Project #1866

Help 10 000 kids escape poverty and child labour

by Karuna Trust
Amreen using machine
Amreen using machine

Amreen is 17 years old, and lives in the village of Kuran, with her mother, father, and 2 brothers in a small house made of mud with a tin roof. Her father, and both of her brothers are wage labourers. Her mother rolls bidi cigars. All of this work together generated a total of 3,000rs a month, which was not enough for basics for the family, such as food and clothes.

A very driven and bright girl, she completed her 9th standard of school despite the background of rural poverty that she comes from. Unfortunately, her family poverty prevented her from completing school before she could finish, as she had to stay at home to help her mother with the housework, and making bidis (Indian cigars) for extra income.

Amreen was determined to become skilled at something, so she could "stand on her own 2 feet" as well as contribute financially to the family. She began attending the 'youth employment training' offered by NISD in her village, learning how to sew, in February of this year. She knew that if she learned to do this, she would be able to earn money due to the strong demand for such a service. After beginning this training, she also began to take an interest in NISD's other activities, which greatly helped to improve her confidence.

Towards the end of her time training, her parents decided to help in buying a sewing machine. Doing work for neighbours, friends, and other villagers, she has been able to make an additional 2,000rs a month for the family. This will increase over time. 

Amreen says "Now I can help my family from the money I earn. This was not possible before. Now I am proud that I can contribute to the family."

With such skills, and generating income through her work, Amreen will also be breaking ideas about the worth and abilities of girls. This will bode well, not only for Amreen's own future, but for all the girls and families who come into contact with her, who will be forced to confront their own assumptions.

Thank you all for funding this life changing work.

Those supporters who give regularly but are not 'regular donors' on Global giving, may be interested to know that any recurring donations initiated before the 30th of August will be matched completely by GlobalGiving (provided they continue for 4 months). If any supporter has considered becoming a 'regular donor', now is the chance for your donation to be worth double. Please do consider it.

Very best wishes,

Keval Shah.

Kajal and her family
Kajal and her family

Kajal’s situation is a common one among so many of the children in these villages. Her parents and 6 siblings barely survive financially. They make money by collecting and selling branches of the neem tree, which people use to clean their teeth. They have a total monthly income of 2,000 rupees (about £22) and live in a hut which they have constructed themselves.

Kajal desperately wanted to go to school. She saw clearly that following in the footsteps of her parents meant to remain trapped in a life of poverty. However, school enrolment fees of 510 rupees, in addition to the cost of study materials, meant that school was not an option for her. Instead, she spent her time collecting neem tree branches with the rest of her family.  

Last month, during a rally that was taking place in her village, she met some of the project staff. She explained her wish to attend school, but that her family’s poverty meant she could not. After speaking to Kajal’s family, and hearing about the situation from them, the project staff began work. First, they negotiated with the Headmaster of the local school to allow Kajal to attend, in spite of her inability to pay fees. They then arranged educational material and a uniform for Kajal, so that she was equipped to pursue her dreams of studying.

The project staff are in regular contact with the family. There is little change in their living circumstances, but for over a month now Kajal has been happily attending school. She is already talking about completing her education and helping to improve her family’s financial situation.

Kajal is one of many thousands of children which this project is helping. Thank you for supporting this life-changing work. 

Teacher Training
Teacher Training

Dear Donors,

I hope this update finds you all well.

We recently completed the first year of the new, expanded version of this project. I am really happy to have the opportunity to share some of the key achievements with you.

Progress towards overall aim of project.

The project aims to help 10,000 Dalit children to escape the prospect of child labour by getting an education. Our project partner NISD’s great strength has always been successfully and creatively engaging all stakeholder groups, so that entire communities are involved in these new educational initiatives. This was the first year of an expanded project, and NISD have been able to replicate their previous success in these new villages.

Village Education Committees and Parent-Teacher Associations came into being and worked with local leaders to rally around a school enrolment drive and support the project generally. As a result, over 800 children have entered education, and thousands have been supported in remaining in school (see figures below) in a number of different ways.

The new sanitation element of the project suffered a setback, with only 321 toilets constructed due to the effects of drought. The toilets have had a significant impact on the practice of open defecation however, and many more will be constructed next year.

Women’s self-help groups meant that women could access loans, with almost 100 already generating their own income as a result. Vocational training meant that young people who had either finished school, or dropped out too early, had better prospects than following their parents into employment.

All of these activities serve to create communities which no longer depend on the noxious work of the tobacco industry, and are aware of the importance of education. This means there is more hope for the children of these villages than there ever has been to escape the grinding poverty they are in. Thank you for funding this life changing work. 

Major Achievements

  • 1,157 of the poorest children received free educational materials, encouraging them to attend school more regularly.
  • 2,257 children received supplementary nutrition.
  • 408 pre-school teachers received training on child care, nutrition, and ‘joyful education’, providing them with the skills to better care for and support young children.
  • 230 government school teachers received training, which improved learning and helped increase school attendance.
  • 1,372 people from the villages, organised into Village Education Committees, and Parent-Teacher Associations, as well as local leaders, came together and contributed to the school enrolment drive.
  • 896 children entered mainstream education.
  • 657 children benefited from study support classes which raised their confidence and interest in attending school.
  • 842 care givers were trained in ‘positive child care practices’, positively affecting the psychological and physical health of the children they care for.
  • 1,235 women organised themselves into 78 Self-Help Groups, with 254 of them accessing and using loans, and 98 of them generating income through their small business start-ups.
  • 204 young people have received vocational training with 133 of them accessing employment.
  • 21 schools have benefitted from infrastructural improvements thus creating a better learning environment and improving attendance.
  • An awareness raising campaign resulted in 312 toilets being constructed. 3,843 families have now stopped defecating openly and are using the toilets.
  • Overall, of the 5,715 schoolchildren currently where the project operates, 3,428 children’s attendance has increased to over 80%, while only 288 have an attendance of less than 40%.

