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Forgotten in the Margins: Can We have an Equal World?

It is true. Living standards around the world have gone up generally.

Matter of fact, global inequality reduced in the last decade for the first time since the early 19th century during the First Industrial Revolution.

A large part of this change in fortunes has been driven by a spike in average incomes in the developing world – the developing world encompassing relatively poor countries like India and China, the two most populous nations in the world, not to mention countries in Latin America.

However, looking at the issue from such a wide lens would be papering over the cracks and ignoring the true sentiment on the ground.

Because while the masses are enjoying better incomes driven by a multitude of factors (key among them literacy) there is still a yawning gap between the rich and poor people that continues to grow wider by the year even in developed nations like the UK and United States.

In fact, it is this disparity in financial status that has fuelled movements like Occupy Wall Street in the United States and the Yellow Vest protests in France as people grow disenchanted with the increasing inequality in incomes.

There is a sense that the ‘system’ is unfair and favours those with good connections, a few who are keen to maintain the status quo.

These sentiments echo the general feeling among the working class in most countries around the world, not just in France and the US – other parts of Europe, central Asia, Africa; no region is exempt.

But as the class wrangles between the super rich and working majority rage on, people on the financial bottom rung of society seem to have been forgotten.

As the world grows more closed up and everyone watches out for their own personal interests, we seem to have cast the poor man on the street and his family onto the peripheries of society.

It is disconcerting that in this day and age, millions of people are still living in the streets. The last time a worldwide survey was attempted in 2005, the UN Habitat estimated that 100 million people across the world were homeless.

And this is not just in India and countries in sub-Saharan African.

Rich countries like Britain have their own share of people sleeping rough on its streets. Thousands cannot afford a meal to sleep on, let alone put bread on the table – for those fortunate to have the table in the first place.

We could list a raft of reasons explaining the reasons behind the inequality in the world, from government policy to corruption to illiteracy and what-not, but let’s leave that for the research papers.

Of more importance is the acknowledgement that it exists and what we can do about it.

For subscribers of religion, the Christian creed of being your brother’s keeper seems to have been forgotten.

I’m sure we all can agree that people have become too individualistic in this modern society of ours – which itself has not actually helped as it advocates for personal independence and uniqueness at the expense of the social collective.

We only get mad when the price of avocado goes soaring and go huff and puff when we can’t log in to our favourite social network even for a few hours due to outage. We argue that it keeps us ‘connected’ (which it does on a global scale) but in essence what it has done is serve to disconnect us on an individual level.

Few care about what happens beyond their families, and even that ‘family’ is getting more compact as we close our eyes to the happenings within the larger extended family. We accuse some members of being a burden and reason that we can’t manage to be mindful of them as we have ‘too much to deal with’.

That’s not until we probably learn of their passing, then we will show up, with the guilty conscience leaving us wondering if or how we could have helped. But no sooner are the funeral proceedings wrapped up than we restore to default settings.

But we can do better than that, each one of us. We do not need to be philanthropists or members of non-profits that cater to the less privileged in society to show a bit of empathy to those suffering.

But empathy alone cannot solve the issue. It needs action.

Some might argue that it makes more sense teaching a man to catch fish than giving him fish for dinner. Absolutely, that’s the way to go – empowering people to stand on their own feet as opposed to giving them hand-outs throughout.

Taking children out of the streets and into a help centre where they can get some education, for example.

Or imparting women living in extreme poverty with vocational skills such as tailoring and embroidery, nanny training and childcare, basic nursing skills and so on.

Their male counterparts could also be empowered by training them in fields such as carpentry and metalwork, plumbing and electrical and more.

However, that can only work in the long-term.

There are instances where the fish makes more sense, at least in the short-term, as you literally cannot teach a hungry stomach to begin with. This form of help could come in the form of food, clothing, communal shelter – you know, the basic human needs.

Then we can go on from there.

Obviously, this alone is not enough to accomplish equality on a global scale. But uplifting the lives of the poor is a good starting point.

The notion of an equal world may be an illusion as it might be naïve – particularly in an individualistic society characterised by greed – but it doesn’t mean there are things we cannot do at a personal and community level to uplift the lives of the downtrodden in society.

As we wait for governments to create that enabling environment which may never be realised in this lifetime, there are things we could do in our own small ways that could have a far-reaching effect on that one person, and in turn, that small community.

The reverberating effect that would transpire can only be for the common good of humanity.

Why Poverty Makes us Resentful

There is a saying in Christianity about money being the root of all evil, but honestly, sometimes it can be hard to agree with this statement.

In fact, there are times when one is compelled to think the opposite: that poverty really is the root of, not all, but some evil.

Indulge me in this.

Money is morally neutral, if we could put it that way.

It is the attitude towards material wealth that has earned money its bad rap; so bad that some people have this subconscious fear of getting rich because, well, money will turn them into vile human beings.

You can understand this assumption when you look at it from the point of view that money keeps the wheels of evil operations oiled – human trafficking, poaching, violent dictatorships, terrorism, you name it. The pursuit of material wealth also drives people to do terrible things to one another.

Then again, we can’t deny that money also does an awful lot of good.

