Mar 12, 2020

Stop the stigma

School attendance is on the rise
School attendance is on the rise

Thank you so much for everything you have done to support our children, including many of whom are living with HIV,

As the chill of winter dissipates and the temperatures start their annual hike towards the high 40’s in degrees Celsius, our students’ determination is also on the rise as exam season is underway. While it may be getting hot outside our first ever batch of 10th standard students from our Snehalaya English school are doing a good job of playing it cool and taking their exams in their stride.

While we may remember our own exams with a shudder, these young people truly appreciate the value of education and obtaining the good qualifications that will sustain them through their futures. They are busy soaking up every opportunity to revise and review their learning, from personal study and after school classes to online Skype classes with volunteers in other Indian cities and the USA.

In a positive initiative we are also extremely grateful that the extra obstacles facing children living with HIV have been recognised with an extra hour allocated to them during their current exams. This is making a big difference to our HIV+ children who end up missing school due to medical check-ups and ill health. To help improve their health we have recently appointed a HIV expert doctor to our on-site hospital. Along with improved nutrition in our kitchen, thanks to advice from nutrition experts, we are hopeful our children’s school attendance will continue to increase.

We hope you join us in wishing all of our children luck in their exams!

In other news we celebrated a significant milestone a few weeks ago as our first ever HIV+ child was adopted. The two year-old has been living at our Rehab Center since his HIV+ mother, unable to care for him herself, gave him up for adoption. Having bonded with many of or other children and the caregiver responsible for him, we are missing him already but we are really happy to have met his new adoptive parents when they came to collect him a few weeks ago. We have since been sent photos of him as he takes to his new life in the United States.

This may be the first HIV+ adoption we know of in India, but we are confident it will be the first of many. We are grateful to the parents who saw beyond the stigma, the more children are accepted by adoptive parents the more the unfounded fears surrounding HIV will be reduced which will benefit all of the children living in our Rehab Center.

We are grateful to you for standing alongside us as we create better futures for our children by tailoring our support to their health requirements. Thank you for your support.

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Feb 20, 2020

Testing times

Anjun is our own Malala
Anjun is our own Malala

As the chill of winter dissipates and the temperatures start their annual hike towards the high 40’s in degrees Celsius, our students’ determination is also on the rise as we enter exam season. This Tuesday saw many of our beneficiaries face their first 12th standard exam and while it may be getting hot outside they are doing a good job of playing it cool and taking the final challenge of their school days in their stride. So too, our 10th standard students are busy revising for their exams which start on 3 March.

While we may remember our own exams with a shudder, these young people truly appreciate the value of education and obtaining the good qualifications that will sustain them through their futures. They are busy soaking up every opportunity to revise and review their learning, from personal study and after school classes to online Skype classes with volunteers in other Indian cities and the USA. We hope you join us in wishing them luck!

They are hoping for the same success as some of their seniors, like Saba and Anjun.

You may remember Saba as one of the girls who joined us on our Malala Fund-supported education campaign trails where she shared her own fight in securing her right to education. Living in a predominantly Muslim slum with her widowed mother and four siblings, her dead father’s family started applying pressure on her to get married when she was just 15. She approached our team who counselled and helped her convince her family to allow her to pursue her dream of studying engineering. We are delighted to report that she has recently graduated from her University of Pune engineering degree with top marks.

Another success story is Anjun whose parents’ poverty forced them to arrange her marriage. Just three days after the wedding, having been abused by her husband, Anjun managed to escape and travelled the 120 km back to her family who were distraught to have put her in such a bad situation.

The day after her return, she was one of the many to watch ‘He Named me Malala’ at one of our roadshow screenings. After the screening, she thought, “If a 12-year-old can do all of this for her education, I can fight for mine too.' The very next day, Anjun came to Snehalaya asking for our help and with the support of Malala Fund and donors like you we were able to enrol her in a local nursing course. We also offered to support her younger sister to help avoid a similar situation for her. 

Anjun is now a fully qualified nurse, has remarried and has a baby daughter. She says: “Snehalaya allowed me to achieve a brighter future and I want to support other girls who are in difficult situations to do the same.” 

It’s thanks to you and girls like Anjun and Saba that we are able to inspire and support more girls to remain in education and achieve their dreams. We are also grateful to GlobalGiving for selecting us to compete for a place in the Global Girl Fund which supports highly effective projects providing education, legal protection, health care, and access to training and job skills so that girls can thrive - making a difference in their lives and their communities.

We have one week from Monday 6 March to Friday, March 13 (with bonus funding available during the first 24-hours of the campaign) to gain as many unique donations as possible. Eight organizations with the highest number of donors  will  win a year-long spot in the 2020 Girl Fund which could help us raise up to an extra $15,000 to support our girls. If you would like to boost your support, save the date and we will send you a reminder nearer the time.

Our school's 10th standard are a little anxious
Our school's 10th standard are a little anxious

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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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