Andrea writes from Triratna’s Karuna Trust with great news of their latest fundraising success - a major grant from the UK Government’s DFID. She says - “We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a £250,000 grant from the Department for International Development. This grant will enable 10,000 children living in rural Maharashtra, in central/western India to access education, and to escape child labour and poverty. In addition 800 young people will be able to undertake skills development training to boost their chances of gaining work, and 200 self-help group women leaders will be trained in financial and literacy skills.
The project, which is run by Karuna’s project partner the National Institute for Sustainable Development (NISD), will address the problems of poor school enrolment and high drop-out rates among the Dalit ‘bidi-rolling’ community in Sangamner in rural Maharashtra. The cheapest tobacco available in India is a rolled leaf, dried and tied with thread – called a bidi. A pack of 50 costs a few rupees – literally a matter of pennies. Bidis are considered to be a low-cost ‘treat’, but those engaged in bidi-rolling work are often from the poorest communities such as the Dalits in Sangamner. To find out more about Karuna’s work with bidi-rolling workers click here.
Within this community 65% of children attend primary school, with only 35% finishing, and many of them end up as child labourers or bidi-rollers. The situation for girls, who often find themselves confined as domestic labourers or forced into child marriage, is bleaker still. Only 45% of them enrol in primary education, with only 25% completion. The wider consequences of poor education and illiteracy are extreme poverty amongst the bidi-rolling community with 65% living on less than £1 a day.
Although the major focus of this project is to improve education, it will also focus on issues related to poverty, health and sanitation. Some of the activities will include:
Encouraging parents to enroll their children at school through activities such as street plays, home visits and rallies
Books and uniforms will be distributed to the poorest children
Training will be provided to 230 pre-school teachers on nutrition and child development
200 teachers from 30 government schools will be trained in using innovative educational material and child psychology.
Karuna has worked with NISD since 2003 helping displaced tribal communities and wage labouring families, all of which are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Would you like to raise funds to support Karuna’s work? Check our Appeals website www.appeals.karuna.org and book on one now! Karuna have built up a network of over 7,000 regular donors all across the UK using volunteer door-knocking appeal teams; the £1.5m they fundraise every year allows them to support this and many other initiatives - click to see an interactive map of Karuna projects and project partners in India.