Were it not for charities, millions of children the world over would still be sleeping on the streets. Millions others in far-flung areas would starve to death because they rely on relief food for their survival every year. And money donated by citizens in developed nations has gone towards setting up hospitals and provision of vaccines in poorer countries.

Not too bad, eh?

Poverty, on the other hand, is a different ballgame altogether. It is a bitter life pill to swallow.

Poverty Breeds Poverty, Says Research

Being poor is a downright bad situation to find oneself in. And you can’t really fathom it until you find yourself wallowing in its stench.

It consumes from within, stripping one of dignity and dealing a blow to the self-esteem. And the worst thing about poverty is it can be a vicious cycle from whose clasp it is hard to escape from.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Genevan philosopher, was right when he said:

“It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.”

When faced with poverty, a person enters a “scarcity mindset” which forces them to focus on the here and now, harbour feelings of failure and internalise negative images. These were the findings of a study by Oxford University in conjunction with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It goes on to say the effects of poverty extend to the cognitive, echoing the findings of a separate study authored by Professor Jiaying Zhao of the University of British Columbia.

The latter found poverty takes up so much mental energy that the affected have little brainpower left to concentrate on other aspects of life, other than survival. As a result, there is less mental bandwidth to take the necessary steps to help break from the cycle of poverty.

In another landmark study carried out in 2010 by researchers from Concordia University and the University of Ottawa, it was noted that kids who come from impoverished backgrounds have higher chances of dropping out of high school, become premature parents and go on to raise their kids in poverty.

The study, which followed a group of boys and girls over a period of more than three decades, revealed low socio-economic status can have long-term detrimental effects – even when variables like education, childhood behaviour etc. are considered.

So, what has this got to do with poverty being evil?

Rich-Poor Divide

The thing is, we live in a financially unequal world where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing – this disparity is being felt across the world, not just in poor countries.

What this is doing is creating a big class difference. Sure, social classes have been there since the dawn of time, but times have changed.

Today, it is not uncommon to find two college graduates who attended the same classes living totally different lives after school. Of course, everyone has their own path, and the reasons why it unravels differently for everyone is beside the point.

The point we need to glean here is that some people will have more than others. In turn, what this does is lead to economic envy that stems out of these societal classes. The rich discriminate against the poor, while the poor look upon the rich with apathy.

It is natural for us humans to compare ourselves to one another. It is in our genetic makeup. We can spot it from early on in life when children engage in sibling rivalry, something rooted in the need to better the other, blood-related or not.

The danger of this social comparison, though, is that it sows seeds of acrimony, especially when you see your friends or peers doing better than you.

You know the feeling – that time you fall into the envy trap and start skimming through your friends’ pictures and updates on Facebook and Instagram. Suddenly, everyone seems to be leading a happier life than yours.

They come across as more accomplished, better looking, more loved, more likeable. We refresh our newsfeeds, and what do we see? – Mark and Lizzy posting pics from the Azores while we are stuck in a cubicle grinding out the day.

This arouses social media FOMO (fear of missing out) in us, and we start to irrationally believe everyone else’s life is superior to our own.

And it is a dangerous thing, this social comparison. It leads us down a destructive path which stirs sentiments of envy, jealousy, bitterness and sadness within us.

We still compare even when we’ve made it. Most millionaires, for instance, do not consider themselves “rich”. This is because they compare themselves not with those below them in the social echelons, but with those above.

It’s what we humans do – compare.

And it is normal, at least basing this on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

We first look to provide our loved ones with life’s basic needs, namely clothing, food and shelter. Once that is achieved, we then crave for other ranks within our social norms through the attainment of:

  • Higher salaries
  • Powerful job titles
  • Bigger houses
  • Better looking spouses

Seeds of Discord

It is not a coincidence that people from impoverished backgrounds tend to be more bitter with life.

Of course, this is not to say there aren’t some happy souls out there living humble lives. But given the option, most people would rather be the ones in the luxurious holiday pictures with perfectly-toned beach bodies – not on this other miserable end.

This is the rationale behind the bitterness and jealousy that consumes the poor.

And you cannot blame them really.

It is hard to look at the glass as half-full when you are a poor farmer with eight mouths to feed.

It is hard to be chuffed about life when some are buying food and ingredients in bulk or dining out at the best restaurants while you are struggling to put porridge on the table.

It is hard to stay positive when your kids are getting sent home for school fees while someone else is taking his/her kids to the best schools in the land (or even abroad).

Psychologists have established that envy resulting from poverty depresses wellbeing and pushes down life satisfaction. It is positively linked with depression and neuroticism, and it breeds hostility which can make us sick.

In 2008, Gallup ran a large survey in America which asked people whether they felt “angry that others have more than they deserve”.

Those who strongly disagreed with this statement – aka those who were not envious – were nearly 5 times more likely to answer that they were “very happy” with how their lives were going compared to those who answered in the affirmative.

Final Thoughts

Poverty is very destructive in nature. It can turn good people into lunatics; saints into monsters; kings into slaves.

Poverty has claimed many a life because they lacked five dollars to buy drugs.

