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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.

Karunai Illam - Dhan school expansion - construction begins!

Karunai Illam - Dhan school expansion - construction begins!

On 23 February 2012 considered an auspicious day the ground breaking ceremony for the new extension work was performed. The attached photos show Mr Raghavan (Ragi) our principal doing the pooja (prayers) with the young ones from the primary school joining in. A bore well has also been dug and water was struck at about 500 feet. So its all go now for the construction work! We'll keep you posted on this but appears work is on track to enable new intake for the next academic year. 

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  • Karunai Illam - Dhan school expansion - construction begins!

Wellington Artists help reach $15000 fund raising target!

Wellington Artists help reach $15000 fund raising target!

On 10 February the Wellington Artists helped raise $4000 for the Karunai-DHAN school expansion. This was a follow-up event to the funding campaign kicked off by Danny and Fish with their spectacular video. Our special thanks to the creative collaborative that made this possible: Shobita Jones, Ruth Dudgale, Joleen Coervers, Sam Gruenwald, Arlo Edwards, Andy Ellis, Kura Scott, Isobelle Thomas, Patricia Cribb and Will McTavish. And the Pemberton family. Photo credit Arthur Chan.

Thanks also to the contribution of artworks from the following wonderful artists: Michael Farr,Tamara Jones,Trisha Cribb, Arlo Edwards, Simon Matthews, Melissa Cowan, Phyo Thu, Steve Hutt, Jones Das, Daniel Foothead, Ben Bradley, Rosie Rubyfox, Amanda Gruenwald, Luke Whitten.

The event was a great fun evening courtesy Drew Coleman owner of Betty’s Bar, Wellington who kindly provided the venue and a special music performance by Thomas Oliver and Tim Porter.  

2012 Greetings! Karunai-DHAN school expansion news.

2012 Greetings! Karunai-DHAN school expansion news.

Happy New Year! Our nursery and primary school started in 2008 has grown over six-fold in enrolment numbers since then. The success of the school has generated a strong demand from the Nilakottai community for quality affordable education for more students and to include higher classes. To meet this need, we along with DHAN are seeking to build additional classrooms and amenities in the existing school site. This could be the first phase of the school's future expansion.

Danny Pemberton a young New Zealander was recently at the Illam and has created this incredible video to help raise funds for the school expansion project. It would be fantastic if all of our supporters could circulate this as widely as possible among friends and family to help make this dream school come true!


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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)