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Mar 26, 2019

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Our Amazing Malala Peer Educators
Our Amazing Malala Peer Educators

Thank you so much for your support in helping to educate the street children in urban communities. You can never over estimate what a difference you are making.

Last Saturday we hosted four workshops for eighth and ninth standard girls from our city schools in a program led by our Malala peer mentors who you are helping support. Our peer mentors, recruited from our slum schools and shelter home have attended a year-long campaign supported by Malala Fund to end the exploitation of children. The Educate.Empower.Lead. campaign gave them the skills which they were able to use to manage and present over the whole day. They helped nearly 70 local school girls conduct practical exercises to enable them to plan and manage their own awareness and advocacy campaigns to promote girls’ education in their schools and communities. At the end of the day they made a pledge and were inaugurated as our newest Malala peer mentors. They will report back on their progress on 12 July, Malala Day, and we can’t wait to see the impact they make.

As part of the workshop we shared a recent report issued by Malala Fund on the state of education in India. This reports that 25% of boys and girls are unable to read 2nd Standard text, 36% of girls and 38% of boys are unable to read English, a core subject, and 42% of girls and 39% of boys are unable to do basic arithmetic. These shocking statistics show why our work in our slum schools is so vital. Our after-school study classes focus on the basics of reading, writing and maths to ensure that our children can do better in the curriculum taught in their schools. We also supplement this with ad hoc activities in other subjects. For example, last month, our seven slum schools took part in a science exhibition, showcasing experiments and science knowledge to their peers, families and community leaders. You can watch highlights from the science exhibition below.

Joining the children was Aniket. A former beneficiary and now mentor and example to the younger children, he overcame many challenges to enroll in higher education.

Coming from an extremely poor background, he lived in one room with his mother, father and two sisters. His father, fuelled by alcohol, would often be abusive and make life tough for the young Aniket .

He dropped out of school and became a drifter, getting in with bad company and making a meager living selling Vada Pav, the ubiquitous Maharashtrian potato snack. Life seemed pretty aimless for Aniket and he was never far from trouble. That was until one of our Balbhavan education coordinators saw the potential of this young man and helped turn his life around. They spent time mentoring him and gradually involving him in their education projects and counseled and encouraged him to go back to school. Seeing he had a keen interest in football they helped him form a football academy coaching 20 boys from the nearby slums. Many of his team have played at state and national level under his training.

He is a talented and natural host of our Balbhavan Annual Cultural Shows and wins over even the toughest of audiences. His talent is also on display at the regular street plays that we perform in Ahmednagar. He and his fellow performers have won several trophies proving what winners they are.

Nowadays you’d wonder how Aniket finds the time to pack so much into one day. But that he does. As well as studying animation at his local college he provides a helping hand and is a popular figure at a nearby hospital where he works the nightshift. On top of this, he continues with his football coaching, can often be seen climbing poles to fix electrical faults in his community and is a regular volunteer at the slum community halls helping and mentoring children to take the right path.

His real dream is to become an actor, and he can be found practicing in front of the mirror every day to perfect craft. The good news is his dream has already become a reality as has just completed filming his first feature film taking a lead role in a Marathi movie.

 Aniket is just one example of how your support is helping to improve the lives and help give kids access to an education that would otherwise be denied. Thank you!

Making A Difference.
Making A Difference.
Awareness.
Awareness.
Recruited to Educate. Empower. Lead.
Recruited to Educate. Empower. Lead.
Coaching For Success.
Coaching For Success.
Lights, Camera, Action.
Lights, Camera, Action.

Links:

Mar 21, 2019

A Colourful Time

Prosperity for the Year?
Prosperity for the Year?

Happy Holi and a big thank you for providing so much colour to our beneficiaries lives.

Remember what it was like when sitting your exams was just around the corner? After 8pm its study time here at Snehalaya and you can hear a pin drop as the kids begin to prepare for their up and coming exams. As you know at Snehalaya we are committed to stopping second generation prostitution and this we have successfully done since the opening of the Rehabilitation Centre in 1989. We believe that education is a powerful tool in society and we are equipping the kids with what is essential to take into their futures so they won’t be exploited like so many of their mothers have been. We’re sure you’ll join us in wishing the best of luck to all the students at this important time.

