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Jan 27, 2020

A Family Completed

Proud Daddy
Proud Daddy

Happy new year!

No sooner had we welcomed in 2020, another adoption was taking place at Snehankur. The adoptive parents who had met their infant a few weeks previously could barely contain their excitement. Our Snehankur Adoption Center is the largest in India and with almost 1,000 adoptions since it was established in 2004, each official handover ceremony remains unique.

Many people ask how the babies come to be here? Each have their own individual story. Common reasons for a baby being abandoned is often because they were born to people from low economic backgrounds, or they have a defect in some way or just simply because they are a girl - over 90% of our babaies are girls! Before the adoption there are many papers to be signed and Balu, a former lawyer who is now our project manager, is a regular in the Ahmednagar courts, as there are many legal requirements to meet. If a baby is found there is a two month window period until the baby is eligible for adoption. They are then registered on the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA: the government agency) website where proseepctive adoptive parents can find their future son or daughter. Most of our adoptions are with Indian parents, however, if a child is passed over three times by an Indian couple hey become free for international adoption. 

Snehalaya's official handover ceremonies, where the child is formally handed to its new parents, are attended by local officials, dignitaries and in some cases the person who brought the rejected child to us. All who are present can’t help feeling overwhelmed and privileged to witness the important event that is taking place. Needless to say the couples who are finally united with their toddler express their deep gratitude and love for the new life that is in their lives, tears are shed and it can be an emotional occasion for all concerned. Like any  proud new parents the baby is cradled in arms and shown to all who come to congratulate them, then there's the collective sound of clicks as hundreds of photos are taken for the family album.

Witnessing Snehankur in action can be a breathtaking experience, although many of the babies arrive in poor shape, our center boasts a 100% mortality rate. 

Thank you for choosing Snehankur and the part you have played in transforming the lives of nearly 1,000 children and their adoptive parents.

Thank you for holding hands with us
Thank you for holding hands with us

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Dec 19, 2019

Building healthier futures

Artists impression of the development
Artists impression of the development

All through 2019, Snehalaya has been celebrating 30 years of empowering women and children. As 2020 approaches, we would like to share a little more on our work. Having started in 1989 by our founder taking two children away from the red-light areas for a few hours a day we have matured into a well-recognised organisation providing life-changing impact at grassroots level. All 23 of our current projects seek to address the root causes that leave women and children vulnerable to exploitation and your support ensures we reach over 17,000 people each and every year.

Your support of our educate projects funds some of our work in seven of Ahmednagar’s slum communities and we want you to know just how far your valued donation goes. According to Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation, 15% of our city’s total population lives in slums. Since our first Balbhavan was established in a former leprosy colony, Sanjay Nagar in 2003, we have worked with over 10,000 children and their families.

A healthy and happy family makes for happier and healthier children and our work in slums goes beyond the classroom. Our aim is to uplift the communities through healthcare, sanitation and in Sanjay Nagar’s case we are going event further. It is the only slum built on government land, covering 2.09 acres with 209 dwelling units of varying quality but they are primarily crude hand-built homes or corrugated sheet shacks. With a population of 873, it has a unique social structure with nearly 22 different communities living side-by-side but has no health care facilities or storm water drains.

Under a Government of India’s 'Housing for All' scheme, we are working with the community and partners, including an American architecture foundation, to redevelop Sanjay Nagar. We are creating 298 locally-owned homes based on principles including social, economic and environmental sustainability, inclusive process, social cohesion and infrastructure, and solid waste and waste water management. There will also be a new classroom for our after-school clases as well as other community spaces for meetings and celebrations.

The slum-dwellers have embraced the development and are committed to purchasing their new homes at subsidised rates. Already some of their homes have been demolished and we are putting them up in temporary accommodation until they can move into their new homes. By providing cleaner, greener and sustainable living conditions we will be ensuring the children you are supporting will be living in a much healthier environment where they can focus on their educations and futures.

We would like to thank you for supporting and enabling us to be able to take on projects like this to improve the lives of the children we serve and we hope you continue your journey with us to see how this exciting development unfolds. Finally, we would also like to wish you and your families and loved ones a very merry festive season and all the best for 2020.

