Floral waste s a huge problem in Chennai (and India), with tonnes of flowers being dumped in waterways and landfills every week. Project Malar is a collaboration between Holy Waste, India WASTED and KKSS, to create a local flower recycling project that cleans up waterways, as well as provides income and employment to local women. We are testing this pilot in late 2021, with hopes to work closer with the municipality and Chennai Corporation in 2022.
Rajini from KKSS and Ann from India WASTED
We are beyond excited to share images of the recently completed Sathyam Empowerment Centre, made possible by 243 beautiful people donating in early 2020 (days before COVID hit). One year delayed, impressive considering the challenges this community faced in the last 18 months. This community centre will host events, a rooftop garden and training programs aimed at empowering local women to live safe, happy and financially independent lives.
Designed by Raw Architecture and built by Merit League.
An incredibly exciting time, and impressive that Raw Architecture & Merit League have been able to complete the Sathyam Empowerment Centre during one of the most challenging and uncertain years. There were many times that construction had to stop, most notably in the huge surge that ripped through India in April 2021, but they always had the safety of the residents as their top priority. We are so thrilled with the result and can’t wait to see it in person, COVID depending of course!
Last month our fundraiser for KKSS to support them through the biggest surge of COVID. With some extra special donors, this actually reached €9198 which will help with additional medical bills for new children and residents.
This s a very difficult time for KKSS and the community. With support from doctors and medical experts, we were able to buy PPE gear, design the centre with COVID positive zones to keep healthy residents safe, guidelines for caregivers and provide regular testing for the centre to make sure they can care for those that are ill, and keep t from spreading more. We weren’t able to do this without the help of those that donated €6712 in 48 hours.
With the world-record breaking COVID numbers in India at the end of this month, it was only a matter of time before it was on the doorsteps of KKSS. This brings two vulnerabilities: COVID inside the centre of babies, children, staff, women and elderly - all whom live in close quarters, and a collapsing healthcare system with little availability. On discussion with the Rajini, director of KKSS, we are raising €6500 as quickly as possible to cover hospital bills/medical supplies/food supplies for three months. Please visit https://chuffed.org/project/covid-help-for-kkss to donate.
Construction has started on the Sathyam Empowerment Centre, nearly a year after we raised €23,500. Each day now we’re getting closer to an amazing facility for education, training and income opportunities for girls and women!
In July we reached out to our small Sathyam community with another request this year. That KKSS was in a pretty dire situation due to the reduction of over 60% of their funds because of the lockdown and subsequent economic fall in India. The local businesses, families and community members that had supported KKSS for years were suddenly unable to (with huge reasons of course) but this left KKSS and it's near 100 residents in a tough spot. We reached out and asked that if they had the means to, we were hoping to raise €1000 to send every month until June 2021. And with huge acts of generosity (no matter how much the size of the donation was) we have finally made it there. Another huge achievement for 2020!
We still have a lot of work to do, but now Rajini and the staff of KKSS can focus on their most important work - caring for and keeping the babies, children and elderly at KKSS safe, happy and healthy!
Independence Day in India was celebrated in August, and it was a welcome respite from the current goings on of the pandemic in India. KKSS is in strict lock down with only authorized staff and carers allowed to enter the building. Usually the outside space is very quiet, but for one day in August there was a celebration, socially distanced, COVID style.
Rajini, the Secretary Director of KKSS, partner of Sathyam project, and legal guardian for over 35 children.
COVID-19 has hit India hard. KKSS (Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society), our partner NGO in Chennai, have been able to stay relatively safe during this time by following strict hygiene and social distancing rules. However, the nation-wide lockdown has meant mass unemployment with devastating impact to an already fragile economy. For KKSS, the knock-on effect has meant a funding cut of almost 60%. In addition to this, there has been a rise in the number of admissions seeking help including nine newborns, pregnant women and more young, fatherless families needing food and shelter.
