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In the ancient city of Varanasi all the families supported by TIG belong to the Mallah caste, one of the lowest in India’s social and economic caste pyramid. Mallah men are the boatmen of the Ganges, and their families sell souvenirs on the concrete steps (ghats) that line the river. It’s a precarious existence. For the past three years COVID has eliminated or reduced tourism. Annually the monsoons cause flooding so the boats can’t go on the river. When that happens, the families rely on TIG to send money for food until they can return to work.

TIG’s largest extended family (27 in all) belong to Varanasi’s Mallah caste. Twenty-two

of them live together in a compound of small dark rooms surrounding an open courtyard filled with goats, chickens, and family cooking fires. Three brothers and their wives, a single brother, the mother of the brothers, and a combined fourteen children (ten of them girls) ranging in age from six months to sixteen live there. A sister lives with her husband and their three children on a nearby ghat.

All the children but the newborn attend a nearby private school. The younger children receive tutoring and the older specialized coaching in the subjects they’re weakest in.

TIG pays for school, tutoring, and coaching as well as transportation, uniforms and school supplies. Education has changed the children’s expectations of themselves and we’re beginning to see the payoff in the older children. The girls are not being married off while still young teenagers. They’ve been exposed to other possibilities including careers and college. The boys are considering jobs outside the low-paid Mallah caste work.

It's not just the children who have changed. Govinda, the oldest brother and father of seven, became the family patriarch with the death of his father two years ago. He is the most traditional father in TIG, originally wanting his six daughters married at a young age and continuing to have children until his first son was finally born this year. The support from TIG has reduced the economic pressures that force families to marry off their daughters. TIG has also given Govinda leadership responsibilities regarding the children’s education. We rely on him to make sure all the children attend school, to find tutors, to secure space for tutoring sessions, and to coordinate the children’s transportation. Investing in Govinda’s leadership has invested him in the value of school for his six daughters.

Your contributions have made this happen, changing the fate of this low caste family and, in particular, its daughters whose futures are filled with more possibilities. 


Saturday, December 2, 2023


In Manhattan, New York

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