Category: Projects

Rights & Entitlements Program

EMPOWERMENT– This is what sets Tiljala SHED apart from other NGOs.  Not hand-outs but enabling people and communities to transform themselves. Vocational Training, livelihood grants, empowering communities to take up their own cause, facilitating the liaisoning with government agencies for acquiring voter cards, birth certificate and other legal entitlements etc.
Tiljala SHED has facilitated the creation of Association of Rag Pickers of Calcutta (ARP) which is a registered legal entity and the only such association for the entire rag pickers community in West Bengal. It is important to note that it is the effort of Tiljala SHED and other NGOs working together in this sector that has push the government to include the Rag Pickers in the State Assisted Scheme of Provident fund for Unorganized workers (SASPFUW). Rag picking was included as a profession along with other professions in the list of unorganized work. Rag Picking was never recognized as a work by the government agencies. Tiljala SHED also works closely with other Pan India organization like Chintan, Nidaan, etc.  whose work are focused on the overall development of the rag pickers.
Tiljala SHED is now handholding the association members to run and execute their organization effectively which requires day-to-day facilitation and hand holding. ARP is a strong tool for these rag pickers and now the government also listens to them, solves their problems. Earlier 90% of the population did not had voter cards and now 70% have all the legal entitlements thus making them powerful with the power to vote. The government agencies and elected leaders never used to hear them and now they are being heard and supported by the elected representatives. Earlier their children were treated as untouchables in government schools, which was resulting in drop outs. It was due to Tiljala SHED’s & ARP’s joint intervention that the school authorities now take due care and treat them at par with other children.
Under this program Tiljala SHED works for all those rag pickers and other vulnerable communities who have been deprived of legal entitlements and documents and are not recognized by the local government. We have been instrumental in opening thousands of Bank Accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. Under this scheme many people opened their bank accounts which they could not open for years because of bureaucratic formalities.
Regular meetings with the Election Commission, Municipal Corporation, Ration department, Councillors, MLAs and MPs have instill confidence in them and their matters are now getting resolved faster. They have an annual rally where they march to Esplanade Y channel (famous for all political rallies) and hand the memorandum to the Secretariat and express their claims on a stage in front of the mainstream media. More than 5000 rag pickers participated in the rally in the last two years in 2016 & 2017. They have also claimed their demands to Ms.Mamata Banerjee (Hon’ble Chief Minister, West Bengal). The government has shown willingness to work for the development of rag pickers.
Tiljala SHED has a long way to go. The journey has just started and the Association has got its breakthrough with the government. Tiljala SHED is already in talks with the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation for involving rag pickers in solid waste management of the Salt Lake area. We are trying every bit to increase their income through government and other private interventions.
We have also collaborated with Corporates, bureaucrats, police, journalist and other respected people of the city from all walks of life and organize a yearly seminar where these people get to hear directly from the rag pickers- their pain, struggles and solutions.
We had also been a part of dine and dialogue where rag pickers and people from the influential society exchanged over a sumptuous dinner.
Razia one of the women from Topsia said that “I never got so much respect in my life”.
Another women Manowara Bibi who is the secretary of the Rag Pickers Association said “it is unbelievable that I am sharing a table with these respected people over dinner”.
Connecting Rag Pickers and other vulnerable families with the mainstream society is also of the goal of this program.

Solid Waste Management:

Members of the Association of Rag Pickers of Calcutta has been collecting solid waste from corporates, business houses, amusement parks, housing complexes, etc. for their sustainable income and scientific waste handling. Tiljala SHED monitors the collection. Cognizant, TATA Consultancy Services, Science City, Atmosphere and a few housing complexes have been a partner of Tiljala SHED for long in solid waste management. The entire program has been supported by Misereor (Germany).

Livelihood Program

The livelihood program started in 2015 with the online crowdfunding platform Global Giving Winter Gateway Challenge and Tiljala SHED came first. With an initial seed money, Tiljala SHED started rolling the loans to rag pickers. Initially it was very difficult to recover from the beneficiaries. Then we started forming group of women naming CIGs (Credit Interest Groups). We charge a very minimal small interest on loans and started giving away in a group of 5 women. Each women responsible for the loan of other women. Slowly and steadily the network expanded, the loans were getting to recovered from previously 40% to 95%. Few grants and support came in from some industrialist and we started rolling the loans faster in groups hoping to recover the full amount. We have now reached a recovery of 98% and still giving training on business development and hand holding. Some loans are paid late if there is some financial problems with the beneficiary, the entire group takes the responsibility and then it is paid off.

Tiljala SHED had previous worked extensively on micro-finance with Trickle Up Foundation, New York for 20 years. Tiljala Shed is using its expertise and experience to implement this program across the areas of operation and many beneficiaries have greatly benefitted by setting up businesses and they can now dream to become a successful entrepreneur. Some have already paid the loans much faster than anticipated and had taken again for the expansion of their business. Tiljala SHED has given them easy access to credit which is not possible from any banks which requires a lot of due diligence and securities. The staff salary is currently supported by Misereor (Germany).

Beauty Training & Empowerment Centre :

The Beauty Training and empowerment centre for girls opened its door in April 2017 with the support from Godrej. Proper infra-structure was built and a modern beauty parlour training centre was opened for providing the skills to the girls who could not complete their education. The objective of the program is to make them self-independent so that they respect in the family. We have a four months training module prepared by Godrej and we have advance training courses for the girls so that they can work in professional beauty parlours. We also have partnership with few beauty salons who can give them internship and later jobs. Many girls prefer to work as a freelance as they tend to earn more than working in a parlour in a fix timetable.

One of our girls Madhu Shaw who belongs to a very conservative Hindu family from Bihar is now earning between Rs.10,000 to 12,000 a month. She was a drop out from the school and was a member of the Gyan Azhar Library. Tiljala SHED staff motivated her to join the course. After much hesitation and fighting with her family, she joined and was the topper of the batch with 95% marks. She is now earning and contributing to the family. Her father sells Sattu on a roadside cart and now she earns much more than her father and she has now equal respect like her brother in the family.

Currently the beauty training centre is partially supported by Concentrix which is an IT company. Currently the seventh and Eighth batch are going on. We have completed 6 batches in total. The classes are held from Monday to Friday in two shifts.

Health & Nutrition Program

Langar (mass food distribution)
We have recently started a mass food program for residents of Topsia Canal Side under which around 450 people of all ages are served a hot lunch every Saturday. Many families in this area, large in size and with little income, are severely deprived and on the edge of survival. The lunch means a lot for them as it is wholesome and helps them save the cost of at least four meals in a month. This program was initiated by Mudar Patherya, a writer and entrepreneur, and is now also being supported by Saurav Dugar from the PS Group and Industrialist, Rahul Kyal from the Vinayak Group and Jane Manson, our international fund raising director, and her friends.

Trial Food Program
We organize community distribution of food (Iftar) during the month of Ramadan when people break their fast at dusk and on the festival of Eid which marks the end of Ramadan. This helps poor people to both take some nutritious food and meet socially. Currently, we have covered 10,000 families in this program which has been supported by Human Relief Foundation, UK since 2013. They have helped set up three water hand pumps in the Mouli Mukundo village (Bhangur) which have benefitted more than 1,000 families living in the three areas.