Poverty has robbed many girls of their innocence by forcing them into prostitution just so they can provide food for their siblings or family.

Poverty causes people to murder for money. Others have turned to terrorism lured by the promise of good money because they need to survive in a world where they can’t secure a job.

These are all things we witness on an everyday basis, and they are all triggered by – yup! –poverty. The root of evil.

In the words of the famed Roman poet, Juvenal:

“Poverty is bitter, but it has no harder pang than that it makes men ridiculous.


If You Don’t Put Out Your Candle No One Can Take a Light

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

We all are endowed with beautiful human qualities; special gifts unique to us and us only. Well, some people might be like:

‘Meh, I’m not so sure. I’m a writer but everyone is a writer nowadays, and I’m not even half good as they are, let alone a quarter!’

That very well may be, but the thing about gifts is that they are like fingerprints. Many people may carry the same gift, but the way we use ours is what will make us unique. There are a million artists but they all have their own style.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your [a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, [b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” [Romans 12:6-8:]

Some people are fortunate enough to have unearthed these special gifts early; others are yet to.

Some are sharing their gift with the world, while others – probably you – still have yours locked away, whether unknowingly or in complete cognisance of its existence but something keeps crippling you.

Fear mostly, it tends to be.

Of shining your candle.

Of burning it brightly, probably afraid no one will appreciate what you have to offer.

The fear that there may be others better than you and that you cannot match up.

Or even the fear that sharing your gift may extinguish it.

Some are probably a bit shy to share it for fear of being judged, others prefer to keep things a little private.

No matter your reason for not putting yourself out there, here’s a simple reminder for you: the world is poorer without your talent, and so are you.

In the words of Oliver:

“If there is one sin – or rather one waste – it is not doing what you have the inclination or gift for.”

Go ahead, Jump

Look, if you wait for the day you will get out of bed and have no fear to share your gifts with the world, chances are you might end up waiting forever.

The thing about fear is it stands in front of you. But if you can find a way to let it push you from behind, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

Of course, it’s easier said than done.

But who said you have to overcome your fear to do the things you should be doing?

You don’t have to.

Every single time you become conscious of the fact that fear is getting in your way of doing something, you have a choice to make: you can either choose to let it keep grounding you or you can opt to move through the fear.

Moving through the fear is not easy. But you know what else that does? It liberates you. And that’s one of the best feelings you will ever experience. Isn’t that more fun than all the fear and anxiety that grips you?

The beauty about making the leap is that once you do it for the first time, it gets easier the next time.

Parable of Talents

When we share our light with the world, we don’t become worse off for it. If anything, we add to the quality of our life by adding value to the lives of those who need it.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

If you are naturally adept at playing the piano, but you never share your God-given gift with other people, then what you are doing is selfishly wasting away your talent. When you share it, though, when you give it away, it becomes a gift to others, enriching their lives.

Would you say you have become worse off for it?

This is exactly what the Parable of the Talents teaches us.

One day, a rich man packs up his bags and heads off on a trip. Before he leaves, he summons three of his servants to give them some talents to manage while he is away. The first one gets five talents, the second one gets two, while the third receives one talent.

Time goes by and one day, the rich man comes back home.

The first two have managed to multiply their money. The five-talent servant has gained five more talents and the second servant has also doubled his.

As for the third servant, instead of investing the talents in order to earn more returns as the master would have expected of him, he went ahead and buried his one talent into the ground out of the fear of losing it.

The master wasn’t pleased with the third servant. So he takes the money back and casts off the servant. The other two who multiplied their talents are praised and blessed with more for their good stewardship.

So, what can we glean from this parable?

Sharing your Light

Each of us is endowed with a great gift.

And as with the talents bestowed upon the servants by their master, each of these gifts comes with great responsibility. The gifts are not meant to be buried in the ground for fear of losing them; they are meant to be made use of.

“Only when you cultivate your talents and gifts will you prosper.” ~ Sunday Adelaja

When we share, our gift will grow and the returns will more than double. This will bring meaning to our lives, giving us a sense of fulfilment while adding value to those with whom we share the gift.

The failure to, on the other hand, could see us lose the gifts we have been given.

Because our Creator sees us sharing our light with the world, He will add to our light and send us even more opportunities. However, it is important to add that what is ours to give we should give unconditionally – Not expecting returns.

In closing, when you put out your candle for others to take a light, there can be no losing. Someone needs the light, and both of you will be better off for it.

“When God gives you a talent, He expects you to use it. It’s like a muscle. If you use it, it will grow. If you don’t, you’ll lose it.” ~ Rick Warren

Women in Non-Profits: Breaking into the Sector

As women’s issues – gender discrimination, work-life balance, equal pay and more – continue to take centre stage, the surprising dearth of women in non-profit leadership has not gone without notice.

What’s interesting is that the bulk of employees in non-profit organisations is made up of women – a whopping 75% in some sectors to be specific – which only serves to underline the old bias that the not-for-profit sector is largely a women’s domain.

But when it comes to the top rungs of the ladder, clearly, there is still a long way to climb.