We are opening up a sponsorship fund to help KKSS through this period until June 2021 (where we will re-evaluate the needs again). Our goal is to be able to send them €1000 per month.
While we were in Chennai earlier this year, I spent some time teaching the girls how to take their own photos. I developed the film this week in Berlin, turns out they're pretty talented!
Staff and residents at KKSS are taking their new hygiene measures very seriously, with strict rules on masks, hand washing and distancing when possible. Sathyam was able to provide needed funds to cover the costs of the medical supplies as well as they have increased doctor visits especially to monitor their extremely vulnerable elderly community.
COVID is not just about the virus. The ripple effect across the lower socio-economic parts of society, especially in India, is catastrophic. In the past month alone, KKSS is operating on 70% less money per month - because of the lockdown, donations from the community and from businesses have been cut. On top of this decreased funding, they are receiving many more admissions: here are more babies, more pregnant teens and more children being admitted through the doors to be card for, fed, given medical assistance and shelter. And of course KKSS is taking them in even though they are dangerously low on funds.
Sathyam has provided a small amount of money to pay for medical supplies to protect themselves, some of the most vulnerable people in society. We provided masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, isolation planning within their campus and a series of workshops with staff, elders and children.
However the impact that COVID has had on KKSS is much larger. There are 9 newborn babies. There's a pregnant mother with 3 children whose husband committed suicide due to loss of income. There a new children being left every week. And this will continue.
What can we do? We're preparing a support plan for KKSS that we'll release in the next week or so. Stay tuned!
Working with Pradhumna and Mridhula of Raw Architecture, despite the situation of designing and finalising this project remotely, we are making great progress! We have been able to design the classroom/centre, the landscaping, the simple accommodation and the construction plan remotely. We are in great hands and hope to start construction within the following months.
Even during the lockdown in India, our girls are keeping up with their studies from their residential campus. As we navigate this challenging time, KKSS have taken a stand not to forget the importance of education in these girls lives and that they are fighting for a real future.
I am thrilled to say that together, all 244 of us, smashed the fundraiser. We raised a total of €23,453, which minus the platform + card processing fees is €21,489.7 - which is quite unbelievable. I had created this fundraiser because I had a last minute cancellation from a larger donor, and I dreaded asking for money. I dreaded to think how I could try to convey the importance of this facility in India to my friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, and not only that - for people to connect with it so deeply that they took it upon themselves to reach out to their friends, family, work colleagues and acquaintances.
But you all did. And it was totally worth it. Why? Because now we’re building it together. We’re connected in this journey and everyone’s role - whether small or large - is part of a bigger whole.
Construction will begin once the lockdown is lifted. We'll begin designing our first women's projects during this time. We’ll be iterating and validating fast, making sure we keep our women at the centre of the program evolution. Of course, I will keep you updated along the way!
For some of these energetic little humans, KKSS is the first home they've had. But due to lack of funds, it's hard to provide everything from the beginning. So for the kids age 3-5, they didn't have proper beds. So in the days during the fundraiser, we decided to solve this immediate problem. Jannis was with us, and as a furniture designer and trained carpenter, we were in good hands! So we gave ourselves a budget of €500 and 4 days and to my astonishment, we actually pulled it off. We made deals for plywood and paint, we hired dodgy tools (that worked pretty well) and worked from the hot morning until there was no light left. After drying over the weekend, we were able to put them in yesterday and let’s just say it was all vibes - the kids loved them, the staff loved them. Jannis was even able to design much needed shelves with the leftovers so we basically had no waste. Thank you to our helpers who came and painted! Epic 4 day mission complete 🤸🏻♀️💪🏼❤️
Tamil Nadu is the 11th largest state of India and is just over 67 million people. in 2016, KKSS won the Best Institute for Women's Rights and Welfare in the whole state. This is an incredible achievement and recognises the tireless work they do to create better lives for girls and women in South India. They are pioneers in changing the narrative of women, and creating leaders of tomorrow.