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Update December 2022

Mark and Liz Stephen visited Trichy and Karun in August 2022 and received a warm welcome after no visits for three years because of COVID restrictions.  They were pleased that they were able to reconnect with staff, students, the local community and their leaders to learn how badly they had been affected during this difficult time. It was also a good opportunity to find out what the school and local people need during this period of recovery. The school is still not at its full capacity after the long Covid break. Maintaining strong relationships with local partners is crucial to the continued success of the school and they were able to thank everyone who supported the Karun community.


The State has a strong commitment to improve educational opportunities for all children in rural and urban areas and this has led to the growth of local government-run schools. This is very much welcomed and needs to be acknowledged and taken into account as Karun plans for future growth and development.

The sewing classes for women and the IT classes for local children continue to be very successful. These classes are provided free of charge to local community and very much appreciated by the students. Karun has engaged a local tailor to run the sewing classes. They are fully subscribed and participants told Liz that the skills that they had learnt in the classes provided them with good opportunities for part time local work.  The classes take students from a beginner level basic hemming up to cutting and constructing blouses skirts and gowns. The students have access to a number of mechanical sewing machines and two new electrical machines were recently added for more advanced learners.


The IT classes for local children have a very good take up and this is provided whether or not they are enrolled in at Karun. They are taught by the daughter of the tailor who has just completed her degree that was partly funded by the Trust. These classes provide a good opportunity for the children to extend and develop their IT skills as well as an opportunity to meet their friends.

Mark and Liz met the six sponsored students that the Trust funds who are continuing their education outside of Karun School. The students come from very disadvantaged families who were badly affected by Covid and were struggling to continue their education. They visited their families, homes, and schools. The students and families were very appreciative of the support given by the Trust to help them continue their education. They said that they would never have been able to achieve what they are now achieving and certainly would not be able to see a future away from poverty. They now form part of the Karun community and the close relationships with the students and their families will continue to be supported and nurtured.

Mark and Liz also used their visit to discuss with local people and Karun staff how one can build on the success of recent initiatives to provide greater educational opportunities for the wider community.

The discussions were very much welcomed. Expanding community and adult education services will help to reach the widest group possible and establish Karun as a hub that serves the whole community.



Without the ongoing support of our donors, none of this support at Karun would be possible. A big thank you to everyone for your support. If anyone would like to know more about how to donate, please get in touch.

Update August 2022

We are looking to increase our support to students in further education. The support we provide varies according to home circumstances, the istitution they are studying and any bursaries.

  • It has been quite difficult to encourage very disadvantaged parents to continue the education of their children. Once they finish school they are expected to be family earners.

  • Tamilarasan and Immaculate keep in close touch with the schools and parents. 

  • We give the students clothes at festivals and sometimes financially help the parent also

  • In India, primary schools have standards (classes)  I-V,  Secondary have standards VI to X

Here are some details of students we are currently supporting

D successfully completed her BSc in Microbiology this year. We have been part funding her 3-year course. She has completed a number of IT courses. She is now teaching our weekend IT classes for the local community. We pay her for this. She is currently looking for a job. 

K's parents were going through a difficult time after Covid.  They could not pay the school fees. We pay (30%) school fees.

P is a single parent - Mother is a widow and very poor. Works as a building labourer. Lives in a hut on the roadside. She worked at Karun and asked for help as she could not afford the school fees. She has 2 girls and one boy.

We pay for her school fees, books and uniform. 

D is at the R C school in Trichy. We pay her school fees, books and uniform. The school fees increase as she moves up classes.

G Studied at our school in the past. Single parent - Mother is a labourer very poor. He is training to be an electrician - plenty of jobs going. We pay for 2nd year fees and books.


D Studied at our school in the past.

Mother is a flower seller on the main road from Trichy to Karun. Very poor. A bright girl who will benefit from a good secondary school with hostel. We are paying the fees which includes the hostel, uniform etc. We hope to support her for Higher Education.

D On a 2 year BCom degree course. Family poor. Mother works as a house maid. 

We pay 50% towards her college fees. 

Update May 2022

Karun school was closed for more than 19 months due to Covid and is now finally open. Many children have had no formal schooling for nearly two years. In this academic year alone because of a general lockdown in the State, children have missed more than six months of schooling.  This has had a devastating effect on the education of Karun children.

