It’s more than a sewing machine.
It may seem simple but, without it, Lailie’s life would be very different.
Married and pregnant as a teenager, Lailie’s life, like many other Dalit muslims living in the slums of India, was confined to the home. She didn’t have an education and she wasn’t allowed to interact with other women outside of her husband’s family, let alone join a women’s group.
It took a long time, with help from Lailie’s mother-in-law, to persuade Lailie’s husband that it would be of benefit for the whole family for Lailie to learn the tailoring skills that were on offer through a Karuna project. They could improve their income and she could even do this work at home.
However, this course provided more than the ability to improve their household income - which it certainly has achieved. For Lailie, the sewing machine is more than a means to mend clothes for extra money. For the first time, she has friends and a network who can support one another and challenge domestic abuse. Most importantly, she has a greater sense of self worth - she has access to her own money, providing some economic independence. Her husband has also learnt that she has dreams and value beyond only what she can provide for him and no longer keeps tight control over her movements.
This sewing machine reminds her that she is entitled to have a say and choice in her life, as well as her children's. With the extra money that she earns from bespoke items and making repairs, she is able to put her children through school.
It’s more than a seed.
Tetri and Vinod, like many Dalit families, work for wealthier landowners in return for a small crop share to feed their family — an arrangement forged generations ago due to a historic ‘debt’ that has prevented them from ever having an income. As Musahar (meaning ‘rat eaters’), they have had no opportunity to gain an education. Without the basic skills of literacy and numeracy they have had no way to challenge the debt they are bonded to.
By providing skills and finance training, access to land and by creating farmer cooperatives, these communities can escape the cycle of exploitation that they have suffered for generations. With support, Tetri and Vinod now have access to land that they can cultivate, growing nutritional food for their family and providing an income but more than that, they now see themselves as entrepreneurs, not resources to exploit.
It’s more than a donation.
At Karuna, we believe that dignified livelihoods are not just a human right, but necessary to free people from the degrading caste ‘duties’ and attitudes that keep people locked in a cycle of persecution and poverty. We work with partners across India and Nepal, whether it’s communities in city slums or daily wage labourers in rural villages, to allow people to find their own independence and break out of those generations-old cycles.
How much do we need to raise?
We want to raise £35,000. This amount will be match funded, giving us the required £70,000 to support 4,500 women to come together and access tools, learn new skills, build businesses and strengthen community resilience to create meaningful, sustainable and happy livelihoods free from discrimination and exploitation.
How do I get involved?
We really need your help to stop the exploitation and support people to have a say in their lives.
If you can help, please use the options below and give more than a donation this Christmas. Thank you.
Thank you for your support and Merry Christmas!