The leadership issue aside, there are many women out there who hold an interest in non-profit work but do not know where to start in terms of launching their own thing. There seems to be this perception that starting a non-profit organisation (NPO) – and non-profit in this context referring to charity organisations – requires a huge injection of capital.

Well, to a large extent, that is very much true.

In a world where money does not grow on trees, launching a non-profit enterprise with little or no cash can be a tall order. And understandably so. Growing from nothing to a sustainable venture that is financially healthy does take some doing.

Across the world, there are thousands of stories of non-profits that have launched only to go bust in a few years, if not months. A lot of that has to do with being underfunded and solving the dilemma that is staying afloat with no profits coming in.

It is even more challenging when there are salaries and other expenses to be met – as opposed to solely relying on the goodwill of volunteers.

So, is it possible to launch on a shoestring and stay sustainable in the long-term?

Look out for the Pitfalls

Often the case, a lot of women planning to start their own outfit succumb to some common traps along the way, especially if they lack enough experience in the sector.

Starting a charitable non-profit is not straightforward. There are several potential missteps you need to sidestep, including:

  • Poor research and planning

One common mistake many start-up non-profits make is not coming up with a business plan. In the eagerness to do all that is noble, a lot of founders seem to forget that non-profits too are a form of business.

As you are aware, a business plan is an essential requirement for every business prior to launch.

When it comes to drafting your charity’s business plan, some of the things you need to give thought to include assessing the competitiveness of your environment, your funding sources, potential items and services to be offered and to whom, as well as a needs evaluation.

  • Inadequate financial knowledge

Many founders have an unrealistic expectation with regard to financing a start-up non-profit.

They fail to anticipate what it will take to take the enterprise off the ground, let alone having an idea of where they intend to source funding from.

  • Underestimating the task at hand

As already pointed out, starting a non-profit is harder than many people think. There are a myriad steps involved, many touching on matters legal such as incorporation and application for exempt status.

Pragmatic realism is as important as passion, if not more, when it comes to evaluating what is involved and the time it takes to accomplish success.

  • Failure to put together an effective board

This has the ability to make or break your non-profit given the board members are your first circle of influence.

These need to be individuals with plenty of influence, resources and other contacts. Also importantly, the board members should trust in your mission and be willing to sell it to others.

In other words, board members should be able to unlock doors for you.

  • Bookkeeping and accounting

Accountability is a key area of concern for NPO regulators, and bookkeeping is a fundamental aspect of disclosures.

Keeping records and books updated is a struggle for start-up non-profits, so consider outsourcing this task to a professional accountant if you can’t do it yourself. There are many professional accounting software solutions at your disposal that you can make use of.

Tips to Help you Break into the Non-Profit World

Amelia Earhart, the American author and aviation pioneer famously said:

‘Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.’

This is definitely the case when it comes to launching non-profits. There is a lot you need to get acquainted with to boost your chances of success.

Here are a few tips you should keep in mind before taking the plunge:

>> Don’t assume anything about non-profits – See ‘Underestimating the task at hand’ above.

>> Limited resources demand unlimited effort – you must be prepared to roll up your sleeves and could find yourself wearing multiple hats from time to time.

>>Learn to take a few steps back – It is easy to get sucked into the mission to the point you neglect other aspects of your life. Service to others is wonderful, but you can’t serve well when you are burnt out. You need to take care of yourself too.

>> Public speaking helps – As a non-profit leader, this is one of the most important skills you will need to build on. Not only will you be required to explain to donors the ROI they can expect in terms of impact and change from time to time, but this is also a skill you will find yourself drawing upon in your everyday dealings.

>> Relationships are key – Whether it is board members, donors, or volunteers, cultivating good relationships will throw wide open the doors of opportunity, conversations and new contacts.

>> Teach yourself how to drive participation by learning to ask people to work for free.

>> Fundraising is a must-read subject for anyone looking to venture into non-profit.

>> Learn how to keep donors engaged once you have them on board.

>> Remember that as a leader, you are responsible for setting the pace as far as your organisational culture is concerned. Be passionate about your mission and don’t forget a service mind-set should always come above everything else.


Watch Music Video: Local Charity Makes Clothes for Kids in India

Music Video Tells Story of Making Clothes for Kids in India



Blending of E3 Vocational Tailoring and Happy Hearts Kids Charities Doubles the Impact



You don’t need money to help people in need.

Remedia’s E3 Job Growth charity currently runs a tailoring program that trains women in India with employable job skills to help lift them out of poverty.

And Happy Hearts, another Remedia charity, gives kids who can’t afford it the chance to go to school, eat healthy food, and grow up with a better chance to escape the cycle of poverty.

When the tailoring women learned that the Happy Hearts kids needed more clothes, they asked people across the city to donate scraps of fabric and old clothes.

So much came in, they were able to create over 300 coats for the kids!

In addition to helping the kids, they got to practice their tailoring skills, and it was such a success they’re now working on over 600 sets of clothes for the kids for Christmas.

It’s a terrific example of one of the core values of Remedia – that you don’t need to have lots of money to help others in need. These women themselves are poor. That’s why their taking the tailoring course. But they saw a need and they found a way to help by using their skills and the resources at hand.