We are now into the second year of activities, and I will soon be updating you as before, with stories from the ground.

The difference that is being made to these children's lives, and the communities they are in, could scarcely be more profound. 

 Thank you, as always for continuing to give your hard earned money to this life changing work. 

Women's Self-Help Group Meeting
Vocational Skills - Tailoring
Vocational Skills - Tailoring
Vocational Skills - Electrician Training
Vocational Skills - Electrician Training

Dear Donors,

As I wrote last time, the expanded activities of the project this year have included sanitation awareness, and assisting in the construction of toilets. Curbing the practice of open defaction imporves both the health and the environment of the children, as well as others in the village. This month I would like to share with you the story of Sunderbai, who has been helped to construct a toilet by the project, and who's family are enjoying the benefits.

Sunderbai is a 52 year old, single, mother-of-two. She works in the bidi (cigar) rolling houses, and lives in Sukewadi village. Her eldest son is married and has a 2 year old child of his own. Her second son is in school. The money that Sunderbai obtains from her difficult, carcinogenic work is not enough to provide for the household.

Like many families in the village, Sunderbai's family previously had to defecate openly, not having access to toilet facilities. They used to have to walk long distances to defecate, so that they would not be seen. Nevertheless they would recieve a lot of abuse for engaging in this practice when they had little alternative. Things became worse when Sunderbai's daughter-in-law came to live with them. Because they could only go late night or early morning, much of the family experienced stomach problems, and Sunderbai herself lost a lot of money by having to take time off work and also pay medical bills.

When the project workers came to hear of her situation, she was a clear candidate for toliet construction support. A toilet was constructed, and Sunderbai and her family were shown how to use and look after it.

Now the whole family are very happy to have their own toilet which they can make use of at any time. The daughter in law feels much more comfortable in her new home, and relations with wealthier neighbours are now free from abuse and insults. The members of the family are now all able to reach their places of work and education on time, and can focus on their respective tasks. They have also learned a great deal about basic hygeine and sanitation through this intervention, and expenditure on health treatment has reduced so much that Sunderbai has even been able to save a little money (!)

These basic things which we take for granted mean so much in the daily lives of people who don't have them.

Thank you so much for supporting families such as Sunderbai's in this way.   

Beneficiaries in front of toilet
Beneficiaries in front of toilet

Dear Donors,

Globalgiving are running a matching campaign on Wednesday 13th March. I have included some information at the end of the update. I hope it is of interest to some of you.

One of the main focusses of this integrated child rights project is health, and specifically sanitation. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why sanitation awareness and toilet construction, are so important.

In the villages where these projects operate, there is almost no knowledge of basic hygeiene and sanitation amongst the people. Food is left uncovered where it can be infected, people do not use soap, and open defacation is rampant. One can imagine effect on the health and standard of living of all in the village, including the children.

The first school I visited on my trip, the children and teachers showed me, from the window, the area where most people from the village would openly deficate every morning. By the time the children came into class, the stench would be coming through the windows of all the main classrooms.

With so few toilet facilities, this was a common practice for most households in the village. The health risks from such a practice are twofold: Firstly there are the obvious dangers of disease from the exposed excretia; however, people also suffer illnesses regularly as a consequence of not being able to go to the toilet when they need to.

As one woman explained to me, "we have to go either early in the morning or late at night, so that people don't see us. I had to go to the doctor recently. It costs a lot to go to the doctor, and we have to travel very far. And when we women go, someone [another woman] has to come with us. He told me the problem was due to my not going to the toilet when I needed to." This story was not uncommon for the people, and especially the women, of many of the villages. 

In addition, not using soap, and poor hygeine around food preparation and storage, mean illness was common in the village.

Through the projects activties, campaigning, awareness raising and education, sanitation is improving. Across 50 villages, 2,350 families are being encouraged and assisted in constructing toilets, which is very significant. The woman to whom I spoke has recently built a toilet (pictured below). The children are learning about the importance of such things from an early age, and in many cases are imparting this knowledge to their parents in the home.

Healthier, cleaner, home and school environments make a big difference to the lives of these children, and their ability to study. This can be seen in that first classroom, where there is no more stench from the road. They can now study happily and safely, and sing songs they have learnt about the importance of not spitting, not defacating openly, washing their hands before they eat.

Thank you for helping to empower a community to create a healthy environment for their children. 

If you are able to donate again, on Wednesday 13th March, Globalgiving USA is matching all donations with a 30% contribution, up to $1,000 per donor. This is a unique opportunity to make your contribution to these activities count for even more than usual. Please do consider donating on this day, or letting people who might be interested know. The matching will begin at 9am ET. 

With gratitude and best wishes,

Keval Shah.

Sanitation poster
Sanitation poster

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Organization Information

Karuna Trust

Location: London, England - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Kevin Croke
London, UK United Kingdom
$73,571 raised of $80,000 goal
1,428 donations
$6,429 to go
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