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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.


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...



Rieko Woodford-Robinson Prints For Sale

For a brief time we have a wonderful collection of Giclée prints for sale donated by local Wellington artist and long term Karunai Illam supporter, Rieko. Influenced by pop surrealism and the Old Masters of the 17th century, Rieko's work has gained quite a following within Wellington.

Prints are available for sale in the online Shop. Enquiries are welcome.

We also have a collection of handmade wooden necklaces, curtesy of Shobita Jones. Shobita is a supporter and fundraiser of the Illam. Her works are also available in the online Shop, and she makes personalised necklaces upon request.

All proceeds from these sales will go towards the Building Project.


Call for Building Project Fundraising - July 2014 and December 2014 deadlines

Dear all,

As at late February 2014, the new hostel for the Girls together with the kitchen, dining and other common areas, which is called “Phase 1” of the project to build a new Illam for the children is more than half-finished!   There has been a burst of building activity, and progress is now very rapid.

Completing Phase 1 is likely to cost approx. NZ$180,000 - shared between our NGO partner in India (DHAN) and Karunai IllamTrust NZ (KIT).

The Phase 1 work may be completed by the end of July 2014.

KIT’s share of the Phase 1 cost is around NZ$103,000.  If we have not sent all of that amount by the end of July 2014, the completion of the Girl’s hostel may be delayed!

From past fundraising and expected regular donations, after making regular payments for the children’s living and educational expenses, KIT is likely to have enough to send $88,000 for the new building by then. This means we need to raise an additional $15,000 for Phase 1 by the end of July 2014.

As well, building the Boys’ hostel (Phase 2 of the project) needs to be funded. Phase 2 will commence once Phase 1 is completed, and KIT’s share of costs for Phase 2 are estimated to be NZ$60,000. Phase 2 costs will be confirmed once the building plans are confirmed and signed off between DHAN architects and KIT.

We need to raise $15,000 for Phase 1 by July 2014 and approx $60,000 for Phase 2 by December 2014, a total of $75,000. Those who carry out fundraising towards the building project (e.g movie fundraisers, charity dinners, walkathons, Living Below The Line, PledgeMe) will be recognised in some form to reflect their effort and funds raised.

Click here to find out more about the building project and be sure to share this with your friends and colleagues.

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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)