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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.


Progress of the Film

We are very happy to say the film is going very well. Screenings so far have been fully booked. It will be returning for general release in September.

On the 22nd of September, Gerard Smyth and Jean leave for India to show it  to the people of Nilakottai.  In Chennai they will meet up with Jan who worked on the sound for the filming in India.

More interesting events to raise money to finish our building project are in the pipe line, so watch this space.  Phase 1: the girl’s room, all the facilities like kitchen, dining room and ablutions blocks are nearly finished. Currently work on the fencing of the whole property is underway.


Aunty and the Star People

Filmmaker Gerard Smyth has completed this outstanding full-length documentary about the life of Jean and her work with the children. It is screening in the NZ International Film Festival in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Hawkes Bay, Tauranga and Hamilton.

See the trailer and find a screening near you on the nziff site.

It will help Jean’s and the Trust’s work if you let your friends know about the film and the Karunai Illam Trust website.  Apart from Jean’s travel costs and other incidental expenses, no-one is paid as all work for the Trust in NZ is through volunteers; over 90% of all donations to the Trust is sent to the home and children in India.


Building Progress Update

The new Girl's Hostel Building in Nilakottai, Tamil Nadu, is now in its final stages of development. The building is looking great! Some great looking pictures are shown below, and more pictures are available. Next steps are to equip the building, including dining hall, purchase of vessels, and to get ready for the girls to move in.

As always, check out the Building Project page for more details and for donation options.

Front view of new Girl's Hostel building...

Builders make final touches in dormitory...

Builders at work...


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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)