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Welcome to Karunai Illam

The Karunai Illam Trust is a New Zealand incorporated charitable trust. It was set up to support the work of Jean Watson, a Wellington writer, who in 1987  established a children’s home in Nilakottai, Tamil Nadu, south India.

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Illam Fundraising Dinner!!!

Illam Fundraising Dinner

Authentic Indian Vegetarian meal

Tickets $25 Adults, $10 Children.

Saturday 18 June, at the Indian Cultural Centre, 48 Kemp St, Kilbirnie

Two dinner time options 5.30pm (and out at 7pm) or 7.30pm (and finish at 9pm)

More details to follow, but for now …. Save The Date of Sat 18 June and start thinking about getting a group together to attend this event and support our charity.


KIT at the Wellington Diwali Festival 2015!
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KIT at the Wellington Diwali Festival 2015!

A promotional stall was held at the Wellington Diwali Festival event on 26 October. Many thanks to the helpers in the picture (R-L: Rieko, Nithya, Vidthia, Sharmila). We had a number of other regular supporters assisting us on the day to take turns running the stall, these included Ray & Geraldine, Beth, Naena & Ray, Bhagee and Pravin. Many hands make light work and was definitely more fun, with everyone enjoying their time talking to passers-by about their experience with the Illam. A number of donations were received on the day as a result and various items for sale (Illam tea towels, purses and cards designed by the children and provided by Angela, and necklaces from Shobita). All up around $700 was raised. Every bit counts!!


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Recent events at Nilakottai!!

Two rather significant and wonderful events that took place at Nilakottai over the last few months!

The first was the inauguration of the new girls hostel on the garden land! This marks a major milestone for completing phase one of the new complex. A simple and memorable event was held on 21st August with special poojas (prayers) attended by local dignitaries, well-wishers and former students. A few days later, the girls and staff moved into their new ‘home’ and it seems that everyone is falling in love with the new place. This shift is significant as it symbolizes the realization of one part of Jean’s dream. We can now get on with planning and fund raising for phase two – the new boys hostel – and actively seek to realize the second part of Jean’s dream.

The other event was the opening of the Jean Watson Memorial Hall on 29th June. The Hall is an auditorium/hall on the top floor of the Karunai DHAN nursery and primary school. The space is to be used as a spillover space for teaching with some space partitioned for a small potted garden.  The opening was a memorable event and guests from as far as Madurai attended the event.  The school children performed prayers and dances.  There were many thanks and tributes to Jean and in particular, the principal Mr Raghavan, noted that the idea of setting up of the school was inspired by Jean and only made possible with her efforts and blessings.   


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Our children's home is called DHAN Karunai Illam. The DHAN Foundation is our Partner organisation and the word DHAN stands for Development for Humane Action. Karunai means Grace, and Illam is Home.



Tamil Nadu, India

Nilakottai, Tamil Nadu

(Click to view maps)