A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Love blossoms at Karunai Illam

At the age of 79, most of us will feel lonely, dejected and as if we are disconnected from others in the world. But Jean Watson, an old woman from New Zealand was all the way from New Zealand to a small village called Nilakottai, in Dindukal District, Tamil Nadu during the month of September 2012. The day 25th September, 2012, marked the Silver Jubilee function of Karunai Illam that she founded to help the poverty stricken and destitute children in Nilakottai and nearby villages. Age was visible in her face with wrinkles and in her slow paced walk. Yet she is still young, confident and strong by her heart. Above all her life in this world has a definite purpose.

Called by the name by Gene aunty, this woman is very special to the children at the home. The love and affection that the children showered over her and by the other people in the villages who wished their infants to be blessed by Gene, is the testimony of how Jean Watson was very close to their lives.

Jean Watson came to India as a Tourist from Whangerai, North of New Zealand as early as 1984 and travelled to many parts of the country. She loved the country and had the urge to visit it again. She came back in 1986, stayed for some time in Kanyakumari were she got acquainted with one Mr.Subbaiah and Ms.Mariammal in the locality. In 1987 she came back again and happened to visit Nilakottai along with Subbaiah and Mariammal, where she got exposed to plight of the poor children who could not afford for good food and good education. This prompted her to start the Karunai Illam in the same year along with Subbaiah and Mariammal.

The vision of Karunai Illam is to free young and disadvantaged people from the limitations of poverty and ignorance so that they can find satisfaction and enrichment in their lives and express their full potential.

Jean herself started teaching the children. Karunai Illam basically offers

  • Free boarding for destitute children at a children’s home (DHAN Karunai Illam) so that they can attend nearby schools;
  • A model nursery and primary school to give local children a quality education alternative, utilising creative methods to encourage their natural talents;
  • Fees and boarding costs towards tertiary education for academically able former students of the DHAN Karunai Illam

Karunai Illam so far has supported as many as 171 poor children since 1987. Presently Karunai Illam houses 43 children (girls and boys aged between five & sixteen) in a friendly family atmosphere. They are well fed and clothed and go to the local schools. To impart technical skill to aspiring young entrepreneurs Karunai Illam also offers skill training on tailoring, mobile phone repair, computer training beautician training, artificial jewelry making etc., through its community college known as LIFE (Livelihood Initiatives with Functional Education), to equip young people with practical vocational skills (such as tailoring, mobile phone repairing, computer training, beautician courses) so that they can earn a living or supplement incomes in a skilled way.

Facilities: For providing accommodation to the poor children a building was purchased in 1991. The facilities in the house were improved later toilets, bathrooms and dining hall coming into place. The Kitchen got completely rebuilt to suit the needs of the Illam. The girl children were presently house here.

By 2003-04 an additional plot was purchased opposite to the illam in which two large dormitories and care-givers room on a second floor was constructed which housed the boys. Toilets and bathrooms are also constructed. Later the boy’s hostel was constructed in a coconut grove owned by the Illam. Presently the boys are residing in the newly constructed illam.

The boy’s hostel was converted in Karunai-DHAN Nursery school by 6th June 2008. The school which was initiated with 33 students and two teachers now has enrolled 240 children and functions with 17 teachers to educate them.

Marching ahead

The generosity and charitable mind of Jean Watson, led to the growth of this institution over years into a full-fledged home for poor and orphaned children. However the Illam encountered a problem when her local associates running the home started misappropriating the funds. Jean dissolved the partnership and later roped in DHAN Foundation as a partnering NGO. The illam which was functioning as Mahatma Karunai Illam was rechristened as DHAN-Karunai Illam.

The Karunai Illam has enabled many children to go far higher studies and settle in respectable jobs. The silver jubilee function held symbolizes that the Karunai Illam will continue to support more children in the coming years in its way towards the Golden jubilee function. Jean rendered the financial support for this organization individually and later roped in many of her friends and associates in New Zealand. They operate in the name of Karunai Illam Trust and provide continued support and assistance.

Their new local partner DHAN Foundation has been rendering all their support and guiding them for new initiatives. Karunai Illam will continue to shower its love and affection, for the poor and orphaned children.

Celebrating 25 years of Karunai Illam – Nilakottai, 25 September 2012

The children of Karunai Illam and Karunai DHAN nursery school gathered along with Jean Watson and special invitees from DHAN for the Silver jubilee function held on 25th September, 2012. Also present were the old students and the local community leaders. The event started with lighting of the wicks in oil placed in a shiny brass lamp called ” Kuthuvilaku” and prayers by the children from Karunai Illam. This was followed by a short speech by Mr.Khadher, Federation Coordinator, Nilakottai Vattara Kalanjiam, promoted by DHAN Foundation which renders the managerial support to DHAN-Karunai Illam. Jean also delivered her short and sweet speech about the years of struggle to maintain this institution and expressed her love for the children. Then the children and the team were divided into sub-groups to think over and suggest ideas for “Way forward for the Illam”. The groups presented their ideas and said that they will eradicate poverty in Nilakottai and surrounding district in another twenty five years of time. This was followed by the post lunch session, the lunch beingprepared by two of the old children of the illam. The children had their art work displayed in the nearby hall. The creative talent of the children nurtured by the Illam received lot of appreciation.

The event was made more effective with the presence religious persons- two Swamiji’s from Ramakrishna Mission, a Christian Priest and a Muslim leader, which is indication that the Illam functions without any kind of discrimination. The event came to a successful end with presentation of gifts and shawls to persons who have helped the Illam to achieve this remarkable feet during these twenty five years. And in the words of Jean ” I was moved by the appreciation of the Karunai Illam Trust and its partner DHAN Foundation by the community from NIlakottai.

Comments are closed.