So, here’s a music video showing some Happy Hearts girls getting new clothes and then heading off to school. The music is Dolly Parton’s song My Coat of Many Colours, sang here by Australian country-western singer Mel Manuel.

When Program Director Jillian Haslam was a little girl in India living in the same kind of extreme poverty as the Happy Hearts kids, her mom once made a ‘coat of many colours’ for her and her sister. She had asked her daughters to collect fabric scraps from tailors around the city, and she used what people gave to create coats for them. Jillian and her sister Vanessa treasured their new coats, as these kids do here. That was the inspiration for this video, which is a re-enactment of Jillian’s childhood experience, starring kids living in similar conditions to the ones she grew up in.

Find out more about E3 Job Growth and the amazing job skills and empowerment you can provide for women and young adults

Find out more about Happy Hearts, and how you can give poor kids in India a chance at a better life with food, basic health care, and education they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Donor Spotlight: Giving Independence and Inclusion to India’s Disabled Poor

Delighted Donors Give 9 Wheelchairs

When Patrick and Elizabeth Howe heard about India’s disabled poor, some of whom had no way at all to get around, they just couldn’t sit back and do nothing.

So, they reached out to Remedia program director Jillian Haslam and asked her how they could help. Jillian gave them a very practical and simple answer:

They need wheelchairs.

the howes gave money for nine wheelchairs for some of india’s disabled poor

Makes sense, right? You see, giving to help the disabled poor isn’t much of a mystery. As the Howe’s put it, “Saint Teresa of Calcutta said it is not how much you give but how much love you put into the giving.”

The Howe’s were especially moved to action by this need because their own son used a wheelchair too. They couldn’t imagine him having no wheelchair to get around. It’s hard enough not being able to walk. But to not be able to move at all without someone else carrying you?

So the Howe’s gave enough money to pay for nine wheelchairs for some of India’s disabled poor, from all ages and with many types of disabilities. You can see some of them in the pictures below.

donors give wheelchairs to india’s disabled poor including these three adultsthese-two-disabled-young-men-receive-wheelchairs-from-donors-to-Remedia’s-India’s-Disabled-charity

After giving and seeing these pictures and the new mobility and independence they’ve made possible, the Howes felt an overflowing delight from the very tangible difference they’d made in the lives of these nine people. They felt a “connection and a oneness.”

Giving to meet a real need changes you on the inside in a way nothing else can.  For them, giving isn’t just about the person you’re helping. It also gives the donor “a sense of meaning and purpose.”

In other words, being comfortable and having a good job isn’t enough if you want real joy and satisfaction in life. There’s something more, and the Howes have tapped into it.

But, there are many more disabled poor in India who still can’t do the simplest things like make it to the bathroom or try to get food. Truly, the simplest things. We’re talking just staying alive.

Do You Want to Meet Real World Needs Too?

If you’d like to explore ways to help the disabled poor, find out more about India’s Disabled here.

Remedia has seven charities in all, meeting with all sorts of real world needs in India and the UK. Click the button below and choose the people you want to help most.

Vocational Tailoring and Computer Training Program Lifts Women Out of Slum Poverty

Program Bursting with More Applicants than Rooms Can Hold

They’ve had enough. So many young women and girls living in Indian slums are desperate to escape the crushing poverty their families have known for generations.

young woman learning to sew in vocational tailoring program from Remedia E3 job growth and rotary

What they need is opportunity. And opportunity is now reaching some of them in the form of vocational tailoring and computer skills training courses through a partnership between E3 Job Growth and the Rotary Salt Lake of Kolkata, India.

This ground-breaking partnership has the potential to lift thousands of young women and girls out of the slums, and into wage-earning careers that will provide for their families, give them hope to escape despair, and alter the course of their lives.

For many of these women, they married young and have several kids they’re struggling to provide for. For others, they’ve completed school, but have nowhere to go next. Their fathers and husbands are often working hard labour jobs like pulling rickshaws and cleaning garbage. Injuries, sickness, disease, poor sanitation and a lack of health care mean they’re constantly living one step away from destitution.

There’s not enough income, and too much need.

But as you’re about to see, helping the poor doesn’t have to mean just keeping them alive. For young people, it means giving them opportunity.

Because with opportunity, anything is possible.

For those who will do whatever it takes to have hope for a better life, they’ll jump at it. And that’s what these girls and young women are doing.

Job-Creating Vocational Tailoring Program

Girls have come home to their parents wearing the same clothes they learned how to make in the 1-year vocational tailoring program. When they show them to their parents, everyone is overjoyed and very excited. Why?

vocational tailoring students display clothes they’ve made in class

Because it’s not just clothing. What they’re wearing represents opportunity.

As they build skills throughout the year, they’re being prepared one of three possible opportunities:

  • Get a job using their skill for someone else
  • Work in a tailoring business we are setting up for them
  • Start their own tailoring business

The Rotary provides the sewing machines and other equipment. E3 Job Growth Remedia – through donations from people like you – pays for the location and all other expenses. The program teaches tailoring, sewing, design, and embroidery, and includes year-end exams.

The greatest challenge right now is that we’re limited by very confined spaces. We have only two tiny rooms to work in for this and the computer skills course, but there are hundreds of young women who want to take these courses.

