Tiljala SHED

Focus: Children and Youth, Education, Girl Child, Health, Livelihoods

WASTE-PICKERS’ lives should not be rubbished - say Tiljala SHED, who for the last 30 years have been striving to bring dignity and hope to these squatter communities living in various parts of Kolkata.

But it’s not an easy task. Urban India generates thousands of tonnes of garbage daily, with little being recycled – except by this informal labour force, shunned and ignored by all of us.

For now, cities need their rag-pickers as much as they – without alternative means of livelihood – need our trash to survive. They also need recognition for their contribution to saving the planet.

Tiljala Society for Human and Educational Development (TSHED) work around this reality.

So instead of stopping them going about collecting recyclable rubbish, they provide them with gloves, uniforms and badges – not only to guard against contact with hazardous waste but also to instil a sense of pride and self respect.

Besides, TSHED have liaised with various corporates in the city to not dispose of their solid waste, but allow the rag-pickers to take it away and supplement their income.

Of course, education is big on their agenda, with founder Mohammed Alamgir having been one of the few literates in the area of Darapara – Kolkata’s largest basti – and later a teacher at a government school.

They have made sure that almost 90 per cent of the children that live in the shanty along the Park Circus railway tracks attend local government schools.

The benefit is two-fold – the midday meal at school, and later tiffin at TSHED’s afterschool centre ensure the children of this desperately poor community don’t go hungry.

TSHED put special emphasis on educating girls because, as Alamgir says: “A literate mother will never leave her kids uneducated.”

To that end they established a sponsorship programme for destitute girls thanks to help from their benefactors, and have recently provided a library cum internet centre for them.

Salma Khatoon, who was a beneficiary for 15 years, is a testament to TSHED’s commitment to uplifting the lives of waste-picker families. She is now working in the organisation as Co-ordinator for the programme and liaises with international agencies. Salma, 34, says: “It’s very exciting!”

Kolkata is home to 80,000 rag pickers. TSHED need your support to change their lives - no contribution will go to waste.

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Waste Pickers' Rehabilitation

THE collection of solid waste from corporates, shopping malls and housing complexes helps to not only enhance a rag picker’s income but also his self-worth as a valuable member of society. This project includes establishing of the Association of Rag Pickers of Calcutta to campaign for rights and crucial intervention in their nutrition and health patterns. Malnourishment, especially among women and children, is common so TSHED provide nutrition supplements costing Rs 500 monthly per child.

Gyan Azhar Library

A LIBRARY cum internet point in the heart of the Darapara slum, it gives girls a space for their studies and a chance to browse through hundreds of books. Membership has gone up each year – now at 720 and counting. The librarians are girls whose education has been sponsored by TSHED’s donors. Also used for classes in written and spoken English, basic computer courses and leadership training, with funding TSHED hope to convert this temporary makeshift structure into a proper building.

Aasra Sadan

SET up five years ago just south of Kolkata, the home looks after 25 boys (6-18 years) from rag picker families identified by community workers as high-risk – victims of physical abuse, drug addicts or malnourished. With proper foster care, regular meals, after-school coaching and sports facilities, there has been a sea change in their behaviour – from a violent disposition to being receptive. TSHED hope to offer this safe haven to up to 100 boys. The monthly cost per child is Rs 3,050.

About Tiljala SHED

The management team is well experienced for the work that they are doing in each sphere. As a corporate participant, I feel good to be a volunteer for some of their projects - and also just as an individual and a citizen of this city.

Goutam Chanda, Godrej Properties, Kolkata

This amazing NGO never flag in their efforts to help the poor, the displaced, the illiterate and the forgotten people. Without discriminating on the basis of religion, national origin or ethnicity, Tiljala Shed have made a huge, life-saving difference.

Lee-Alison Sibley - Educator, Writer, Performer, US

At iVolunteer, we believe only residents of this country can make India a better place. Connecting volunteers to Tiljala SHED has been enriching for all. They have always been very supportive and encouraging to volunteers. We wish them loads of success!

Md. Tanveer, iVolunteer, Kolkata

  • Sk. Naushad President
  • Md. Alamgir Founder & Joint Secretary
  • Md. Shafkat Alam Joint Secretary
  • Anita Das Treasurer