Maximising the space
Maximising the space
The current housing is cramped
The current housing is cramped
End of Year Giving season is here
End of Year Giving season is here

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Dec 16, 2019

30 years of impact

Suraj & Sandip enjoy a visit from their uncle
Suraj & Sandip enjoy a visit from their uncle

As we shared with you a few weeks ago, Snehalaya is celebrating 30 years of empowering women and children this year. As 2020 approaches, we would like to share a little more on the impact of our 30 years of our work. Having started in 1989 by our founder taking two children away from the red-light areas for a few hours a day, we have matured into a well-recognised organisation providing life-changing impact at grassroots level. All 23 of our current projects seek to address the root causes that leave women and children vulnerable to exploitation and your support ensures we reach over 17,000 people each and every year.

Your support of our rescue projects funds many areas of our work and we want you to know just how far your valued donation goes. Our holistic approach has developed a diverse portfolio of projects the focus on the specific needs of our beneficiaries. Below are details of the year of some of the projects you have funded, the year they were founded and the total number of beneficiaries so far:

  • 1989 – Snehjyot, sex workers projects – over 3,500 female sex workers provided free healthcare, counselling, legal advice, alternatives to sex work and more…
  • 1992 - Rehabilitation Center, our shelter home for orphans, semi-orphans and children living with HIV/AIDS – 1,250 children aged 5-18
  • 2003 – Childline – over 9,000 cases, including sexual abuse, kidnap, runaways, sex trafficking, child marriage and labour and more…
  • 2010 – Snehadhar English Medium School – 450 pupils
  • 2011 – Snehadhar, our women’s shelter & helpline – 1,800 women and girls provided free healthcare, shelter, counselling, legal advice, education, vocational training and more…
  • 2016 – GKN Rehab Center – aftercare and independent living and support to continue the education and help find employment for 40 boys who have reached the age of 18 and are no longer legally allowed to stay in our shelter home

As well as providing support, all of the above projects also conduct outreach work with the mission of ensuring every woman and child in our district is aware of their rights in the hope that they will avoid the crisis points that bring our beneficiaries to our doors. Since 1989, we have welcomed over 200,000 people who have directly benefitted from our services and have helped them to turn their lives around. There are so many reasons they come to us and every story is unique but the one common factor is they eventually turn into a story of success. The ending of five year old Suraj and 11 year old Sandip’s story remains unwritten but we have high hopes for them…

The boys were orphaned when their parents died of AIDS-related illnesses. While Sandip is HIV+, fortunately for Suraj his mother was administered HIV medication during her pregnancy that reduces the risks of transmitting HIV. After his birth he was also given follow up HIV drugs and there was a huge relief when he finally tested negative.

After the death of their mother and father, their transgender uncle took on responsibility for the boys care but he also had to work, which meant leaving his nephews alone at home. Realising this wasn’t good for them he approached the local Child Welfare Committee (CWC), who recommended he enrol the boys in a local shelter home. The boys arrived at Snehalaya in June 2018 with few personal belongings, a small toy car, a pair of sunglasses and a small bag of snacks. Their uncle clearly loves and misses them but as he lives close he has lots of opportunities to visit the boys on his days off, bringing them their favourite foods and taking them on short rides around the grounds on his motorcycle.

Both boys are gregarious and soon made friends, quickly becoming very popular. Sandip is very sensible and still a little shy, playing the role model, guiding and keeping a brotherly eye on his younger sibling. He is also very kind and has befriended one of our other boys who is deaf, quickly learning sign language to play and communicate with him. Suraj is a cheeky chap with bags of energy which means he never quite manages to sit still. He’s also a real character and recently played a policeman in one of the films our children wrote, directed, filmed and acted in. He took the role very seriously practising his marching and serious face so he was ready for action when the camera started rolling.

We would like to thank you for supporting and enabling us to be able to take in so many children like this lovable pair and hope you continue your journey with us to see how their story unfolds. For now, they and all of our children are looking forward to Christmas and their annual visit from Santa Claus. We hope they and you have a very merry festive season.

Help us win prizes - donate now
Help us win prizes - donate now

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