Warm blankets for 500 destitute widows in India

by Maitri India
Nupur-maa snug in her new blanket!
Nupur-maa snug in her new blanket!

Nupur, lovingly referred to as "Nupur-maa (mother)" by the Maitri India staff, is one the oldest widowed women in our care in Vrindavan. She is also one of the very few who have received a  good education- she used to be an English lecturer at Dhaka University in erstwhile East Bengal (now Bangladesh). However, Nupur-maa does not like to talk about her past beyond this...

For this extremely frail lady in her eighties, Maitri India's shelter is her home and our staff her family. Nupur-maa enjoys snacking on glucose biscuits and drinking malted hot milk drinks. With age, she seems to be losing her appetite and now prefers to eat only bread and butter, along with fruits. Nupur-maa also suffers from asthma. The winter was particularly challenging for her as she had difficulty breathing and had to use an inhaler continuously. Fortunately, her asthma is under control now.

Thanks to your donation, Maitri India was able to provide Nupur-maa and other elderly and destitute widowed women with warm blankets during the winter!

On their behalf, we thank you for your generous support and encouragement throughout the project. Thank you for donating and spreading the word about our cause - through our joint efforts, we have met (and exceeded) our goal of raising $10,000 for blankets and warm clothing for about 500 such women. Please note that all our excess funding is used for our other program initiatives for these widowed women, including the provision of daily nutritious midday meals, fruits, health supplements, clothing, footwear and healthcare. If you ever happen to visit India, we hope that you can visit our project and interact directly with these elderly women who have been abandoned by their own families. We will re-activate this project again towards the latter half of the year, when winter starts to approach and look forward to your continued support!

We are also very excited to share that Maitri India has purchased a plot of land in Vrindavan, where we plan to build an Old Age Home/Ageing Resource Center that will accommodate 100 elderly women. Please be on the look-out for our upcoming project on GlobalGiving to help raise funds for this!

Thank you so much for all your support! 

Nupur-maa enjoys knitting
Nupur-maa enjoys knitting
Our interns Annie and Shantel in Vrindavan
Our interns Annie and Shantel in Vrindavan
Namita Devnath, Age: 77
Namita Devnath, Age: 77

Namita is a 77 year old widowed woman who lives in a shelter managed by Maitri India. Her story is not unlike those of other elderly, abandoned widows who come to Vrindavan to spend the latter half of their lives...

I was married when I was 15 years old. My husband, who was 13 years older than me, was a kind man and owned a small grocery shop.  He earned enough to support our family and we had three daughters.  We worked hard and were able to send our children to government-run schools and arrange their marriages when they became older.

With age, my husband's health deteriorated, and I started taking over the care of our shop.  However, most of the money that we earned went towards medications for my husband. Finding it difficult to make ends meet, we eventually had to sell the shop.  My husband passed away eighteen years ago...

I was able to stay in my own home for three years after his death.  After a while, I went to live with my youngest daughter.  However, her in-laws were not happy with this situation and made it difficult for me to continue living there. Not wanting to burden my daughter, I returned to my own home where my daughters visited me frequently.  After a few months, my youngest daughter came to live with me and I eventually signed over the deed of my home to her.  Almost immediately after, my daughter became abusive, started denying me food and insisted that I leave home.  My other daughters were unable to help me and were upset that I had given the home to my youngest daughter. 

With no one to look after me or care about my well-being, I came to Vrindavan, where I found the shelter managed by Maitri India. I have been here for almost two years. Here, I get freshly-cooked midday meals everyday, and my essential needs for clothing, shelter, warmth and healthcare are taken care of. I am grateful for the support I receive through Maitri India.

The Maitri India team would like to thank YOU, our generous GlobalGiving donors, who make it possible for us to reach out to and take care of women like Namita. 


As the bitter cold winter set in Northern India this year, Maitri India purchased warm woolen blankets and shawls for the destitute widows in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh. This was made possible because of our generous donors who not only donated to our project on GlobalGiving, but also supported us by spreading the word about it. The months of January and February are particularly cold in Vrindavan, which made our project a timely one. We excitedly watched as our project grew from its first donation, to becoming a permanent partner with GlobalGiving – it is really encouraging to know that so many people around the world support our project and believe in our cause. 

Our primary goal was for the widowed women to use the blankets to stay warm during the cold season, so we ordered 400 custom-made woolen blankets with Maitri India’s logo sewn on so that the widows would not sell these blankets. We also bought 500 warm shawls that we distributed to the widows.

Most of the widows we work with have little or no source of income besides singing hymns at local temples. With little or no family support, many widows live a solitary existence in Vrindavan, where they rely on donations and resort to begging to survive. Many of them struggle to make ends to meet in order pay rent to live in hovels where there is no electricity or water. Needless to say, buying a blanket or warm clothing to keep herself warm is probably not even an option for an elderly widow begging on the streets of Vrindavan. With this in mind, the Maitri team distributed the shawls and blankets in two trips to Vrindavan.

It is quite something to see the smiles lighting up the widows’ care-worn faces as they received their own blankets and shawls, knowing that somebody cares about them. We hope that our GlobalGiving donors can visit our project if they ever visit India.


Jamuna Dassi
Jamuna Dassi
I was married at the young age of seven. Needless to say, I did not even understand the meaning marriage at such a young age. However, my parents were poor and wanted me to be settled in marriage early.  My husband was 15 years older than myself and he died only a few years after we were married.  We did not have any children, so I returned to live with my mother for 13 more years.  Then I moved to Radha Kund (Vrindavan) to be among other widows.  I cleaned homes and begged for money for forty years. 
It was a very difficult lifestyle, so when I heard about Maitri India, I approached them for support and today I am in their care.  Maitri has provided a safe haven and a place where I can regain my dignity and respect.  I am so grateful to be here and I appreciate the work that Maitri does so that I do not have to spend my last years as a beggar.



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Organization Information

Maitri India

Location: New Delhi, Delhi - India
Website: http:/​/​www.maitriindia.org
Project Leader:
Maitri India
New Delhi, Delhi India

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