her with the initial vocational skills and then the necessary investment to build her business.

Now - if she wants to - she can marry. She is financially independent.

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Shila
Shila

Meet Shila. She lives with her husband and her son Rohit near the Sealdah railway Colony in central Kolkata, India.  Her daughter married and left the family home three years ago. Shila and her family are very poor, but they are also hard working and determined to improve their lives. Rohit is in class XI: he is committed to staying at school and going on to college. Shila’s husband is a driver and earns about $132 a month. Shila used to work in a tailor’s shop and earned $2.65 a day. Life was a struggle.

But when Tiljala SHED established its Alternative Livelihood programme in 2016 Shila came forward for a loan and borrowed Rs15000 ($200) to buy a sewing machine. She set up her own tailoring business and immediately her daily income doubled.

She applied for and received a further Rs20,000 ($265) in 2020 in order to purchase stock and expand her business, which is now thriving. Shila has repaid all the funds she borrowed and has even been able to purchase an apartment for Rs15 lakh ($20,000). She is supporting her son’s education and is even able to build up her savings.

My colleagues say of Shila “She is a very enterprising woman” and “She is a good leader and helps us with collecting the loans”

Shila is an inspiration and a guide for other women who want to help their families by setting up a small business. And it is through your generosity that we can continue to extend this livelihood support to more and more women.

USD265 helps a destitute woman launch a small business. Once the loan is repaid it can be lent again and again.

Thank you for your generous support

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Livelihood CIG Meeting Sept 2021
Livelihood CIG Meeting Sept 2021

Over the past 5 years Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme has helped lift up 630 families in some of Kolkata’s worst slums by making small business loans to vulnerable women and supporting them through regular training. The women apply for loans in small groups (Credit Interest Groups or CIGs) of around 4 individuals. Each woman sets up her own business but the whole group is responsible for applying for and repaying the loans. The recovered loans are then redeployed to other CIGs. This scheme has worked very well, helping many families out of extreme poverty and enabling them to keep their children in education (rather than child labour or early marriage). The women have been incredibly resourceful and many have been able to pay private school fees or invest their earnings in expanding their businesses. When I visit the field and meet the families I sense that this programme has injected a huge amount of energy and hope into the community.

In previous reports you can read the individual stories of many of our beneficiaries. Since the start of the pandemic everything changed. Not only were these women largely unable to continue their businesses (lockdown prevented anyone from going onto the streets) but also their husbands lost their incomes.  Tiljala SHED had to switch almost overnight to relief work. All loan repayments were put on hold. No new loans were disbursed – and Tiljala SHED’s staff turned their efforts to sourcing food and medical supplies and then distributing ration packs across large swathes of central Kolkata. We distributed food parcels to 6500 families in 2020 and a further 6500 in 2021.  It has been an enormous effort and all undertaken by a small group of staff and volunteers who were willing and able to take on this huge task. I am so proud of all of them.

And now that India has come through the worst of the current wave of COVID infection and the economy is up and running again, we have restarted the livelihood programme, conducting training sessions across all four communities. Loan repayments have started coming in again as our beneficiaries have revived their businesses and we are looking forward to kickstarting the programme fully in 2022.

Children welcome of course
Children welcome of course

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Livelihood Training Session
Livelihood Training Session

Arjina is 32 years old. She is a rag picker by profession and stays in one of the pavements near ESI Hospital. There are five members in the family (2 daughters + 1 son). All the members of the family stay near ESI hospital on the pavements under very extreme conditions.

Her elder daughter studies in Class IV and her younger daughter studies in Class II. Her son studies in Kindergarten. Arjina and her husband work together as a rag picker. They earn around Rs.150 to 200 per day. But this income is not enough for running the household expenses. Sometimes the family goes to bed without food. She took Rs.20,000 as a loan Dated on 05.05.18 from Tiljala SHED alternative livelihood program. She sells detergent powder and most of her income comes from rag picking. She repaid Rs.16,000 and the rest Rs.4,000 is due.

