ON THE GROUND: DIPIN Foundation in India

Scheme: To provide an education infrastructure and housing for the tribal villages of Kawajichiwadi and Rajmachi, near Pen, in the hills south of Mumbai, India

Funding: Receives a total of £24,380 with £13,000 coming from individual donors, £9,380 from DIPIN Foundation's reserves and £2,000 from Ashworth Charitable Trust

Objectives: To improve the quality of life for the villagers by organising work and educating the illiterate

In the exhaustingly hot Indian village of Kawajichiwadi, there is no water or sanitation. The 97 inhabitants face intolerable hardship with the local women having to walk for an hour to the nearest water supply.

Many of the men trek 20km bare footed to the nearest town of Pen in the hope of finding temporary work as labourers.

This is the daily grind for the Thakur people who live in the deteriorating wooden shacks in Kawajichiwadi. The limited work opportunities and a high birth rate mean that villagers struggle to maintain their traditional lifestyle.

There are many such tribal villages in the Raigad District between Mumbai and Goa in the south-west of India. The DIPIN Foundation, a small Reading-based charity with just one full-time staff member and two volunteers, is working to improve conditions in Kawajichiwadi and the nearby village of Rajmachi.

"It is essential that these people get our help," says Alison Gryce, chief executive at the foundation.

"We are going to build housing of solid construction and tiled roofs for everyone in the two villages. Kawajichiwadi will be first, the larger Rajmachi will follow."

The foundation will follow a planning template used by the Indian-based Community Aid and Sponsorship Programme (CASP), which has already transformed similar villages.

Apart from problems of food and shelter, there is a lack of medical facilities in the region, with the nearest government-maintained heath centre 20km away in Pen. Many families migrate to large towns but Gryce says this doesn't help because once they arrive all they find is "more poverty".

Nearby Mumbai, for instance, is already densely populated and offers few opportunities to illiterate newcomers.

The foundation's plans for Kawajichiwadi include building a day centre for adults and a school to give children a general education. Among other schemes will be a sponsorship programme for teacher training and the development of local employment opportunities to dissuade villagers from migrating to cities.

Gryce estimates that the initial housing project will be completed by May.

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