Kolkata, India is a vastly overcrowded city. Estimates put the population at 4.5 million within the city core and up to 14 million in the suburbs. Housing is a huge problem, and many families that can’t afford to pay rent are forced to live in slum huts on the streets. Many children go without education due to lack of resources and support.
Struck by the depth of need she saw in the Kolkata slums—especially among women caught in the cycle of poverty—the late Lorraine Chen, a Fellowship International missionary, established KHRIS, a program designed to come alongside young women and assist them in gaining an education. Once educated, these women would have the skills needed to find employment and build a future for themselves and their families away from the slums.
The KHRIS (Kolkata Hope Rising in the Slums) program has been successful in helping these young women progress in their education even though they still live in the slums with all the obstacles and distractions of living on the streets. Lorraine dreamed of being able to provide accommodations to those girls who were able to graduate and find employment. Many landlords charge up to a year’s rent in advance as a deposit before renting a unit. This poses a problem for those young women who have graduated but are still living in the slums as they would have to remain there while they save up for a rent deposit. Slum-living does not provide the opportunity for personal hygiene and protection for personal belongings while away from their slum hut during the day.
Before her death in September 2017, Lorraine sought to find a way to provide housing for the young women in the KHRIS program in a way that would continue to empower them for their future. Lorraine’s husband, Jack, also a Fellowship International missionary, has committed to seeing Lorraine’s dream realized. As a result, FAIR is seeking to raise $40,000 to help acquire accommodation that will serve as a safe home for the graduates of KHRIS while they save towards a rent deposit.
The young women would pay an affordable “rent”, which would actually be saved for each of them in trust funds to eventually be used as an advanced down-payment for a rental unit. This would help them to save for the required deposit while also teaching them the rhythms of paying for their own rent – something they’ve never done before.
Through Hope Rising, FAIR seeks to make Lorraine’s dream a reality and assist these young women as they learn to stand on their own two feet.