After the lockdown and covid pandemic situation her earning has drastically reduced to Rs.50 to 100 a day. They sleep in an open pavement. During the rainy season, the conditions become very difficult as they sleep under a tarpaulin. Local goons and police are a daily harassment for this family. The young girls do not have any security. The local political goons drink alcohol nearby their temporary makeshift structure and takes away water which is being stored for the family drinking purpose. Since they are basically on the footpath, diseases are more prevalent among them. Diarrhoea, Malaria, High Fever, Coughing are regular problems and found in almost all the homes. Previous 2020 lockdown to now June 2021 she cannot repay. Her situation is very bad. After the last year pandemic things started getting little better from this year February 2021 and she was in regular contact with our livelihood team and attended all the group meetings. But after the second wave of the Covid the state government announced lockdown from April 2021 and she again had to suffer the same situation like last year.

She is hopeful that she will revive her income once the lockdown is eased, and situation becomes normal. She is committed to transform her life through her hard work and dedication.

There are many beneficiries like Arjina who have been struggling because of the pandemic situation. The income has gone down to almost Nil and with little support from government and NGOs they are able to survive. As soon as the pandemic situation gets better she will revive her financial condition back to normal. Tiljala SHED has been assisting these families during the pandemic and we have organised Emergency Food Distribution for such families who have  suffered the most during the pandemic. 

Livelihood Training Meeting
Livelihood Training Meeting
Livelihood Training
Livelihood Training
Arjina Bibi with her family
Arjina Bibi with her family
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Business Development Training session Nov 2020
Business Development Training session Nov 2020

Livelihoods were the first casualty of India’s lockdown. The informal sector – street vendors, rickshaw drivers, domestic helpers, beggars, rag pickers, tailors and all those who work for a daily wage – were suddenly unable to work.  Most of the women on this project were among this group. Fledgling businesses failed and the loans taken out were used to feed hungry families or pay medical bills. Fortunately for these women the loans came from you, administered by a humanitarian NGO, Tiljala SHED. Repayments have been forgiven or delayed.

In the report below, you’ll see how the programme is picking up again and more loans are being administered. It is now more important than ever that our beneficiaries can set up or build their small businesses and become self-sufficient. We continue to insist that the children remain in education as a condition of joining the programme, so that the next generation is even more resilient.

A report from the field:

Livelihood Programme Report for The Month Of October to December 2020 

The livelihood had 16 trainings as per their quarterly plan (Oct to Dec 2020) but could do only 8 trainings during this period.  The planned activities got affected due to the huge fire disaster that took place on the 10th of November 2020 at Topsia, one of our target areas where we work with our beneficiaries. Many of our beneficiaries and other poor population residing along the canal side in squatters were severely affected as all their belongings burnt into ashes.  The people could only save their lives. Many of the Tiljala Shed staff including the Livelihood program staff were involved in relief work to these fire victims. As it is they were mostly hit by the Pandemic Covid 19 and super cyclone Amphan which had shaken them financially leaving them without any source of income. There were lot of distribution of the essential things done trying to bring them back to their normal lives.

 Altogether 8 trainings were done on CIG, core group members on the process of identifying new and old beneficiaries and loan approval process (standard operating procedure). 

 In these meetings there were discussions about repayment of loan and disbursement of new loan to old beneficiaries. Beneficiaries requested for more time to be given to them for repaying the loan amount as they are struggling for their daily bread. People have lost their job and many had loss in business which they were doing due to Covid 19.  The livelihood team has shown some leniency by allowing them to repay in small amount of the monthly installment as and when they are able to so that they can repay their debts.

 

 

A donation of £250 is enough to help a destitute woman set up a small business, to give her financial power and the ability to support her family.

 

Thank you

Beneficiary receives a loan cheque
Beneficiary receives a loan cheque
Training Schedule
Training Schedule
Loans and repayments
Loans and repayments
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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, West Bengal India
$44,786 raised of $80,000 goal
 
368 donations
$35,214 to go
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