Jun 17, 2019

Summer dreams

Our kids with Aamir, Kiran Rao and Girish on set
Our kids with Aamir, Kiran Rao and Girish on set

Yesterday was the first day of the school year here in India and thanks to your support our children were among those celebrating ‘School Chale Hum’ (We’re off to school) celebrations across the country. We were really pleased to welcome more children from our local communities to our Snehalaya English Medium School where we are breaking down the stigmas facing our children by integrating them with mainstream students. It’s a particularly important year for our school as our first year of 10 Std students will face their final school exams and we are hoping they will do as well as this year’s students who attend local schools.

We are hoping they can match Mayur, our top scorer in this year’s 10th Std exams with 71.2%. When you consider how sick he was when he arrived with us just over a year ago this result is all the more impressive. So many of our children need to balance their studies with regular visits to the hospital and your support goes a long way towards funding after school tuition and encouraging them to do their best.

Now he has completed 10 Std he is ready to enrol in college and start focusing on his 12 Std exams which will take him into higher education. Like many other 16-17 year olds he is debating which subject area to focus on – arts, commerce, science, etc - and with a natural talent for languages in considering also doing a diploma in French.

We are hoping he will do as well as Baghyashree who received 82% in her 12th Std this year and will be enrolling in an arts degree in the next few weeks. She is so smart and also loves extracurricular activities, especially sport. All of which will help her in achieving her ambition of becoming a police officer.

While Mayur and Baghyashree are focused on where their futures lie some of our other children need more support and guidance in preparing to face the world, For our younger kids, it's been about making sure they have the basic reading, writing and maths skills which will help them at school while our older children have been focused on their future otions with career guidance, talks from professionals and exosure visits to colleges. An annual activity on our calendar this year we are pleased that we have been able to encourage more of our girls to consider STEM subjects with five scholarships to a mechanical engineering college specifically on offer to our beneficiaries.

In a similar vein we also organised a visit to a film studio for our children interested in a career in film and TV. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes to see Indian superstar Aamir Khan interview our founder, Girish in a popular TV show tackling drought in India through a movement in which we are partners with Aamir’s Paani Foundation. This helped the children to see the options available behnd the camera as well as in front of it. The trip to the TV studio was followed by a quick visit to the Mumbai shoreline, which for many of the kids involved was their first ever sight of the ocean. It really was a trip to remember in a summer full of inspiration and dream building for the future.

With 60 million children missing out on school in India we are truly grateful for your support which not only allows our children to receive their full 12 years of education but also gives them the confidence to dream big and overcome the odds to achieve great results, thank you!

Do you remember seeing the sea for the first time?
Do you remember seeing the sea for the first time?
Old McDonald - ee ay ee ay ohhhhhhhhh
Old McDonald - ee ay ee ay ohhhhhhhhh

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May 28, 2019

The results are in...

Celebrating our girls results
Celebrating our girls results

Please join us as in celebrating today as our 12th Standard students’ results are announced. Thanks to your support our girls have not only completed their full 12 years of education they have also topped the results tables across our projects. This is all the more remarkable when you consider their backgrounds and the adversity they have overcome. Then, factor in the facts and realities for girls living in India, as recently shared by our partners in girls education, Malala Fund:

  • Nearly 40% of adolescent girls aged 15-18 are missing from Indian schools
  • Girls are twice as likely as boys to have had less than four years of schooling
  • 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot in a classroom

We are justifiably proud of each and every girl for focusing on their futures and doing all they can to break the cycles of poverty and violence they were born into.

Our top scorer, Bhagyashree from our shelter home, received 82% (with a top mark of 91% for her Marathi exam) and is now well on her way to realising her ambition of becoming a police officer. Bhagyashree is a great example of our mission to stop second generation prostitution through education. She came to Snehalaya from a local red-light area with her younger brother when she was 10 year’s old and as soon as she completed her 10th standard her mother started putting pressure on her to return home and help support her by starting work.

