Dolyatra is celebrated in March on varying dates each year, depending on the position of the moon, and this year it fell on March 7. The holiday is similar to Holi and commemorates the last festival of the Bengali calendar.
Shuktara Outreach – delivering assistive devices to Purulia
Pappu’s follow-up trip delivered assistive devices to disabled children and young people in two villages in Purulia district, West Bengal. Seven AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis) and one movable support chair were distributed. The photos and videos below show the importance of shuktara’s outreach to villages who are not currently given any outside support for the disabled.
Tarakeswar Kumar walking with his newly fitted AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis). This device is used to stabilise the joints, improve the gait and physical functioning of lower limbs.
Assembling the special chair that will allow Tanjim, who has only been able to lie on a string bed all her life, to sit. The team includes Debasish and his friends who live in Baghmundi village.
Pappu sitting with Tanjim in her new support chair.
This is life-changing for Tanjim who up to this point has only been able to lie on a string bed.
Clearly Tanjim is overjoyed to have her new chair made expressly for her measurements and needs.
Pappu and Tanjim say thank you to all our supporters!
Distributing blankets in the villages
Pappu and the team just got back to Kolkata from Purulia district where they have been distributing blankets to the families that they are supporting.
They will return in a few weeks when the orthopaedic shoes and chairs that are currently being made to order are ready. They will also sort out hearing tests for the Deaf children and young people in the village who have never had any medical help.
Even though the shuktara family are now grown up, healthy and well supported, they still need for us not to forget about them – our support has dwindled dramatically in the last years since the pandemic and yet the work being done on the ground has grown enormously.
Please donate if you can – your support not only helps shuktara in Kolkata but also our Outreach programme providing assistance to the children and young people in Purulia district.
If you donate now a generous donor has agreed to double any donation given to Shuktara up to the total £30,000 cost to run the Outreach programme for 3 years.
Happy holidays from shuktara!
Message from Nagendra Kumar Mishra (Pappu), Chairman of shuktara in India
Message from David Earp, founder of shuktara
It is wonderful from where I am sitting today (having not been back to India since the end of covid restrictions) to watch Pappu really step up and turn shuktara into something that is his dream. Continuing and fulfilling my dreams and wishes for everything that I hoped for during the 20 odd years that I was in Kolkata. And actually so much more!
I remember being confined at home for two months during the Indian lockdown. Pappu had thought something would happen and therefore put many things in motion to ensure that everybody at shuktara had enough to eat and enough medical supplies to last.
I know many of you were touched when he decided to share the food that we had gathered with those in our community who had nothing and who had no way of getting anything.
You may also be aware that in the last months Pappu has been told about villages many hours’ drive outside of Kolkata on the border of Bihar. These villages are so far off the beaten track that few people visit them, let alone health care professionals or doctors. After his first visit to this area he met many families who are looking after and caring for their disabled children. He has now put into place a group of people including shuktara’s physiotherapist, as well as two young Deaf women who will be able to oversee this outreach for him.
On a personal level I feel a great pride watching Pappu grow – and his wish to share more of what the young people at shuktara have with families that in comparison have nothing.
Thank You for your support
David Earp – founder shuktara
Message from Adam Thompson, Chairman of Shuktara Trust UK
From David’s first days above the beauty parlour on Southern Avenue with Anna and Sunil to our two homes in Kolkata today, Shuktara has always helped those who had nowhere else to turn. Over the past year Pappu’s amazing Shuktara Outreach programme has built on this legacy to help families coping with disability in some of the poorest parts of remote, rural West Bengal. The programme is already having a profoundly life-changing impact for these families.
We’re incredibly excited to announce that a donor has agreed to double any donation given to Shuktara up to the total £30,000 cost to run the Outreach programme for 3 years.
If you remember to add Gift Aid, these matching funds mean that for every £10 you donate, Shuktara will actually receive £25!
Click here to donate
As always, a huge thank you from all the Shuktara family for your amazing generosity over the past year and best wishes for a brilliant holiday-break with friends and family.
Adam Thompson – Chairman Shuktara Trust UK
Pink nails for Durga Puja
With all the things Pappu has going on during this busy holiday season he still has time for varnishing nails at Lula Bari.
Shuktara offers support to disabled young people in the villages
In Kolkata shuktara is blessed with a wide range of support including the schools our young people attend, the doctors who we have access to and, most importantly, the support of friends and a group of dedicated staff headed by Pappu who work 24/7 each and every day throughout the year.
During lockdown and after the two cyclones we saw that there are others who do not have access to the same facilities and services that are available to us in the city.
Pappu decided to go back and visit villages in the Purulia district of West Bengal, outside of Kolkata, to see what help and assistance we at shuktara can give to disabled children and young people who live with their families but don’t have access to the care and support that we are so lucky to have.
The photos and video below show some of the young people who Pappu met during his visit.
Helping a village
Since the latest lockdown and devastating second wave we have also had another cyclone to deal with.
It is easy for us living in a city where we have local shops and markets open in the morning hours, to forget about the villages that have nothing.
Pappu has been informed about a village outside Kolkata where they have been badly hit and is loading up with supplies to distribute to the villagers there.
Each family will receive potatoes, salt, dal, rice, soya bean protein, biscuit packets and bread. The village is on the Ganges Delta an area which was very badly hit by the cyclone as well as their homes and paddy fields being destroyed. They are not only dealing with the aftermath of flooding post-cyclone, but with covid lockdown restrictions and the worries of that as well.
Everyone in India celebrates the coming of spring with the festival of Holi, called Dol in West Bengal (Bengali: দোল পূর্ণিমা ‘Dol Purnimā’). The celebration last Sunday involved a rainbow of colours and gave a chance for both shuktara homes to interact with people in the community.
Only on this day are young people allowed to be a little cheeky with older people by gently rubbing powdered colour on their faces. As you can see it’s a delightful celebration and no one can resist smiling.
Welcome new Raju
When you consider that most of the young people who live at shuktara have been with us from around the year 2000 and that we started the girls home in 2007, we believe most of the boys are about 30 and the girls are in their 20s.
This hit home the other day when Pappu, the chairman of shuktara in Kolkata received a call from a Child Welfare Agency asking if we could take an older boy. Raju Biswas is Deaf and autistic, living with his mother in a room in a village three hours outside of Kolkata in rural Bengal. Her fear of what will happen to Raju when she dies led her to ask around for help.
Pappu met both Raju and his mother last week and on Sunday 28th February he and some of the boys from shuktara went to pick up Raju, see his mother and sign all the legal paperwork. Raju’s mother has no TV or mobile phone but her neighbour has said that she can video call from her phone to Pappu and keep in touch with her son.
We are all happy to welcome one more Raju to shuktara and let’s try to remember that even though, through habit, we talk about the girls home and the boys home, these are mostly young men and women who because of their disability have lost, left or been abandoned by their families.
Shuktara is their home now, it’s not an orphanage, it’s not a children’s home, it is their home and for most of them it will be their home forever.