Covid has brought about many changes in schools and children homes.  The school at Karun has yet to return to its pre covid strength. At present children come to school in by a bus funded by Karun. They continue to get breakfast, a midday lunch and a snack before they return home. Families have very much welcomed this provision.  

Children who come to Karun are from disadvantaged backgrounds and many have poor basic skills. The school closure for such a long time has meant that they have fallen even more behind in their work. Although the government provided some on line lessons since as most families have no internet the children were unable to follow them. Teachers tried to help by visiting the children in their homes helping them to read and write. This year the Government is providing refresher classes and after school catch up classes. There are now plans to shorten the summer vacation to make up for the lost time. Teachers have welcomed these initiatives and have found that in particular the after school catch up classes are of great help to the children.

A new specialist IT teacher has been recently appointed to Karun’s teaching staff. The children now have more opportunity develop their IT skills and access the internet to support their learning whilst at school.  The school is very fortunate to have a dedicated computer room that was kindly donated by the Rotary Club of Loddon Vale.  

The sewing and information technology classes for the local community continue to be very popular and the numbers enrolling on these classes have been steadily growing. The sewing class take place 3 times a week and the IT class is at the weekend. Many of the girls have become very competent and some are looking to apply for jobs in textile companies.  

Over the past few years, the Trust has funded girls on nursing and teaching degree courses.  They have gained professional qualifications which has enabled them to get jobs very quickly and earn a good salary.  At present the Trust is funding two girls on degree courses. One boy who was sponsored to train as an electrician at a technical college, successfully completed his training and is now an apprentice in a large firm. Trustees continue to explore different ways to fund opportunities that encourage girls to access higher education. Two high achieving girls’ schools approached the trust to fund students from disadvantaged single parent families who were badly affected by Covid.  The Trust now funds two girls and with mentoring they will hopefully continue on to higher education. 

The garden project started by the ancillary staff during lockdown continues to thrive with good harvests of vegetables. More recently the growing of a cotton crop proved to be very successful.  They both provide a good income for Karun.   The children have been using the garden to support their work on the environment. 

The Breakthrough Trustees would like to thank everyone for their continued financial support during the difficult period of Covid. Your support enables us to make a difference to the lives of children and young people at Karun. 

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The Breakthrough Trustees very much appreciate your continued financial support during this very difficult period of Covid here and in India. Whilst the school is closed staff and the local administrator have had an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and consider the future direction of Karun. 


Trustees continue to be in regular contact with Karun and are well informed about the local Covid situation as well as Government arrangements for reopening schools.  In Tamilnadu although at present shops, transport and other public services are functioning there is great concern at the rising Covid numbers in the state and across India.

Karun still does not have any official information from the government on the date for the reopening of the school.  Normally the school year ends in April and reopens in the first week of June.  

All the teachers continue to come to school daily. Children who come to Karun from are from disadvantaged backgrounds and many do not have facilities to access any available online lessons.  During the week teachers travel to surrounding villages to visit children in their homes to give one to one coaching on the core subjects.  They have also provided text books so that children can continue their work until they see the teachers again. 

The government normally provides a free lunch for all school children but this has not been possible.  So, parents who are able to travel to the school collect the rice, eggs and other commodities from Karun.  For other children teachers take it with them when they make the weekly visit to their homes. 

Ancillary staff at Karun are busy with building maintenance and the successful new garden project. The vegetable plants, guava, coconut and lime trees planted in 2020 are thriving.  Aubergines, tomatoes, chillies and coriander leaves are now regularly harvested.  The local greengrocer purchases the vegetables and this provides an additional income for Karun.  When the school reopens the children will not only have fresh vegetables for their food but also an excellent practical environmental experience.  

The Trustees continue to work closely with Karun to explore vocational skills programmes that can be taught on the site whilst also supporting individuals on courses.  Karun’s popular weekend provision of IT and sewing classes for the women in the local community had to be stopped because of Covid.  Staff have for some time been considering a programme of vocational sewing classes that lead to a recognised certificate for young people.  This would enable them not only to learn valuable skills but also help them to either enter employment or set up a business of their own in a rapidly growing economy.  Following donations from individuals and the Rotary and Inner Wheel Clubs of Maiden Erlegh, Karun has been able to increase the number of sewing machines. A programme of 3 classes per week for 12 weeks has now started and sixteen young women have enrolled.  A local bank has been approached to provide advice to the students on how to set up a small business and where to access funding.  IT classes will be restarted soon.