Right now, we’re doing two shifts twice a day for 40 girls. For just £1500, we could double the space and double the number of young women who can gain employable skills and escape the slums. That’s just £1500 for an entire year, for twice as many women as are now in the program.

Give to E3 Job Growth Tailoring Program

Skill-Building Computer Training

Besides tailoring, many other girls and young women have chosen to learn computer skills.

4 young women learn computer skills in vocational computer training course in Kolkata India

They learn typing, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, as well as other office automation concepts. These skills will enable them to get jobs in offices, at front desks, and in other businesses.

If you’re unfamiliar, E3 stands for Education, Empowerment, and Employability. The 6-month basic computer training course hits all three. Women will leave this program empowered to go out and get good jobs they never could have gotten before.

They’ll be able to:

  • Care for their children’s needs
  • Send them to school
  • Show them an example of self-confidence and taking initiative
  • Escape a life of crushing poverty that has seemed hopeless for generations

This is why E3 is so exciting. Because when you empower young adults with skills that help them escape poverty, you’re changing the future not just for them, but for everyone who comes after them.


You’re removing the need for future life-saving charity work like feeding hungry and destitute people. Remedia serves those people too through Aging Smiles, which feeds and cares for people too old and frail to make the changes these young women are now making because of help from people like you. We do work to meet immediate needs for people who have no other option.

But E3 is about the future. E3 is about the elimination of poverty for the current generation and the ones that follow.

Learn More about Vocational Training – Get Report from Lake Market Research

If you’d like to learn more about E3 and the desperate need for vocational training like the tailoring and computer courses, sign up for our newsletter and you’ll receive an in-depth research report from Lake Market Research.

This report explores the astonishing absence of vocational training in developing nations, and the singular power it has to change the course of life for people who receive it.

Fill out the form below and grab your copy of the report!

“Our 100 Kind Deeds for Christmas” – How Christmas lost its meaning.

‘My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.’ – Bob Hope

Looking at the title of this newsletter it might have you wondering if I’m still suffering some kind of blues even before the fork has been stuck in and the Christmas tree has withered.

But I can assure you that I’m way over it already.

Rather, what prompts this message are deep-simmering thoughts that I have had for some time now but never really had a chance to put them into writing: how the true meaning of Christmas has been diluted through the years; how, somewhere along the way, we forgot what the true meaning of Christmas ought to be.

We have floated a Kindness for Christmas campaign in order to reach people who are in desperate need. People from all over the world have come forward to help the sick, the blind, the elderly, the disabled, children who have never had a pizza before, and those who have never been on an outing.

All of the images that you see spotted around this extra special Christmas mailer are from people who have donated to these causes or those who have benefitted from their donations. To understand the campaign, better, please feel free to visit Remedia Trust on Facebook.

Christmas Today

You can really guess where I am going with this. Because no matter where you go, a common theme stands out during this season: the commercialization of the holidays.

Everywhere you look, people are busy writing down Christmas shopping lists and working themselves up over what gift to fetch their loved ones, a friend or colleague; the mass media is awash with a barrage of advertisements that kick in weeks before the season; and every shop (online or brick-and-mortar) is adorned with Christmas offers and holiday decorations.

There is a reason Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest shopping days of the year and they keep getting bigger, recording year-on-year turnover increase. It was the same tune in 2016, a year during which, according to Adobe Digital Insights, saw the two days smash online sales records.

What’s my point?

The holiday season has become so commercialized that you cannot go anywhere without spotting some sales and ‘Holiday Deal!’ sign on store windows; neither can you those oh-so-ubiquitous Santa decorations meant to put you in the ‘festive spirit’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against season decorations, or Santa bath mats and soap dispensers, or the Elf on the Shelf. It’s just that the marketing gimmick has become so commonplace that it has successfully managed to suck us in on the materialistic side of things. And in the process, we often forget to take the time to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.

So deep have we been sucked in that we are raising a generation of kids who grow up knowing that the holidays are a time to pamper ourselves and engage in all the sweet little trifles this life has to offer. If we are not breaking budgets shopping, we are engaged in bland office or neighbourhood parties.

If we are not travelling to some destination halfway across the world, we are downing glasses of wine alongside crockpots of meatballs.

I know I sound like Ebenezer Scrooge right now and you are probably feeling sorry for me. But take it from me, there is a lot of magic and contentment and wonder without the commercialization so apparent these days.

By all means, the holidays are a great time to treat oneself.

But when it becomes such a big deal to the point we start wearing Christmas jumpers right after Halloween, or we start feeling embarrassed when we cannot afford presents, or it results to demanding and ungrateful children, then sorry to say, but it is time to realize that it is all superficial (and a little bit silly).

Spending countless days wallowing about that perfect Christmas that Hollywood has painted in our minds, and breaking the bank on unnecessary purchases in the name of Christmas just shows how much we have forgotten to appreciate the simplicity of it all. It has become all about glitz and glam, and less about the actual meaning.

