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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Nov 21, 2019

Giving a little more...

Mayuri wishes she could have nursed her parents
Mayuri wishes she could have nursed her parents

 

Thank you so much for your support of girls’ education in India. It’s shocking that a reported 60 million girls are still missing from Indian classrooms and it is our mission to ensure that every girl in our district makes it to school and has the ability to be independent. Your donations help us to reach further to spread our message.

Next week, we will be continuing on our girls’ education campaign in partnership with Malala Fund. Among our team of peer mentors who will be leading workshops, conducting street plays and taking part in a street rally, are pupils from 10 local schools. They will be joining our beneficiaries standing side-by-side with them to encourage girls to continue studying and hoping to break down some of the barriers to education for girls living in rural areas by making them aware of their rights.

While the issues of child marriage and labour are some of the main reasons girls miss or leave school early, many of the girls and women who come to live in our shelter homes have missed out on their education for weeks, months or even years or have failed their exams for other reasons. As part of our admission process we aim to re-enrol them in schools and colleges to ensure they complete 10th standard as a minimum. While we encourage all of them to continue into 12th Standard and on to higher education, some like Mayuri prefer to opt for vocational training.

Mayuri grew up in a slum in the shadows of Aurangabad’s district hospital. Her father was a daily wage worker on construction sites and an alcoholic while her mother worked as a housemaid. Their already difficult financial situation was worsening day by day as her parents began to fall sick repeatedly and were finally diagnosed with AIDS.

Both parents quickly succumbed to the illness and Mayuri and her two sisters were tested for HIV: unfortunately, Mayuri and her youngest sister tested as positive. None of their relatives were ready to take responsibility for the orphans, so at just 7 years of age, Mayuri and her two sisters were admitted to Shri Baba Sai Institution.

There she studied up to 10th standard, but failied her final exams and then when she reached 18 unable to stay at the orphanage. Without the qualifications to support herself, she was transferred to our Snehadhar women’s shelter where we gave her extra tuition to help her resit and pass her 10th standard. Having struggled to pass but still very keen to become financially independent, she signed up to our bedside nursing course.

Healthcare is fast becoming one of India’s largest industries - both in terms of revenue and employment - with healthcare delivery, which includes hospitals, nursing homes and old age homes, constituting 65 per cent of the overall health market. Factor in the Indian medical tourism industry worth US$3 billion per year and its plain to see the need for skilled health professionals is rising dramatically. Our Certificate in Bedside Assistance Nursing Training Course (CCBANC) delivers employability-focused training for healthcare assistants through a three-month programme. Located in our Rehabilitation Center, class-based learning is complemented with practical teaching in our on-site, 50-bed hospital, dedicated to the care of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA).

Not only are we able to train our own pool of bedside assistants to meet demand in our expanding health projects, we are also providing our beneficiaries the opportunity to maximise their employment prospects in an expanding sector. The course is also open to those from low socio-economic backgrounds and rural, tribal and at risk communities within our district.

As one of our first graduates, Mayuri is now employed as a nursing assistant at our Caring Friends Hospital and Research Center. She is one of our best staff, treating and caring for HIV+ patients and we continue to support her in her dreams of becoming a qualified nurse.

Girls come to us from a range of backgrounds and all with different reasons for needing our support. Therefore it’s important that our services are as diverse as their needs. We have a range of vocational education courses on offer that you are supporting. Thanks to you, we able to provide solutions that address their separate needs and capabilities giving them the skills and expertise to become successful and financially independent.

Want to give more?

On Tuesday 3 December you can help to give our girls 50% more. #GivingTuesday is an international day of fundraising and Global Giving will be matching all donations we receive that day by 50%, meaning for every $1 you donate we will actually receive $1.50 to deliver our life-changing support.

Graduates jumping for joy outside our hospital
Graduates jumping for joy outside our hospital

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