The Belaku Trust Newsletter May 2011

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Highlights – December 2010 to April 2011

2010: The Biggest sales for income generation groups EVER!
Adolescent Legal Awareness Study
Sun-dried tomatoes business and menstrual practices

2010: The Biggest sales for income generation groups EVER!

In 2010 we sold more products than ever before. The women are thrilled with their success and we hope to continue this into the New Year. A big congratulations to the women at Ushe, Deepa and Kirana; Channa and Rajesh who manned and managed the logistics of many of the sales; and Baneen who marketed the products superbly and managed the full production process in the later part of 2010 after Ramya got the year started.

Our best selling products were scarves, both block printed and embroidered, elephants, embroidered pouches, paper bead necklaces and stationery sets.

Thank you to all those who sold for us or promoted our products over the Diwali and Christmas period both in Bangalore and abroad. Special thanks to these people who hosted large sales: Wiea van der Zwan, Dixie Harvey / Asha Kilaru, Vandana Malali, Erin Mee, Lisa Sengupta, Zoe Matthews and Rosemary Lawrence, Samina Bhatia, Charlie Mirrilees, Winne Holzman and Delphine Marie- Vivien.

We also thank Raintree, Fab India and the OWC Christmas Bazaar organizers for hosting very successful sales!

Adolescent Legal Awareness Study

We have completed a study of adolescent knowledge of the law and legal rights. The research will help us understand the knowledge of young people between the ages of 13 and 16 of what is legal, who has rights and what those rights mean. We explored how adolescents prioritise their rights and where their information is coming from.

We interviewed 500 adolescents from schools in the Kanakapura taluk, individually and in groups.

A main finding from the study was the children’s knowledge of laws pertaining to marriage was good. However their knowledge of laws relating to violence and property were poor. We found that there was a wide difference of knowledge between schools.

A HUGE Thank You to our Funders

We are very grateful to our generous repeat funders.

The Namaste Foundation is funding the Gelathi/ICDS support programme for a 3rd year! Through Namaste’s support we are also training the Ushe embroidery group to improve the quality, range of skills and speed of production.

The Overseas Women’s Foundation of Bangalore has supported us again for a 4th year running. With their help we are able to run bigger and better summer camps this year including a computer literacy component, environmental awareness, health and life skill messages.

Sun-dried tomatoes micro-business

We are currently in the research stage of a potential 4th Income Generation Project – Sun Dried Tomatoes. By partnering with a local restaurant group, we hope to help bring job opportunities to women by having them dry tomatoes in the sun as a source of income. This project is well under way with several pilot trials having produced successful batches of sun-dried tomatoes. We hope to share more information in the coming months as the project progresses.

Menstrual Practices research

Since January, Belaku has embarked on a study about menstrual hygiene practices in the villages we cover. Past research in Africa and Asia has found that inadequate menstrual protection has led to decreased school attendance and an increased incidence of health problems such as reproductive tract infections. We have completed five focus group discussions; though this is a difficult topic to discuss openly, Belaku is learning a lot about the communities where we work. Initial findings include:

* For the most part, women seem to use cloth for protection. The cloth comes from old clothing. Cloth can be used from two months to seven months before disposal.
* There were very few women understood why they menstruated or how. The ‘release of bad blood’ or ‘waste blood’ was mentioned during all focus groups. Women demonstrated a particular interest to learn more about their menstruation.

With more comprehensive understanding, Belaku now hopes to be able to design an appropriate intervention in the near future. Thanks for your support!

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