Many of the women who are in the sex work profession for various reasons often find it hard to leave but, as reported last August, we offer the women an escape route by setting them up in small businesses through our Sneha-Saksham program. One such lady who took up this offer is Sonali. After years of suffering abuse and hardship, for the sake of her daughter she left the red light area to begin a new life by starting her own tea and snacks stall. Hear her inspirational story in her own words in the short film made for ‘International Women’s Day’ below.

There is one date in the calendar that will offer some light relief at exam time and that is the Holi Festival (Festival of Colour) which is being celebrated today.The major Hindu festival welcomes in the spring because it is believed the season is full of color, and that’s exactly what you see as colors of all varieties are poured over anyone who happens to be standing nearby. transforming them into a human rainbow! This festival of joy is always eagerly anticipated at Snehalaya as special sweets are distributed giving the kids the sugar rush they need to dance for hours covered with every color you can imagine.

We are also preparing to meet and greet our new batch of volunteers from University of Leeds, UK. This year has seen people from all over the globe come to offer their skills and help with the further education and development of the Snehalaya children. We carefully screen and select volunteers who can contribute relevant skills and experience and this year's successful applicants provided cultural exchanges from Germany, Switzerland, Basque Country and for the first time - China. English teachers, Bobo and Jessie introduced the kids to their culture by celebrating Chinese New Year. The kids were shown how to use chopsticks, made dumplings, had their names written in Chinese, created special lantern cards and all were given lucky red envelopes containing Yen. The kids had a great time as well as savoring a whole new experience courtesy of our friends from China.

Snehalaya wants to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and for being part of our family. You are making the difference by helping us to continue with our life changing work. If you are interested in volunteering please visit the relevant page of our website as linked below.

Can You Play Chopsticks?
Can You Play Chopsticks?
How Big Can A Smile Get?
How Big Can A Smile Get?
Flying Colours
Flying Colours

Links:

Mar 8, 2019

Happy International Women's Day

Help us prevent child marriage
Help us prevent child marriage

Thanks to your support every day is women’s day here at Snehalaya as we work to ensure gender equality including the right to education for girls. It can be a challenge as we recently learned when a UNICEF study ranked our district as 16th highest (out of a total of 723 districts in India) for child marriages. It’s been shown that girls who complete secondary school are 6x less likely to become child brides (Source: Girls Not Brides), According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative there are 62 million girls out of school worldwide and 142 million girls will be married before the age of 18 by 2020 if present trends continue (Source: United Nations Population Fund) which makes our recent and ongoing campaigns to promote girls’ education all the more vital.

As well as advocating for girls education we are also invited to share our insights and experience with global changemakers. As an example, yesterday we were honoured to have been invited to attend a Gender Empowerment Roundtable session with the World Benchmarking Alliance which has been tasked with establishing benchmarks to ensure UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.

Discussions included the fact that women currently make 20% less than men, and they won’t reach pay equity with men until 2059, if the slow pace of progress on the pay gap persists. With UNICEF reporting that an extra year of education can help a girl earn 15-25% more as an adult and educated mothers being more than twice as likely to send their children to school, breaking down the barriers to girls and women has never been more important and we know that with your support we can make a difference.

We need your help to ensure we reach each and every girl in our district to educate and empower them to stand up for their rights. With this in mind, and building on our last three campaigns with Malala Fund, we will be delivering a girls’ education camp for up to 200 14-16 year old girls on 15 March. The aim is to recruit and train them as girls’ education peer mentors, joining our current network of over 50 of our beneficiaries who are already peer mentors in our projects, and help them to develop an action plan to promote women and child rights and advocate for equality in education in their own schools and communities. The plan is for them to report back on their progress and success on 12 July, Malala Day and there will be prizes for the best individual, team and school impact.

We are committed to empowering girls and have been fortunate enough to be shortlisted for GlobalGiving’s Girl Fund. Securing a place in the fund would earn us a full year of bonus funding dedicated to our projects for girls education. You can help us secure our place in the fund by voting for us through a donation. Donate right now and thanks to GlobalGiving's International Women's Day match funding, we will also secure a 30% bonus, meaning for every $1 you give, we will receive US$1.30.

Thank you so much for everyhting you do to support our girls, we really couldn't do it without you!

Keep our girls in school
Keep our girls in school
Help our girls to have their say
Help our girls to have their say
 
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