Prajwala has welcomed the 2013 new year with newfound hopes of healing, blessings and success for all children and adults who have found sanctuary in our therapeutic shelter home. This rehabilitative community has continued to provide a wide range of holistic services in the areas of education, healthcare, recreation, and counseling by a dedicated team of staff. The shelter is thriving as an environment where vulnerable children rescued from various stages of the trafficking process can heal psychologically, be educationally and economically empowered and have access to effective channels of social reintegration.
During the last months of 2012, there were many achievements in the shelter, beginning with the fact that despite their difficult backgrounds and traumatic life experiences, six mainstream students topped their classes in quarterly exams with highest marks. The shelter also inaugurated a nursery school and children's park, the latter of which now serves exclusively as an area for fun and relaxation. The crèche currently has 2 infants and 7 toddlers with 2 caretakers managing the daily programs.
Furthermore, in collaboration with Silver Oaks International Baccalaureate School, a student leadership training program was organized by the student committee members of all centers to improve personality development and leadership qualities of the children. A total of 10 children went to Henry Martin Institute to attend the leadership training program and had the opportunity to interact with students from other mainstream schools. During the sessions, children learned about good habits to adopt in their lives and participated in a variety of interactive writing and speaking activities aimed at increasing self-confidence and interpersonal communication skills.
On the political front, after lots of struggle the shelter home received a government license for the shelter until September 2013, which makes Prajwala the only officially legal rehabilitation shelter in Andhra Pradesh. Efforts are continuously being made to make the shelter a truly healing, rehabilitative space where strong, self-reliant and capable young women emerge to take control of their lives and pursue the dreams that they themselves define.
Since the inauguration of the new shelter facilities over one year ago, we have maintained and expanded all of our rehabilitation programs in the areas of education, counseling, health, and livelihoods to ensure holistic recovery of all rescued victims.
Our residential school is helping each child at the shelter to begin the mainstreaming process into society and develop the necessary academic, psychosocial and interpersonal communication skills to excel in any educational setting. All students are passing with good marks and some are even receiving distinctions for outstanding performance!
We also continue to provide trauma-informed mental health counseling and group therapy, as well as institutionalized medical care to ensure that women and girls begin the healing process both psychologically and physically.
The new implementation of life-skills training sessions and age-appropriate development classes for children is also helping improve their personal and spiritual advancement, while the livelihood opportunities for adults are preparing them for viable, alternative employment options outside of the shelter.
Overall, the normalizing effect of the shelter is helping all residents integrate and readjust into a new social environment where they are not only supported and deeply cared for, but are also promoted to enhance their growth and development in a myriad of ways.
It is one year since the shelter is occupied...
Finally therapeutic community is emerging. The place has healing environment for all victims of sex trafficking who have come here. A palpable difference is observed in any victim once she reaches the community.
At the children's level, today more and more children are being prepared for mainstreamed life. This year close to 51 children have been admitted it normal schools.
An extraordinary milestone in the adult shelter has been the landmark agreement with Govt of Andhra Pradesh to recruit survivors of trafficking as security guards in girls residential schools. 45 girls were selected and trained and are now in the process of joining duties in various government run residential schools.
Therapeutic community is also having a great impact on the health status of the victims. Most HIV positive persons feel much more energized in the open environment in the midst of nature.
Slowly staff issues are getting streamlined and the community is becoming a true place for all to heal.
The new shelter has brought in stability and tranquility in the lives of all the women and children. But the distance and remoteness of the location has also brought with it a whole new range of operational issues. To start with many staff resigned as they did not want to relocate to the village and disturb their family dynamics.
For the children and the girls who were either studying or working in the city organizing daily transport to ferry them became a big challenge. It also has become a massive challenge to deal with issues such as lack of specialized medical services...whole sale shops to buy clothes or provisions at a subsidized rates has created extra resources to be mobilized.
Today having a new place has at one end reduced so much of our costing such as rent etc but operational cost like hiring a vehicle for transportation has increased our expenses disproportionately.
I am sure over a period of time, we will find our own answers...but till then struggle continues.
After a lot of struggle finally the new shelter is ready for occupation. Please check out the video
I thank all our friends and well wishers who have supported us in this herculean task.
The challenge ahead is to sustain this place.
I am sure all of you will continue to support this mission.
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