Joseph Educational Trust runs a wide range of programmes designed to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, marginalised and Indigenous peoples of Tamil Nadu, India. Keep reading to find out how Onaway’s funding has been helping to provide hope to the local population since the 1990s.
Named after its founder, Joseph William, Joseph Educational Trust (JET) was established in 1996 with the aim of alleviating poverty and hardship among the marginalised and Indigenous communities of Tamil Nadu in India. The organisation takes a comprehensive approach to improving welfare, running a wide variety of initiatives in areas ranging from healthcare, sanitation and nutrition to environmental conservation, heritage and mental health.
JET believes that education is the key to improving the lives and future prospects of disadvantaged and marginalised peoples, with many of their programmes focusing on skills training, youth and female empowerment, entrepreneurship, and networking. The Onaway Trust is proud to have been a supporter of JET’s work for almost three decades, providing crucial seed funding for a variety of programmes designed to empower the Indigenous community and protect their local environment.
Joseph Educational Trust carries out its work in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a region in which a quarter of the population are classified as ‘Dalits’, the lowest social ranking in India’s hierarchical caste system. India is a country of high inequality, not only in cultural terms but also economically, with 90% of the nation’s wealth owned by 10% of people and a staggering 500 million Indian citizens living in poverty.
‘Dalits’, many of whom come from Indigenous communities, suffer with many personal and social issues as a result of the unjust oppression and discrimination they face. Certain groups are excluded from society and denied their basic rights, such as equal access to education, employment opportunities, sanitation and healthcare. As a result, these communities struggle with drug and alcohol addiction as well as high rates of domestic violence. This lack of access to resources and support has led to a literacy level of merely 5%, and female infanticide and child marriages are still commonplace in affected communities.
“Our different programs deliver benefits to indigenous communities and slum dwellers without any regional, linguistic, caste, creed and religious barriers.”- JET
The Onaway Trust has supported JET on a number of impactful programmes throughout the decades. In recent years, projects have focused on improving standards of living and future prospects through education and skills development initiatives in the disadvantaged communities of Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu.
JET provides training in practical trades such as plumbing, carpentry, embroidery, soap and candle making, and mushroom cultivation, in addition to offering support with networking to match trained candidates with job opportunities. Through the Blossom Training Institute, they are able to instil within young people the knowledge and values needed to empower them to build a brighter future.
However, the organisation does not underestimate the importance of soft skills and mental health support in improving overall wellbeing. For this reason, JET invests in counselling and psychosocial support, as well as the teaching of yoga and meditation and life skills such as English language.
By improving both the employability and mental wellbeing of the community, JET hopes to bring the five key UN sustainable development goals to its target communities: zero hunger, health and hygiene, clean water and sanitation, education, and gender equality.
With the help of Onaway’s funding, JET was able to continue delivering this support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, giving guidance in yoga and meditation to 750 school and college students as well as free counselling to many families to promote both physical and mental wellbeing during this challenging time.
Essential supplies including face masks, soap, and food staples such as rice, flour, vegetables, oil and immunity-boosting drinks were distributed among in-need groups. Vital information was circulated to spread awareness of COVID-19 and many were given vaccinations against the disease, as well as other dangerous illnesses such as polio.
“We have been faithful and committed to our service and cause ever since our partnership with The Onaway Trust.”- JET
Despite the pandemic, JET has never lost sight of the many areas in which they aim to make a difference in Indigenous communities. As testament to the team’s hard work and dedication, Tamil Nadu has seen benefits to the wellbeing of both its human population and their local environment.
The health of women and children has improved following the implementation of traditional healthcare programmes, and the community is now better equipped to face the future thanks to their new skills, job placements and mental health support.
People have become more aware of the importance of forest conservation and proper waste segregation and disposal, and nature is beginning to flourish as a result. In some areas, the use of single-use plastics has completely stopped, the community has begun to harvest rainwater and thousands of trees have been planted, resulting in a greener and healthier environment for all.
Onaway is proud to have provided vital funding for JET’s inspiring and life-changing work over many years and we look forward to continuing this close partnership in order to create a better world for generations to come.
“Together we can make a better world.”- JET