I had the great privilege of getting to meet a number of the beneficiaries of this livelhood project when I was in Kolkata in August.
I want to tell you about two of them: Safikul and Nasima
I wasn't scheduled to meet Safikul, but as we were making our precarious way along the railway tracks (the main thoroughfare through the squatter camp), he bounded up to us. He wanted to show me his new cycle van. Safikul seems younger than his years: I was surprised to hear he is married with a son and a daughter. He is a carrier at the Sealdah Market. He explained that before you bought him his cycle van he had to hire one. So every day, regardless of how much business he got, he had to pay away Rs100 in hiring fees. Now that he has his own van, he clears a respectable Rs 300 - 400 per day. "I'm going to make a big business" he grinned. "You'll see the big chance in one year". I am looking forward to reporting back in a year's time!
Later I was taken to meet Nasima. She has a jewellery stall on the street close to the Park Circus squatter camp where I met Safikul (and where she lives). You gave her £150 to buy stock. Before this her stall had been tiny - just a few items (hair clips combs and cheap jewellery) and very little business. She was making Rs 50 (50 p) a day. Her husband is a day labourer earning £4 - £5 a week - and they have 2 daughters to support. I had to wait some time to meet Nasima because, as you can see from the photo, she was rather busy with customers. She said that she now makes a profit of £1.50 a day, has no debt and does not have to borrow from money lenders to stock her stall. She told me she is very happy indeed - and produced a lovely smile to show it.
I also got to spend time in the Tiljala SHED office and learn more about how this project is structured. The grants are conditional upon a number of criteria e.g. the beneficiaries must guarantee they'll keep their children in school; that they save money where possible and reinvest; and that they ultimately contribute back into a revolving fund so that others can benefit in future; they are required to attend meetings and programmes helping them with their business skills. Now they have bank accounts under a Governement of India scheme which allows the ultra-poor to open zero balance accounts. Slowly they are learning to make use of them and grow into a more sustainable future
So, by contributing to this project, you have lifted 87 families like these out of destitution. Their children are attending school and they are learning business skills and good saving habits.
Please consider a further donation to this livelihood project. There are dozens more needy yet motivated and energetic people who would put your donation to very good use. By promising to keep their children in school, Nasima and Safikul hope that they will be the last generation to live under tarpaulin and corrugated iron beside the railway.
Thank you very much
Soni, a widow, resides in a small hut beside the dirty canal in Topsia. She has to work day and night to meet the expenditure of the family through rag picking. But since the Kolkata Municipal Corporation installed huge compactors around the city, there is much less waste for this vulnerable and marginalised commuity to live off. These days Soni barely clears 100 - 150 rupees a day (less than £1.40). Once again food prices are rising in India, placing yet more pressure on society's poorest.
Soni's only son has recently started a small business. He has a sound box with mic which he rents out for special events in the community. In this way, he is able to help his mother. To grow the business, and make a decent living they need to buy a DJ Box with other electronic gadgets which will eventually increase the revenue. They applied for a bank loan but bank rejected their loan request as they are rag pickers and there is no guarantee of income. Depressed and frustrated they didn't know which way to turn.
In this challenging situation, Global Giving fund came as a sigh of relief for both of them. This fund will help them to grow the business. They got 12000 rupees (£110) with which they will purchase the DJ Box and other electronic gadgets. Now, they are happy. They can earn enough to keep themselves as well as to invest further in the business. Your donation through Global Giving was the game changer in their lives and they never imagined that resources from UK would open the doors for them when the banks in India have shut the doors for them.
Many families have now benefited from this project.
Total No. of families covered: 72
Total Amount Disbursed: INR 753184 (£8000 approx)
Type of business covered: Cycle rickshaw, cycle van, selling new clothes, cobbler shop, selling female accessories, sewing machine, DJ box with music system, selling fruits, tea stall, jhaal muri selling (popular junk food), vegetable (grocery shop) selling, satoo selling stall, imitation jewellery selling door to door, buying scrap-making and selling slippers, bangle shop, selling bangles door to door.
Please follow us on Facebook for more stories.
I met Salma and her family one wet evening towards the end of the monsoon in October 2015. They live on the street under a shelter made of tarpaulin and other scavenged materials. It is no more than 2.5 metres long and a metre wide. Salma's mother cooks on a stove on the tiny patch of floor beween the two raised platforms which serve as beds, a sitting area and storage. Salma is14, but she is tiny and her torso is covered by burns from a cooking accident, a common occurence. She is one of Tiljala SHED's sponsored girls which means that she is supported to attend school and will continue to be supported (as long as funding remains available) until she completes her education.
Salma and her family live under the constant threat of having their home swept away: the owners of the building against which their home rests want to develop their property and have warned Salma's family they'll have to move on in 6 months. Salma's father is a rickshaw driver and her mother sells fruit from a tray at the side of the road. Watch the video to hear them talk about their lives.
Tiljala SHED are very keen to help this family as they are particularly vulnerable. In order to give Salma and her siblings the best chance in life, the family needs help to make itself more financially secure.
So, thanks to your generosity, this week Salma's father took delivery of his own rickshaw. This means that he no longer has to rent a rickshaw every day in order to ply his trade. He can choose where and when to work and what kind of loads to carry. He can even choose to rent the rickshaw out when he is not using it. Next week Salma's mother will get a handcart which will enable her to sell more products and to take her stall greater distances and to improve her income. Soon they will be able to pay rent for a home which they can call their own and not live in fear of being thrown onto the street.
Many other families received help from you this week: Ujala's father also received a new rickshaw; Halima has a new sewing machine to help her support her family with her tailoring business; you have helped Arifa's family get back on their feet after her father's business collapsed when his health failed.
Your donations have brought hope to some of Kolkata's most marginalised and forgotten people.
2016 has got off to a great start! Thanks to our donors, we raised an amazing £6374.00 towards our £10,000 target in the Winter Gateway Crowdfunding Challenge. Indeed you were so generous that we actually came top of the leaderboard and secured a further bonus of £1500. Once Gift Aid is calculated and added to the total - we won't be far off our £10,000.
So an enormous thank you to everyone who contributed so generously!
We are looking forward to launching the project in February as soon as the funds arrive in India. Our project officers will be selecting the families most in need of help, counselling them and then helping to deliver life changing interventions.
Upala's mother has already dropped by to ask when her husband can expect a new rickshaw. He struggles to feed his family of seven from the meagre 150 rupees a day he earns. He hires a cycle rickshaw each day at a cost of 60 rupees (60 pence) but the rickshaw owner restricts him to passenger services only. He says that if he has his own rickshaw he can accept different loads and works for businesses which will help him earn more. And he won't have to pay the 60 rupees hire. We will also invite Upala's dad to attend a training session with the police: one of the major threats to rickshaw drivers is fines (as much as 2000 rupees or more) imposed by the police for traffic violations. Tiljala SHED is very experienced in building bridges between members of these vulnerable communities and the authorities.
Upala's mother used to have a small second hand clothing business, but lost it when one of the children fell sick and they had to pay medical bills. Tiljala SHED will also be helping her to build her business up again.
The result of this intervention is that Upala (who is just 12) and her brothers and sisters will stay in education and not be forced into labour to help feed the family.
We look forward to sharing the next part of Upala's story with you.
with many thanks from the whole team at Tiljala SHED
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser