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

Project Report | Mar 28, 2017
Make your donation work for you again and again and again...

By Jane Manson | Fundraising Director

Morjina Bibi.  You have changed her life!
Morjina Bibi. You have changed her life!

Meet Morjina Bibi.  
She is a beneficiary of Tiljala SHED’s Livelihood Programme.  Thanks to your donation she was able to take a small loan of Rs10,000 in May 2016.  She set up a business selling vegetables.  The family income increased from Rs3500 (£44) per month before the loan to Rs12000  (£150) per month now.  She has also repaid the full amount into a revolving fund so that the money can be used to help another family.   

Morjina Bibi lives in the Topsia Canalside squatter camp, one of Kolkata’s “rag picker” communities.  They are mostly Muslim and are migrants from other parts of West Bengal and northern India.  They are generally Urdu speakers, illiterate and many lack identity documents and are therefore barred from accessing their rights and entitlements. Most of the families here depend on rag picking for a livelihood, supplemented by exploitative piecework like chappal trimming.  

710 families, averaging 6 individuals per family, live by the Topsia canal, a polluted waterway which has contaminated the ground and water in the area with heavy metals and other toxins.  There are just two drinking water taps, one at either end of the community, and these flow just twice a day, so residents need to queue to collect drinking and cooking water.  Open defecation is the norm here as the few toilets that exist cannot be kept clean through a lack of running water. Residents avoid them.

Morjina lives in a single room with her family of six. Her husband is not always at home as he has another family so Morjina is currently the only earning family member.

Under Tiljala SHED’s livelihood programme Morjina applied for and was granted Rs10,000 in May 2016 to set up a vegetable selling business.   Every day she buys vegetables from around 3000 up to 6000 INR. She pushes a mobile shop and goes to different areas to sell the vegetables and makes around Rs400 to 500 a day.  Despite the difficulties caused by demonetisation her small business has thrived.  She has repaid the loan in full and has lifted the family income from just Rs3500 per month to Rs12000.  She also reports that she has already saved Rs40000 in her bank account. She can afford good food and a good education for her children. Morjina Bibi says “I want to give my children a good future.”

Because this programme has been so very successful and there is now great demand from other families, we are coming back to our generous donors and asking you to consider a further donation. Or even making a regular commitment.  Every £100 donated will help many families as it will be granted to one family, repaid and then "recycled" to help another family.  We know it works - 97% of beneficiaries are repaying their loan on time or have already repaid.  


Meet Noorjahan

For every fortunate Morjina there are hundreds like Noorjahan. I met her last month in Kolkata.  I crossed the road to find out what she was collecting in her huge sack (horrible old used shoes)  and to my amazement she addressed me in English. Her aunty, she told me, had worked for some years in Ireland and had taught her English. Noorjahan is a rag picker and a pavement dweller, the most vulnerable of all Kolkata’s poor. She lives with her three children, 2 daughters and a son, and a husband who is unable to work because of an addiction to chullu (cheap country liquor) a very common affliction here. She is proud that her children are in school and she is keeping the family together on Rs100 – 150 per day (less than £2).

Noorjahan means “Light of the World”.

Noorjahan is next in line for a grant from this programme and you can help her and others like her by making a small donation. With a grant, she can set herself up in a business selling vegetables or garments, a far better prospect than rag picking. She’ll open a bank account and have the chance to save and/or borrow.  She and her children will be able to eat properly, her children will come to our after school children’s club where they are safe and supported in their health and education. Her husband may even be able to lift himself out of his cycle of despair, give up the chullu and help her out. 


About the Livelihood Programme

Since the introduction of waste compactors by the municipality, rag pickers have found their incomes have dropped by half.  In response to this crisis Tiljala SHED  raised funds through Global Giving  and ran a pilot livelihood programme through 2016.  87 small conditional grants were made to destitute families. The loans averaged Rs10,000.  Some beneficiaries received rickshaws or cycle vans and others, like Morjina, set up or invested in informal retail businesses.  The grants are conditional upon repayment into a revolving savings group fund and undertakings by the families to keep their children in education. The beneficiaries in each area have formed CIGs (credit interest groups) which are now responsible for ensuring prompt repayment and also authorising new grants.  The scheme has been very successful with 97% of beneficiaries repaying promptly into the revolving fund.  75% of the beneficiaries have been women and they report not only economic improvements but also reduction in domestic violence. 


“I have power and respect now” said Doulari from Park Circus. 

Noorjahan. Waiting for your help.
Noorjahan. Waiting for your help.
Topsia Canalside squatters, where Morjina lives
Topsia Canalside squatters, where Morjina lives
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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata, West Bengal - India
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Tiljala_NGO
Project Leader:
Jane Manson
Kolkata , West Bengal India
$46,827 raised of $80,000 goal
401 donations
$33,173 to go
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