Thank you again for all your tremendous support

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Non teaching staff paid by Karun continue to work on site and maintain the cleanliness and fabric of the buildings.  The school and hostel accommodation is cleaned regularly and the grounds are swept and kept weed free. Staff have also been busy planting and clearing the empty land at the back. The vegetables, coconut and lime trees are growing well.  

Community Provision - Karun staff arranged a meal for staff and representatives of the local community for Christmas 2020.  Karun’s popular community weekend provision of IT and sewing classes had to be stopped at the height of the Covid outbreak and village representatives requested that they should be restarted soon as possible.  The situation is much better now with very Covid cases in the local community and surrounding areas.  The administrator at Karun is liaising with officials to see whether the classes can be reinstated under the present restrictions.  Karun Staff continue their visits to surrounding villages to distribute food and support those in need and this is much appreciated by the villagers.

Looking at the Future - The Covid situation has dramatically increased the use of technology in all aspects of life and India is no different. Government requirements and restrictions relating to children's homes have made many institutions rethink their provision in and around Trichy.  Vocational skills development is a key area that is being promoted as there are many young people lacking the necessary skills to fill employment gaps such as IT jobs, electricians, plumbers, car mechanics nurses etc in a rapidly growing economy.  The Trustees are working very closely with Karun staff to consider how Karun can address the emerging and growing needs of surrounding communities. 



We have been in regular contact with Karun. India is going through a difficult time with an increase in Covid-19 virus cases. A number of states and parts of Tamilnadu have been affected.  We are glad that there seems to be very few cases in villages surrounding Karun and that it seems to be mainly the cities and large towns where the virus has spread. One of the reasons given is that many of the workers in Chennai (which was badly affected) returned to their home towns and have caused a spike in those areas.  Many local areas in these places have been put under lockdown with public services being curtailed and a curfew on the opening of shops. 


There continues to be much debate and uncertainty in Tamilnadu on the opening of schools.  At Karun the staff (who are being paid) have been busy tidying up the campus and grounds, making improvements to the facilities and developing an unused piece of land.  A bulldozer and tractor were hired to clear the land and make it ready for cultivating cash crops such as chillies and limes that can be sold in local markets.  A number of coconut tree saplings have also been planted.  Some of the staff continue to visit and support a nearby village where many have lost their daily labouring jobs and are going through great hardship.  


We will of course keep you informed of any developments when we get more definite news.  Thank you for your continued support through these very uncertain times


The Trust has been in in regular contact with staff in Karun during the Coronavirus outbreak in India. There are very few cases of the virus in Trichy but in April all schools and colleges, and all shops were closed.  Public transport was shut down and hotels and restaurants were closed.  Karun is closed but all the staff have been retained are being paid.  Unfortunately, our weekend sewing and IT classes for the village had to be also cancelled together with the summer school that had been all ready to start in May.  As in the UK there is much debate about the reopening of schools and colleges and speculation is that they will reopen in July.


Due to the coronavirus there is much hardship amongst the disadvantaged in villages as many are very reliant on labouring jobs to get a daily income to support their families.  The government is providing help but there is still much support that needs to be given. This has been a great concern as many of the children who come to Karun belong to such families. Therefore, staff at Karun have visited a remote village where many families had lost their jobs and with the agreement of local officials Karun provided 50 families a 10 kg bag of rice each. 

It is becoming clear that following the present crisis Karun has even a more vital role to play in providing disadvantaged families a place for their children where they can get food, clothing and education to improve their life chances.  

Karun working with the local community  - Newsletter March 2020

In 2007 the Breakthrough Trust (India) was established as a registered UK charity to fund educational projects such as Karun where children come from very poor families and where many are the first in their families to become literate. The campus at Karun has always aimed at providing a whole learning experience for children focusing on skills and experiences which will help them to compete in a rapidly changing India Karun is on the edge of a village in Tamilnadu, South India. There are about 5,000 people in the village and many of them are from disadvantaged families. The main occupation is working on farms and many travel some distance to find work. The village has a government primary and secondary school. 

