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The Karla Farm families -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Karla Farm families

Muktabai and Dnyandev

The Kadam family is shown outside their two-room duplex unit, which is next to a chicken housing facility.

Thirty-two years ago, Muktabai Gyandev Kadam and her husband Dnyandev came to Karla Farm, a poultry business, and moved into a one-room house furnished by their employer. For more than 30 years, that is where they lived and raised their six children. It was only in the last two years that Muktabai and Dnyandev and their two youngest children, 24-year-old twins, moved into a two-room house. In five years, when Dnyandev retires, they will have to move.

“What can we think about our future? When he (Dnyandev) retires we must go,” said Muktabai. Asked if they would go back to their home community, she said, “Our whole life is here; we can’t go back.” They have a small piece of land in Malvandi and return there to grow vegetables. It is one and a half hours to travel by bus. But there is no work available in Malvandi, so they cannot return there to live.

By applying for a house, Muktabai said, “We are looking out for our own home; we want a home of our own.”

Dnyandev feeds chickens, collects eggs, and operates a machine to process chicken feed. Muktabai cleans the water dispensers and feeds the birds. They are paid very little, so they have depended on free housing.

“We are poor and it was hard for us to take care of many children,” said Muktabai. “We were only able to educate our son; the girls had very little education. For him to go to school, he had to stay at his father’s sister’s house.” It was too expensive for their son Babu to get transportation to school from their home.

Babu is a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He is searching for an office job. He has experience in data entry and hopes to work with computers. If they move to the JCWP site he will be very close to the Malvali train station and could even take a job in Pune, a one-hour train ride away. There are many more jobs available there. But for now, he is looking for any job, anywhere.

Muktabai has been a member of a self-help group since it started one and a half years ago. She saves 100 rupees a month. She is committed to saving so that they can use it in the future. She took a 2,000-rupee loan once to cover household expenses when they gave Dnyandev’s salary to their daughter to pay for an operation for her husband.

Vijay and Sangita

The Sable and Balgude families stand before their current housing, which is composed of tin sheets and too small for their needs. Left to right: Sangita, Vijay and Aniket Sable; Sagar, Chhaya, Eknath and Sameer Balgude.

Vijay Shankar Sable was a street child in Bombay who gravitated to the Lonavala area looking for work. The chicken farm offered housing as well as work, which appealed to Vijay. He stayed and married Sangita, a local resident. For eight years, Vijay and Sangita have lived in the one-room housing furnished by Karla Farm for eight years. Sangita and Vijay have two sons, ages 3 and 8.

Vijay feeds and cares for the chickens and collects eggs. Sangita does construction work when she can get a job. Her work day is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and she earns about 60 rupees. For most of the work day she carries dirt, sand, cement, rocks or bricks from place to place by balancing a pan-load on her head. She takes the children with her to work where the older son takes care of his younger brother.

Sangita has been in the Karla Farm savings group from the beginning. She has borrowed and already paid back a 1,500- rupee loan.

Chhaya and Eknath

“The main reason we work for Karla Farm is because they furnish housing. We want our own home to ensure a better future for our sons,” said Chhaya Eknath Balgude. She and her husband Eknath Gulab Balgude have worked hard to see that their two boys get an education.

The location of the JCWP site near the Malvali train station offers a great opportunity for their son Sagar to get a job. At 17, he studied one year beyond 12th standard and received a diploma in computer hardware. His younger brother Sameer is a good student, and is currently in the 10th standard.

Chhaya does housework in a doctor’s kitchen. Eknath is the night watchman at Karla Farm. During the day, he does the housework while she goes to work outside.

“If we are able to get a new home, we will work hard to make payments; it is our hope for the future,” said Eknath.