The True Spirit of Christmas

I know, I’m not supposed to be lecturing you on how best to spend your holidays – whatever floats your boat. But take a moment to remind yourself…

The reason Christians all over the world celebrate this day is to mark the birth of Jesus Christ who ultimately died for our sins. What he did was a selfless act, as were much of his actions while he was a resident here on earth. And here is the catch. While Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is also a day to reflect on what he did.


Jesus helped the less fortunate people in society: the poor, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, the outcasts. He helped anyone who needed his help without any conditions. The Christian doctrine advocates for love of thy neighbour, as we do ourselves. While this has become somewhat of a cliché in this modern world we live in, it is time we started showing kindness to the less privileged in society. Just as our religion preaches.

While there are many philanthropic efforts happening every day in all corners of the world as we speak, let us not treat this as a task we need to cross off our lists so we can feel good about ourselves. It’s never about us. The world is still plagued with poor people (financially speaking), as it is with people who have no guarantee of a meal every rising sun. Homeless folk. Sick children. Lonely souls, you name them.

While we go about our holiday shopping sprees and spoil our loved ones with gifts galore, let’s take a moment to reflect on how it feels like to be in the shoes of the less fortunate out there. Let us remind ourselves that just because we can afford unnecessary purchases and costly trips, not everyone can. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the true spirit of Christmas is not to lose ourselves in the sea of novelty items, but it is all about simple sharing.

And if we cannot do it at any other time of the year, then Christmas presents just the perfect time to donate, feed and spend some time with those who are lonely and homeless, as we also appreciate the loved ones that surround us.

‘Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.’ – Peg Bracken

Christmas is long but passed, but as we start the new year, let us not forget there will be another holiday season this year. And the one after that. And as is the norm, the commercial aspect of it will be a part of it. A big part of it – even bigger than the occasion itself.

You could be forgiven for getting caught up in it all, considering commercially, Christmas is a way to make money and it has been made to look like this is what the holiday is all about.

I’ll say it again, I’m not out to spoil the party. Certainly, go on and wholeheartedly enjoy yourself when the next season rolls around.

But while you are at it, don’t forget that there is more to Christmas than the expensive gifts and sparkling lights.

‘He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.’ – Roy L. Smith

Something as simple as dishing out candy to a kid on the street will change their Christmas for the better. And so will yours through the simple joy we get from sharing with or helping the less fortunate.

And it needs not be as expensive.

Food for thought.

We wish you a Blessed Christmas and a successful yet thoughtful year ahead.

Jillian Haslam

Bringing Hope to Those in Despair and Poverty In My country – India

The World Has Forgotten Them, But I Haven’t. Have You?

What would your life be like if you had to sleep every night a few steps from a public water spout? This is where poor street people come to bathe and wash dishes. Or what if you lived near a sewer hole?

When I was a child, my sister nearly fell into a smelly sewer hole that went far underground. She held on by white-knuckled fingertips until my father raced from our home not far away to pull her out.

I lived this way for most of my childhood. Many today in India still do.


Extreme poverty is nothing new in India.

Urban slums like those in Calcutta, where I grew up, still ‘raise’ countless children who know nothing but hunger, filth, crime, desperation, and broken families. They grow up being written off by higher castes, not given opportunities, and living in conditions that would make most people sick.

How Extreme Poverty Infects Generations

When everyone lives like this, how does it affect a city? It affects every generation. It affects the day to day life, and the long term health of the community.

That’s why in Calcutta today you’ll see skinny hungry children, and skinny hungry elderly people. You’ll see disabled people who can barely move fending for themselves on the streets. You’ll see grown men, young and old, pulling rickshaws for 12/14 hours a day and barely surviving on their wages.

Because they can barely sustain their own lives and those of their children, these men often can’t support their old aged parents or relatives. That’s one reason so many elderly and disabled get abandoned. It’s not always because people don’t care. Sometimes, they simply can’t afford to care.

For the same reason, if a kid gets sick with a disease like tuberculosis or thalassemia and all the complications those lead to if left untreated, their parents have nowhere to turn.

Because I grew up in this, I know it through my entire being. I didn’t just see it while on holiday. I lived it. I know the smells, the sounds, and the feeling of an always empty stomach.

And that’s why today, I’ve made it my life mission to help the people living in the place I grew up. My work for Remedia has two major branches:

  • Meeting Immediate Needs
  • Changing Long Term Outlooks

Meeting Immediate Needs – Survival and Community

To meet immediate needs, we have three charities – one for children, one for the disabled, and one for the aged.

Our work with children covers everything – education, disease treatment, nourishment, and medical help. Whatever they need to have a chance at a better life, we try and provide.

We get them extra school help and supplies if their regular schools don’t help them (which is common if they’re in lower castes).


We help them get blood transfusions and treatments for diseases that would otherwise cripple their futures.

We help kids with autism learn and grow in ways they respond to. We help blind kids and those suffering with cerebral palsy and so on.

For the disabled and the elderly we have two separate charities, but both have a similar mission – keep people alive who have been abandoned or forgotten because they were too hard to care for. We give them food, teach them crafts, and give them a safe place to come and make new friends.

Changing Long Term Outlooks

Immediate needs are about saving lives. We simply want to keep people alive. But that’s not enough. We also want to remake the whole society that continues to produce this kind of suffering.