With our support and protection we were able to help her continue her studies and she also became a peer mentor for our Malala campaigns for education. She has been at the fore of our girls’ movement, presenting and encouraging other girls to stand strong for their rights to equality in education and help others to fight for theirs too. We are really proud of her and will continue to support and encourage her as she starts her police training.

Among the other girls from our shelter home celebrating their results are orphans of HIV/AIDS and it is extremely unlikely they would have reached 12th standard without our educational and psychological support. They are now considering their next steps and we will be using funds you donate to help them continue into higher education.

Our slum schools support 700 children from seven of our city slums and their work in after school classes and extracurricular activities have also paid off today with 38 out of 42 of their 12th Standard students passing their final college exams. Congratulations to Pratiksha who has been studying commerce and received 71% to come top of our slums table. The girls also bucked the trend by completing and excelling in science with all passing with between 65 and 75%.

Thank you so much for believing in our girls and helping them to achieve such fantastic results, we and they wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Their futures were in your hands and you delivered! On behalf of us all we would sincerely like to thank you.

You are part of the team that makes this possible
You are part of the team that makes this possible

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May 8, 2019

CLEAR FOCUS

Our Snehankur adoption center has been helping abandoned children and their mothers for the last 15 years. We may be an adoption center but our focus has always been on our vision of helping and supporting women and girls who face difficulties and discrimination in their pregnancies and supporting their babies once they are born. Our support goes beyond the safe birth of the babies as we counsel and support mothers to take their rightful place back in society, with or without their babies. In fact, we are still in contact with the mother of our first ever adopted child.

We never know what each new day will bring, facing a range of challenges while rescuing and rehabilitating innocent infants and / or young mothers. As Mother’s Day approaches we would like to share a story of one of our brave mothers who overcame adversity to bring new life into this world. Sneha is just one of many girls who we work with forced to make difficult choices in the face of gender bias, age old traditions and societal pressure.

A bright student who was pursuing a career in civil services Sneha (21 yrs) had cleared the preliminary round of the required competitive exams for these positions and was getting ready for her finalswith some private training classes. Here she met and fell in love with a fellow student who promised to carry their relationship to the next level and Sneha came to trust him. However, when she fell pregnant, and asked him to marry her he made his excuses and fled.

Sneha was terrified to tell her parents who belong to the farming community and are from a low economic background. Ignorant to her situation, they took some private loans against their farm land and reduced the burden of supporting Sneha by forcing her into a marriage. Sneha did really well at hiding her pregnancy from her husband and in-laws, but as soon as she delivered her baby her new family immediately abandoned them both. While her parents were in a state of shock Sneha was also suffering a mental breakdown. On hand was one of our volunteers who took control and called our team. The call came in at 4am and, our team member Santosh started out immediately on the 3.5 hour journey for the government hospital where Sneha had given birth, accompanied by a nurse and a female care taker. After counseling Sneha and her parents, he brought them to Snehankur, our adoption center. After completing the legalities, Sneha and the baby were taken to a private hospital for check-ups and treatment. The gynaecologist advised that Sneha and child needed to be admitted for observation and treatment as both were mentally and physically very weak. Sneha’s hemoglobin count had dropped to 5% and she needed an urgent blood transplant and medication. Her baby boy also required special ICU as he had a low birth weight.

After few days of hospitalization, with neither her parents nor her in-laws willing to take her back, Sneha returned to our adoption center to start the process of relinquishing her son. She seemed to be still under tremendous pressure and shock and the next day she completely lost her vision. Our ever alert team rushed her to an ophthalmologist who referred her to a neurologist who advised this was a temporary blindness, psychosomatic in nature,that would recover in time.

Sneha has gradually recovered and regained her normal vision and her son is also fit and healthy and awaiting adoption. With all other support gone, Sneha is grateful that Snehalaya is helping her to continue to pursue her exams and reach her career goals.

So we would like to thank you for supporting us to continue to help girls and women like Sneha, offering alternatives to their innocent babies and helping them to fulfill their dreams and forget their nightmares.

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