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Reports & Stories


Freedom for Girls, Well-Being for a Lifetime

NehaIn 2018, it seemed unlikely that Neha, then a 15 year-old girl from Fakir Bagan, a slum community on the outskirts of Kolkata, would have a say over her future. Neha’s grandmother, the matriarch of her family, had already decided that grade 12 would be the end of Neha’s education — a choice that would likely set her on the path for early marriage and motherhood.

That all changed when Neha joined the Calcutta Kids Adolescent Girls Program (Ashayein). Through our program, she learned about the importance of education, being financially independent, and setting personal goals. She felt motivated to change the course of her life and, with the help of our program leaders, she sparked that same motivation in her mother. Together, they convinced Neha’s grandmother to allow Neha to continue her education.

Our Adolescent Girls Program cultivates a sense of opportunity, self-worth, and self-reliance. Participants learn life lessons and skills related to nutrition, menstruation, delaying pregnancy, recognizing abuse, self-defense, and more. We get women professionals in medicine, law enforcement, education, and engineering to talk about their careers. And this year, given community interest, we started the program with a second cohort of girls.

“I saved my close friend from a cyber crime abuser. With the help of the Calcutta Kids support team, I learned how to handle the situation. ” — Soni, Ashayein program participant

Calcutta Kids’ investment in adolescent girls also lays the foundation for their health in adulthood — and the health of their future families.

Investing in adolescent girls is one of the most powerful ways to improve maternal and child health outcomes. We started the Adolescent Girls Program when pregnant women and new moms told us they wished they had had information about health, nutrition, and family planning much earlier. It makes sense; with the right knowledge and skills, girls can develop into healthier women, have healthier pregnancies, deliver healthier babies, and raise healthier children.

Through our Maternal Health Program, Calcutta Kids directly supports the health of pregnant women and their babies.

We provide pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum services and counseling that most women in Fakir Bagan would otherwise not receive. As a result, pregnant women in our program are far more likely than other local women (Non-CK) to have healthy birth weight babies. Birth weight is a proxy for overall health and well-being, and a higher birth weight is associated with better outcomes.

Low Birth Weights

Our Child Health Program helps young children thrive.

We provide young children with supplementary nutrition, specialized medical care, growth monitoring, diarrhea treatment, and other services to combat malnutrition and support growth. So it’s not surprising that malnutrition among children in our program has trended down from 2009 to 2022. In India, malnutrition is a major cause of death among children under 5 years old.


Calcutta Kids’ holistic approach works.

We’ve lowered rates of death and chronic disease among mothers and babies, helped break the cycle of intergenerational malnutrition, and guided adolescent girls to come into their power.

Neha, by the way, is now in her second year of undergraduate college. She wants to become a lawyer, and she has a slogan she now lives by: “The goal we set should not be abandoned under any circumstances.” Following Neha’s wisdom, we recommit to our own goal to uplift women, children, and adolescent girls in Fakir Bagan.

Thank you for joining us in this commitment and for making this goal possible.
Please continue to give generously to support our important work in 2024 and beyond.

We and the 770 families we work with in Fakir Bagan are so grateful for your generosity.

With warmest holiday wishes and many thanks,

Evangeline Ambat & Noah Levinson
Evangeline Ambat & Noah Levinson
Co-Directors, Calcutta Kids