The Umeed Centre

Action Aid

Husti In Partnership With Action Aid India




The Problem

During the 19th century an area known as Dabhoi in Gujarat was the foundation for a great Cotton Exporting empire. From the Soneshwar Gin (cotton farm) was exported hundreds of tonnes of raw materials to many corners of the world and trade flourished. Thanks, in part, to this industry, Dabhoi Railway Station was at one time the largest narrow-gauge railway track in Asia. The Gin would feed on average 200 workers a day with Lunch and provide mass employment in an otherwise poor & rural part of India. The empire was built by a courageous entrepreneur of the 19th century.

Sadly, over time the 200 year old business began to fail and over time the collapse of the empire became inevitable. As the company passed through the generations, many descendants began to lose interest and what was once a place of life, vibrancy, youth and energy was reduced to a single stone structure on a few hundred metres of land.

The Gin became home to my Grandma (Tarlika) who lived there during UK Winter Months to avoid the cold and keep in touch with the family. This kept the property and all that it stood for alive, though only a shadow of its former glory. On her recent death, the property was inherited by the trustees of Husti. With renewed efforts and great energy a new direction was sought for Gin. The vision was to create a place of joy & happiness which would help children achieve their dreams. Like the great entrepreneurs of the time, these children come from the same place and deserve every opportunity to succeed.

Preventing children from dropping out of school is difficult. This is an on-going project which Husti aids through its current initiatives. As aspect of drop out that is also crucial is to help those children who have already left. These children cannot simply re-enroll as they will have missed years of education as well as key exams. They often have to re-join at younger years and as a result are unable to form strong friendships and peer groups that will help them in school & beyond.

The Solution

Husti, together with ActionIndia, have established the Umeed Centre in the Gin, for education re-habilitation and re-entry into conventional school systems. The centre is committed to tackling the challenges of drop out and running classes that offer accelerated learning programs so children are able to rejoin school at the correct age group. The running costs of this centre are £6,000 / year of which Husti has committed 50% every year.