The E3 Job Growth program takes young people ages 14-30 who want something better out of life, and gives them a chance to get there. We teach job skills, life skills, public speaking skills, hygiene, and so much more to help young people who want better jobs.

We’ve helped dozens of young people get placed in jobs like hotel work, which is so much better than the backbreaking work of pulling rickshaws. Plus, it has a future. But to get there, they need help with their self-presentation and much more. And we need relationships with people in the business community to give our trainees their first chance at these better jobs.

E3 stands for Education, Empowerment, and Employability. And that’s what we’re starting to do for young men and women in Calcutta. As our program grows, we hope to expand it to other cities.

Lastly, we have a program that teaches young women how to protect themselves. Ayesha Noor, a 3-time gold medalist in karate, teaches karate to girls aged 8-20. India remains a very unsafe place for young women, and Ayesha’s first goal is to empower them with skills to defend themselves, because often no one else will.

Her second goal is to give them self-confidence that will spread to the other areas of their lives. Many of the girls in Ayesha’s karate classes are also in our E3 and children’s programs. So while we have five branches to our work, they are connected and have one central mission – to lift up the extreme poor from every generation.

If we weren’t there, many of these kids, young people, disabled, and aged people would starve, wither, have no hope for the future, and in some cases just die alone.

Do You Want to Help the People of India?

You’ve seen a bit of what I do in India, and why I do it. But these kids, women, disabled, and elderly need your help.

I would greatly appreciate your partnership with Remedia Trust.

If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the Remedia Trust website. Here are two ways you can take action:

Find out more about each of the five charities.

Give – choose any of the five charities you want to support.

Thank you for reading about this part of my life that is more important than any other.

‘Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit – Eli Khamarov’

Seated at a Business Class Lounge, waiting to catch my next flight, I couldn’t help but notice how a lady there just picked up every tray & bowl and emptied the contents into a bin. Tears just filled my eyes and so I walked upto her and asked. Are you seriously going to throw all that food away? She answered – Yes Ma’am, the food has hardly been touched and we aren’t allowed to keep it so unfortunately, it’s time to set up the next course for the day!!

I sat back in my seat and thought ‘What a weary time those years were – to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.’

Charles Bukowski must have had me in mind when he penned these words in his book titled Ham on Rye. For they are words that describe the kind of childhood I endured. A childhood during which all that was guaranteed was neither a daily meal nor a place to sleep; but the air I breathed. And even that would come under constant threat from time to time.

The worst thing about it is that I – like millions of others who have and continue to endure the kind of difficult poverty-stricken life that my family and I went through – do not have much control over the circumstances we are born in.

Eli Khamarov put it best when he said:

‘Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.’


It’s a bad and unfortunate situation to find oneself in. And the worst thing about poverty is that it is really hard to escape its shackles.

Hold my hand

Speaking for myself, I can say that the kind of childhood I went through shaped the person I am today. I have been fortunate – through the help of many people along the way – to realise and be living proof that a person’s whole life cannot be determined by the situation in which they are born.

Of course, it’s an unfortunate card to wield such that it would be an understatement to say that life is tough being born and growing under such unfortunate circumstances. But the beauty of life is that no situation is permanent: and we can change our fortune. We may not do it singlehandedly – and I am yet to meet or hear of anyone who has – so if we are lucky we will meet good Samaritans along the way to lend a helping hand.


My life story is a winding tale and delving into it would take an entire book.

So allow me to compress it into a few words by saying that the first half of it was mostly characterised by destitution. But it’s a half that directly had a bearing on the second part of my life, and I’ll tell you why. Had I not gone through what I went through in my younger years, I am not so sure I would be doing what I do today.

Your Brother’s Keeper

It’s an amazing feeling just thinking about it: from growing up on the streets myself to helping kids going through the kind of deprived childhood that I went through by setting up a charity not just for them, but also other underprivileged members of society: the old, the disabled, women in need and so on…..

A kind of feeling that would be hard to describe in words other than just to say it brings sheer joy into my heart knowing that I can help transform someone’s life positively.

This was actually the motivation behind my establishing the various charities, all of which are married in a way with the National Speakers Academy because I’m all too aware that feeding fish to the needy in itself is not enough. We need to teach them how to catch fish as that is the most surefire way to ensure they make something of themselves and go on to change the world in their own small ways.

I have been blessed with an incredible team that helps me teach these disadvantaged members of society how to fish by ensuring they get a formal education. And not just that: we also make it a point of imparting upon them one of the most potent tools for success in the 21st century: public speaking skills.

Hidden Gem

As a multinational corporate and inspirational speaker, it is not lost on me that it is this one skill that helped unearth the potential that lay within me as an individual.

It is a skill, if perfected, that unlocks virtually every other aspect of a person’s life – and does so in a most positive way. In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful gifts anyone can ever offer you.

After all, when all is said and done, we are all human beings, and the least we could do is to share, to care and to give. For what good is it if you can’t help others?

Muhammad Yunus captured it best by writing these glorious words:

‘Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They’ll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society – how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.’

Let’s be human – it is the greatest joy of all.