Karun school works closely with the village primary and secondary school and there are regular visits by staff members. Last year Karun worked with village leaders to look at ways that the facilities on the campus can also be used to support the young people who live there. 

From November 2019 Karun started free weekend classes on Sundays in IT and sewing for local young people and adults in the community. They are both very well attended. The participants really value the opportunities to use Karun’s facilities and also the help and advice they are given. This additional cost is borne by the general Karun funding. 

The two areas of need that emerged were helping young people develop their IT skills and teaching sewing for girls and women. Many of the young people have to travel some distance to access IT classes and they are also expensive. Technology is an important part of the school curriculum in Tamilnadu but facilities are limited, particularly in rural areas, and children have few opportunities to support and develop their IT knowledge and skills. 

Karun has an excellent IT room with networked computers linked to the internet, TV’s in classrooms and a hall that is equipped with up to date audio visual facilities that were not being used all the time at weekends. 

From November 2019 Karun started free weekend classes on Sundays in IT and sewing for local young people and adults in the community. They are both very well attended. The participants really value the opportunities to use Karun’s facilities and also the help and advice they are given. This additional cost is borne by the general Karun funding. 


For the first time in May 2020 Karun is planning a summer school during the one month school holidays for young people. Initially short courses will be offered by experienced teachers in spoken English, IT, sewing and music. 


We continue to promote further and higher education for disadvantaged young people and are at present supporting Raghu and Delphin. In April 2020 Raghu, a former Karun student will complete his three-year course at a residential technical college to become an electrician. He has very good opportunities to become employed in the car industry or local electrical firms. 

The trustees would like to thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. Your donations enables us to make a difference to the lives of children and young people at Karun and gives them real hope for a better future. Thank you! 

This is Kannaga a former student of Karun, with her family. The Trust funded her to become a qualified teacher. She now works at a neighbouring village school.

This is Kannaga a former student of Karu
Local girls for the weekend sewing class


2019 has been a busy and challenging year for the trustees.  Leslie and his son visited Karun to meet the new local trustees to discuss how we could take forward plans to extend our work with the local community. 

For a number of years, the Trust has been successfully supporting the further education of girls who wished to continue their studies after their stay at Karun.  Two girls are now qualified nurses and one girl is a qualified teacher.  They are all married in employment and have young families.  It was a great pleasure that during our stay one of the girls Kannaga who trained as a teacher came to see us with her family.   Over the last two years we have been supporting a boy to train as an electrician.  He completes his training this year.  This year we are supporting a girl from the local village to study for a micro biology degree.

Karun is on the edge of a village with many disadvantaged families.  Local trustees and ourselves have been very conscious that it would be good to further strengthen our links with the local community by extending the use of our very good facilities for young people and adults in the village.

This year Karun has been working with village leaders to look at ways that the facilities on the campus can be used to support young people who live in the village.  The two areas of need that emerged from the discussions were helping young people develop their IT skills and teaching sewing for girls and women.  This was well received by villagers at a meeting that was organised at Karun whilst we were there.  Many of the young people have to travel some distance to access IT classes and it is also expensive. 


The local trustees decided that such skill training would be offered free to young people in the village as part of Karun’s commitment to help those who are disadvantaged.   We are pleased that sewing and computer classes are now running with a good number of young people and adults attending regularly.  

There are more 2019 photos in the Gallery. Here is  Ragu our apprentice electrician and Villagers enjoying a meal with us.

Ragu our apprentice electrician
Villagers enjoying a meal at the School



The last six months have been difficult for the School and Home and for the Trustees both here and in India.


In the Spring there was a complaint about one of the Home and School Governors. This was unfounded and not upheld but caused great concern and significant disruption for the Home. Although affected the School has continued to operate uninterrupted


The whole Education system in southern India is in a state of flux at the moment. The government is keen for every village to have its own school and new much stricter regulations have been introduced for all Hostels and Homes and all are being required to reregister and be approved afresh. The Karun Home is open and new local Trustees have been recruited to promote and help manage the Home and all the regulatory requirements have been met.


Looking forward the Trustees both here and in India are optimistic about the future.


Changes have been made to accommodate all the new regulations and Leslie Stephen and his son Mark are visiting early in November to ensure these are all working smoothly.

Saint Andrews Church Sonning Christmas Fayre 2018

Our stand Sonning Christmas Fayre
Sonning Christmas Fayre 2018
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