Project #1866

Help 10 000 kids escape poverty and child labour

by Karuna Trust

Sahil is three years old. He lives with his parents, grandparents and uncle in the village of Kare in Maharashtra, India. He is cared for by his grandmother as his parents go out to work during the day.

When Shail first came to the attention of the project team he was severely malnourished. He was underweight and had stunted growth. Following careful examination by the project doctor and referral to a specialist it was found that he had a heart defect.

To treat Sahil’s malnourishment and bring him to normal weight and height he was given supplementary nutrition and vitamins. He was given spirulina candies for two years continuously and targeted nutrition rich food such as ground nuts and jaggery. His grandmother completed the project’s caregiver programme where she learnt about nutritious cooking and good childcare practise.

Now Sahil comes to the project crèche regularly to play with other children, something that he could not do before. His mother comments on all the changes in him and is very grateful to the project team for their help. None of this would have been possible without the help of the projects supporters.

The project team look to tackle all causes of school drop out of students in the project area. One of the major causes of student drop out is illness and disease. A contributing factor to this is defecation in open fields where families do not have toilet facilities in the home. The project team runs awareness campaigns on good hygiene and sanitation practices and the dangers of open defecation. As part of this the project has helped build 2350 toilets in the project area.      

Keru, 60, lives with his wife, daughter and son in the village of Nimon in Maharashtra, India. He earns about 80p per day through running small errands.

Like many in the region Keru and his family did not have a toilet in their house. Keru’s disability meant that he had to travel long distances to use a suitable toilet. This resulted in him experiencing acute pain.

Through the project’s sanitation campaign Keru was made aware of the importance of proper toilet facilities within the home. The family had little money though, and could not afford the cost of building a toilet. Keru discussed this with a project worker who had come to the village to discuss how the project could support villagers build toilets. The project agreed to supply Keru the materials needed to build. Keru and his son built the toilet and now the family has a toilet in their home.

Now the family does not have to defecate in open fields leading to better health outcomes for them and their neighbours. Keru does not need to travel far distances to use the toilet and as a result no longer suffers from acute pain. Keru speaks with his neighbours about the importance of toilet facilities in the home and others are now starting to follow his lead and build for themselves.

Dattatray, 24, comes from the village of Kakadwadi. He is from a very poor family. Dattatray was able to fund his university studies by doing night shift work in a hospital. After completing a Bachelor of the Arts he looked hard for local employment opportunities to support his parents and younger brother. However given the poor employment outlook in the region he was unable to find work. Dattatray described himself as being completely frustrated and depressed.

In September 2014 a worker from the Karuna project was visiting Dattatray’s village to lead a workshop on employment opportunities for young people in the village. Dattatray and other young people at the meeting shared their hopes for the future and their frustrations that much of the skills training courses required by employers were unaffordable. The project worker took the details of those attending and the skills they were interested in developing.

In November of 2014, with encouragement from the project team, Dattatray enrolled in the Digital Photography course. Making the 22km trip each day for three months he applied himself and started to develop his skills as a photographer. He learnt natural photography, passport photos, family and functional photos and event photography.

Following the completion of the course Dattatray searched for a loan to purchase his own camera. After many refusals his uncle loaned Dattatray the money. Using this he bought a second hand camera, a table, chair and rented a small room to start his photography studio. Soon he was earning enough income to live independently.  

Now Dattatray is a confident young man. He has plans for the future to expand his business after he has paid his uncle back fully. He is now supporting his parents and helping to put his younger brother through education. Dattatray is very grateful for the opportunity to start out in his career. None of this would have been possible without the help of the project’s supporters.

Here are the results of the team's report on the project's educational work in the 2013 -14 period.

Progress Towards Outcomes 

  • Supplementary nutrition was provided to 3,416 children (1,723 boys, 1,693 girls). Medicine was provided to 108 children (79 boys, 101 girls) due to this 1087 children (408 boys, 679 girls) improved their weight and health.
  • 712 children (362 boys, 350 girls) have benefitted from the care giver programme. 683 care givers were encouraged and motivated to follow better child care practices, hygienic habits, feeding, immunization, growth monitoring, entertainment and other aspects of child development.  This led to proper care of the children and their growth and it is found that 579 care givers adopted positive child care practices as a result.
  • A number of programmes were organised in the villages to raise awareness on hygiene and sanitation. 7,089 men and 6,608 women were reached through this means.
  • During this year 919 toilets were constructed with the support of the team. Apart from this 888 families constructed their own toilets due to awareness raised.


  • Construction of toilets was a challenge due to the high contribution cost of £70 - £80 expected of the beneficiary group. People particularly from the most deprived communities found it extremely difficult to make the financial contributions. As a result of the involvement of government authorities and provision of loans by the self-help groups the team supported 2,350 families to undertake the work.

Lessons Learned

  • Project beneficiaries were employed in other aspects of the project wherever possible. The project has asked the women who were on the tailoring course to make uniforms for the less well-off students. Similarly the youth who completed the masonry training were employed to undertake the toilet construction work under this project. This improves overall sustainability for the project.

The project has recently undergone a review of the work undertaken in the last six months. Six month reviews allow Karuna to determine how effectively we are using funding given by our supporters to improve the lives of people in India.The review establishes if the team are set to achieve the targets we promised you our supporters to deliver.

Here are the results of the team's report on the project's educational work.  

Increased Enrolment of School Age Children.

  • Using awareness raising methods such as postering, meetings, rallies, theatre and exhibitions 8550 people in the project area were informed of the importance of child education.
  • 777 letters were sent to families whose child is of school going age on their child’s admission to school.
  • A new First Day Programme was organised in schools where children were welcomed with drawing books, coloring pencils, chocolates and caps. 855 children (426 boys, 429 girls) took part.

Higher completion rates at primary level.

  • Education resources like notebooks, campus boxes, uniforms and school bags were given to 2,534 poor children (1,362 boys and 1,172 girls).
  • The team printed and distributed 11,622 special notebooks on which posters related to educational messages were printed.  This helped create greater awareness among the local community on education, child rights and hygienic habits.
  • This year the project organised 3 training sessions on modern creative teaching methods in which 399 school teachers took part (237 male and 162 female).
  • 548 pre-school teachers were trained in child care and child development issues which enabled them to look after children in a better way.
  • The team organised reading improvement classes in 36 schools attended by 644 children (327 boys and 317 girls) who were falling behind.
  • 3,668 children made use of the team’s mobile library (1,916 boys, 1,752 girls). Encouraged with the positive results, 10 schools developed their own school libraries.


  • Staff turnover was a problem that was reduced to some extent by increasing salaries and incentives.
  • School management committee members were less willing to attend training organised at the district level.  Therefore small training programmes were organised at the village level. This helped considerably in increasing attendance and involvement. The focus also shifted from classroom training to educational tours of the best performing schools. This strategy was seen to have an immediate positive impact on the motivation and engagement of the stakeholders.

Lessons Learned

  • Rather than purchasing pre made notebooks, this year the team printed all notebooks for poor school children in the local market with the cover of each notebook featuring child rights, gender, hygiene and sanitation messages. 
  • The approach of exposure and educational tours of teachers and school managment committees to exemplary projects such as the best schools or best self-help group has worked better than classroom training in replicating best practice in schools. 

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Organization Information

Karuna Trust

Location: London, England - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Kevin Croke
London, UK United Kingdom
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