PROJECTS MUKTI NOW FUNDS

Currently MUKTI is raising funds for:

Karm Marg : a home for street children based in the outskirts of Delhi.
Naz : a home for abandoned HIV Positive and AIDS children based in Delhi.
Maher : the largest refuge in India for battered women and their children, based in Pune.

Karm Marg :

Karm Marg was founded in 1997 by Veena Lal. Veena was a social worker who was helping street children particularly in the area around the Delhi railway station and red-light district. One of her concerns became the lack of adequate orphanages and the high runaway rate from the orphanages that there were. Children might enter institutions when they were battered enough and hungry enough but the runaway rate was extremely high.

She started Karm Marg – which means 'The Way of Action' – in a small room near the station where street children could come for care and attention. She realised that children who have lived on the street develop enormous independence and a certain street-smart intelligence that did not fit well with a conventional orphanage. An Indian family trust familiar with their work gave them the capital to buy land, and Karm Marg – the home for street children, organised and run by the children themselves – was born. The home on the land was provided for by a Dutch funding agency. Veena still facilitates, guides and cares for the children, but they set the rules and provide for their own and each other's well-being.

The dream of the children who founded that first home was to start a village for street children, a place where any child who wished to come off the streets and contribute to a community would be welcome. A lack of funds leaves that an unrealised dream, and at the moment the home houses just 40 children. This number will rise over the next year as building work has now been completed on extra dormitories. The Karm Marg family is growing up: we have now had our first child married, and last year our first child entered university.

Karm Marg and Jugaad :

Karm Marg is a registered NGO (non-governmental organisation) andhas to earn its own funds for all of the children's needs, including food, shelter and education. To this end they founded 'Jugaad' – which means 'something made from nothing' – and at first produced small handcrafted items that they would sell at craft markets and to well-wishers. The materials for the crafts came from off-cuts and discards of factories in the area.

The village that Karm Marg was founded in did not initially welcome a home for street children in their midst! However, as their Jugaad label has grown (for example, they now supply 10,000 paper bags per year for a company in Germany) they have been able to expand their range into a variety of cloth bags, Yoga bags, purses and wallets, and provide employment in the village. The Jugaad workers are largely women on subsistence incomes who work at home. The children are still involved in running the business: designing the goods and quality control, and the older children also in production and selling. In this way older children who have completed their education, earn their independence and learn the details of running a business. This latter point is essential as even in modern India, employers are not going to put ex- street children on the top of their employment list!

In 2011 Trudie and Sting attended 'the Bag Issue' launch event in London hosted by the Big Issue, to begin the process of supplying Jugaad bags to buyers in England.

Naz Care Home :

Social worker Anjali Gopalan returned to Delhi after working in the States for some time. She immediately got involved with both social care and activism for the growing HIV/AIDS community in India. Naz – which means 'Pride' – was formed and became a large and vocal organisation on behalf of the community.

Anjali did warn that care would have to become part of their work at some point and the Naz Care Home was founded when the first child, discovered to be HIV Positive, was left on their doorstep.

The Naz Care Home provides 24-hour medical care, housing, caring and education for 36 children. Some children arrive in a terrible condition, near death. Due to their excellent programme that encompasses nutrition and conventional medicine, only two children have died.

In 2007 Naz lost their funding and appealed to MUKTI for assistance. They then became the 2nd home in India we started supporting.

Maher :

Maher is the world's largest refuge for battered women and their children, and is based in Pune, India. It was founded by a nun from Kerala, Sister Lucy.

When a local village woman approached Sister Lucy one day to beg for help as she felt her husband wanted to kill her, Sister Lucy had to turn her away as her convent made no provision for such assistance. She asked the woman to return the next day and said she would make enquiries in the village to see if she could get her some help. That night the pregnant woman was indeed murdered by her husband.

Following an inner call, Sister Lucy left the convent, and with 32 rupees from a local businessman, started Maher. Today Maher is a thriving community of 200 women and 650 of their children.

Sister Lucy and Swami Ambikananda met when they were both presenting at a conference in Turin. Swami A was immediately drawn to the extraordinary work being done at Maher, and with the help of Trudie Styler, MUKTI was at once able to contribute a badly needed jeep for the project.

Sister Lucy had cherished a dream of providing a home for old ladies and widows who were left abandoned on the street, and she appealed to Swami Ambikananda and MUKTI for help. Sunkhsandhya – meaning 'Sweet Years' – was formed, and it now houses 28 old ladies. MUKTI is currently the sole support of this home.

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