Page width Text size

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.


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.   

October 2014 notes from Jean

October 2014 notes from Jean

Notes from Jean since arriving at Nilakottai in late September 

9 October 2014 

On the 24th September, the film crew; Gerard and Jan and I arrived in Nilakottai to show the film to the children. A screening in our school across the road was arranged for the next day: the 25th which happens to be our Anniversary Day. It went very well indeed, the Illam people were so excited. Present were more or less just the children and Illam staff, our x children, the local doctor, the president of the residents association, and one or two parents. Gerard said that it was the best audience he’d so far had!

He had been a bit concerned that any people left out might have been disappointed, not so, every child got shown even if briefly and all were delighted and had a good laugh at themselves in the appropriate places. It was a lovely occasion, the speeches were few and short and tea was handed round.

Now, here I am, delighted to be in Nilakottai after year’s absence. I have seen the latest in the progress of our new building: the installing of the Dewatts waste management system.  Waste water is processed through a series of tanks and becomes irrigation water for our gardens.

Although over the months, the other Trustees and I have been kept well informed on the building progress by email, phone calls and photos – but nothing matches seeing the actual building itself. It is spacious and elegant, plenty of windows and a wide entrance.  Our team leader Gomathi Murugan expects it to be ready for the girls to move into before I leave on the 20th of December.  I think he is optimistic, for much remains to be done.  But all well worth waiting for.

New Illam Building Project

7 August 2014.           Exciting news!    The first phase of building a new Illam building for both boys and girls nears completion.  The building of the girls hostel and common facilities area suchas for kitchen and dining has now been completed!  All that remains before the girls can move in is to fit them out and complete vital services and fencing. 

Check out our Building Project page for more information and to see how you can help.


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.

Page 3 of 10First   Previous   1  2  [3]  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  Next   Last   

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)