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Dec 10, 2018

Role models

Varsha teaches kindergarden
Varsha teaches kindergarden

Girl’s education November 2018

As 2018 draws to a close we would like to thank you for all the support you have given to our girls this year.

Empowering women and girls through education is at the heart of what we do and we are constantly striving to improve our provision. We do this by monitoring and evaluating our projects, children’s achievements and the development of our staff through teacher training.

Helping us is former volunteer and Snehalaya UK trustee Sarah. A special education needs teacher in the UK she has been visiting our Indian projects regularly since 2010 and is committed to helping the teachers who work in our own school, slum community centers and our Rehab Center. Through her own fundraising she has been able to develop and deliver a programme of teacher training, bringing educational specialists and teachers from the UK to share best practice with our Indian staff. This has included a range of areas including classroom management, activity-based learning and special education needs. Our teachers have embraced everything they have learned and while they are always enthusiastic and keen to introduce new ideas to improve the education of our children nothing beats seeing it in practice.

Which is why, this October Sarah secured the funds to allow her to host three of our teachers, Jayashri, Bhakti and Varsha, from our English Medium School and Sangeeta, the Education Coordinator for our slum schools, and arrange for them to spend a full two weeks based in four UK schools. Over the fortnight, they were able to visit a special education needs school, two primary schools and one academy, as well as after school activity clubs, giving them a good breadth of experiences to draw upon. They shadowed teachers, delivered their own cultural program, learnt more about lesson planning and preparation, use of technology, feedback and reporting but most importantly were able to see for themselves what they had previously learned being put into practice in UK classrooms.

The teachers were selected based on an application, interview, their vision for their own classrooms and their commitment to their pupils and our education projects. For us it was important that they saw how integrated and equally treated children are regardless of gender or learning abilities. It’s also really positive that the exchange so far was been led by women, helping to create role models and inspiration for our girls who dream of travelling the world to develop personally and professionally.

As 14 year old Tamana said: “I am so proud that my teacher Bhakti was chosen to visit the UK, she is a really great teacher and will come back with some good ideas. Next year can we send the children as well?”

The teachers really threw themselves into the hectic and intense schedule, fuelled by their passion and commitment to get the best out of the experience to serve our children better. It’s wonderful to see them already implementing what they saw and sharing their experience with their colleagues and we have seen improvements in the behaviour, concentration and understanding of their pupils as a result.

As 24-year-old Jayashri , our 8th Standard and maths teacher, says: “This was the opportunity of a lifetime to visit the UK and see how teachers work there. I learned many new things and am excited to start putting what I’ve seen into practice with my own students.”

Sarah will be visiting our projects in India again at her own expense in a few weeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the exchange and all being well we will repeat it with some other teachers next year. And who knows, with your support maybe we can send Tamana and her friends too!

Help us continue to provide a meaningful and professional education to our girls. Give before 31 December and we could qualify for bonus prizes as part of Global Giving’s End of Year Giving campaign.

Jayashri teaches maths
Jayashri teaches maths
Bhakti takes real pride in her students
Bhakti takes real pride in her students
Sangeeta leads a team of over 20 teachers
Sangeeta leads a team of over 20 teachers

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Nov 21, 2018

Bon voyage

The official hand over of Sonu
The official hand over of Sonu

The work done by this fantastic organisation you support is always mind blowing and every day brings new joy and surprises. There are too many stories to tell in one report but I would like to share one story from today when I had the huge honour of anchoring one of our adoption ceremonies.

We currently hold around 18 of these ceremonies each year, but today had a double impact with two families extending their families. The first is a couple and their daughter from Italy who have been waiting five years to meet one and a half year old Rani. The other couple from Orissa in the south east of India have also been patiently waiting to bring 11 month old Sonu home. Both families arrived a day earlier to finally meet their new children and start their bonding and learn more about their babies’ routines from our caregivers.

I spent the night at our adoption center to meet with and learn a little more about the parents and to offer my congratulations. Getting to know them both I can see that our children are in safe hands and going to great families. I also managed to spend some time with both babies and I was struck by how happy they were and how they have already developed their own personalities. Sonu in particular won me over with his love of wrestling, particularly with his younger friend Prabu. Maybe we will see him in the WWF some day!

Personally I really admire both families for their persistence and patience in navigating the mountains of paperwork and rigorous checks involved in reaching this huge milestone. I also applaud their choice in wanting to give their love and a future to our babies abandoned and relinquished at birth.

The official handover ceremony was such a happy and emotional event with one and a half year old Rani stealing the show in her bright pink tulle dress. Short speeches preceded blessings and finally the handover of the children to their new families and there was barely a dry eye in the house. It’s a real privilege to be part of such a momentous day in these families lives and to see each happily ever after start to unfold.

Although you couldn’t be there in body you were there in spirit and we would like to thank you for the part you play in making this happen, without your support our babies would never reach this stage. We have on further request for you to join us in wishing all the best to Rani boarding a flight to Europe in a few short days and 11 month old Sonu who has started the journey east to Orissa.

Finally, we are taking part in #GivingTuesda next week on 27 November. Any donations made that day to our project will be eleigible for bonus funding and prizes spreading your support much further.

Such an honour to be part of this
Such an honour to be part of this
#GivingTuesday is next week
#GivingTuesday is next week

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Nov 6, 2018

Happy Diwali

Wishing you all the best
Wishing you all the best

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and joyful Diwali.

We are already feeling very festive here at Snehalaya as we mark the start of the Hindu festival of lights – the Sanskrit Dipavali means row of lamps. Symbolising the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”, the five day festival literally lights up India as temples, homes, shops and offices shine brightly with a rainbow of glittering lights, flickering candle flames and explosive fireworks displays.

Following tradition, our beneficiaries have been busy preparing by cleaning and decorating their rooms with rangoli  decorations. In another, more local tradition they have also been building killas (forts) as part of a holiday competition sponsored by our local Lions club. Winners will be announced at the special annual Diwali celebration the club hosts for us next week.

It is also a time for family, the equivalent of Christmas, Eid or Hannukah, and in the coming few days we will be working hard to collect new clothes and sweet treats to enable them to enjoy a traditional celebration similar to those taking part in homes throughout the sub-continent. As well as lighting diyas (oil lamps or candles), offering puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, setting off fireworks and enjoying our ‘family’ feasts, with mithai (sweets) and gifts, we also have a few special Snehalaya events planned.

We have already distributed new saris to our female sex workers and launched Diwali in one of our slum projects, in a week or so we will also welcome our former beneficiaries to come ‘home’ for our annual reunion. A real family affair, it allows former beneficiaries the chance to catch up and reminisce, receive gifts and meet new members of each other’s families. Last night we enjoyed a special night of entertainment put on by our children with some competitions, beautiful singing, dancing and a bit of improv. We have a full schedule of activities to keep our children busy during their school holidays with more competitions, traditional cooking preparations, workshops and activities and guest programs. They will also be creating their own decorations and playing sports. We are excited about the rest of the celebration and invite you to join in by watching some of our Diwali video highlights below.

Thank you for being a part of our family and on behalf of our beneficiaries may we wish you all the best for the festive season and the year ahead.

Our children's forts are so detailed
Our children's forts are so detailed
Mehndi is another Diwali tradition
Mehndi is another Diwali tradition

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