Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
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Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
Safe care and adoption for Indian Babies
A family united
A family united

Thank you for all your support which is helping our beneficiaries in so many different ways. It’s because of you we are able to help so many people through so many different challenges.

It’s reported that around one-third of people in India have discriminatory views toward people with HIV. Unfortunately, this extends to all areas of society and it is often a challenge to find the medical professionals willing to treat our beneficiaries. Awareness-raising, fact-sharing and stigma-busting is incredibly important in ensuring people with HIV have equal access to their human rights and opportunities. While the Indian government bodies are reducing the transmission of HIV, there seems to be a lack of understanding around how the virus is contracted and PLHA continue to be seen as untouchables. We are committed to advocating for the rights of PLHA and increasing the understanding around the virus but there is still a long way to go.

This is particularly important for our adoption center which rescues abandoned and unwanted children, many of whom are HIV+. Despite our efforts, Indian families are still unwilling to adopt HIV+ children but the good news is we have now been able to place two children internationally successfully. 

In September, we bid a fond farewell to a popular member of our Snehalaya family, four-year-old Shweta. She is leaving Snehalaya to begin a new life in Florida, USA. She was born with HIV and came to our Snehankur adoption center three years ago.

We are proud that she is our second HIV positive child to be adopted from Snehalaya, and as far as we know, also in the country. Her amazing adopted mum and dad said: ‘It’s an honor that Shweta is now our daughter. HIV is no problem to us. It’s a manageable virus."

We wish the three of them love, luck and happiness in their future lives together.

However, it remains important for us to encourage more families to follow their lead and your support allows us not only to ensure all of our babies receive the best of care, it also allows us to advocate for our infants’ equal rights to the love of a family.

SAVE THE DATE
Giving Tuesday, 29 November, is a fantastic opportunity to stretch your support even further. Thanks to GlobalGiving any donations made that day will earn us our share of US$1 million in match funding. Since 2015 we have raised thousands in bonus funding that helps find families for babies like Shweta. Look out for reminders from us nearer the time.

Coming soon #Givingtuesday
Coming soon #Givingtuesday

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Save the date
Save the date

Thank you so much for your support. Youa re enabling us to ensure babies have the best chance in life. Ideally children belong in their birth families and our Snehankur project works with all of our 20+ Snehalaya projects to keep mthers and their babies together wherever possible. Here we share on example.

Recently, a social worker from our district contacted our team about a 36-year-old pregnant woman who needed our help. Reaching the police station, our team took over responsibility for her, immediately finding her to be eight months pregnant.

With COVID restrictions still in place at the time, she was first admitted to our Caring Friend's Hospital, spending eight days in quarantine. She was not very coherent and was constantly referring to her family but could not give her husband's full name. She explained that she had left home after a quarrel and, being uneducated, had no money or identification.

After quarantine, she was placed in our shelter home, where she started mingling, laughing, and playing with the women. Our team managed to find receipts for the woman and her husband along with a copy of her mother's Aadhar card in her belongings. This helped us locate her mother's village in Aurangabad District. We were able to call her cousin, who told us she had run away from home two to three years ago. Unfortunately, we were also told her mother could not take care of her daughter, and no one else was ready to take care of her either.

We decided to focus on the search for her husband, and although she had no other information, she did mention Pimpalgaon village. We took the help of the police to find out more about the town, but they drew a blank. Looking back over the receipts we had found, we were able to find another address and make contact with someone from that village. We were told that the woman's husband was mentally ill and had not been seen for ten days. Meanwhile, her pregnancy was advancing, and after 15 days in Snehalaya, she was admitted to a private hospital for three days.

The woman's behavior changed dramatically; she started singing loudly, laughing out loud, jumping on her bed, blabbering, and trying to run away from the project. She was diagnosed as mentally ill. We searched for organizations working for psychiatric patients who may be able to help her, but none were willing to take her until after she had delivered her baby.

After safely giving birth to her baby girl child, we took her back to our shelter for one month's recovery time. Finally, we were able to admit her for psychiatric treatment. We continue to visit her to check in on her significant progress, and she is looking forward to being reunited with her daughter, who is currently still in our care.

Every penny you donate counts towards transforming lives of so many vulnerable women and girls, thank you. This July Bonus day those pennies go even further with all donations made on 20 July being matched by GlobalGiving. Any amount you can send will go a long way in empowering more women and babies like this.

Mother & baby are doing well
Mother & baby are doing well

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Sameer's adoption frees a cradle for another baby
Sameer's adoption frees a cradle for another baby

Thank you so much for supporting our infants and young children here in India. Unfortunately in a system already burdened with children waiting for new families and homes, the pandemic is causing even more delays in placing children through the government system, so your contributions have never been so vital. There is an increasing number of COVID orphans on top of the children with disabilities that have already been waiting for some time. It is a sad fact that while we do have many Indian families wishing to adopt they are less likely to take on a child with disabilities and most of these children are put up for international adoption instead. Every adoption we process is a celebration with a special handover ceremony to mark the event. However there is extra cause to celebrate when our special children find their new home. This is just one recent story.

Sameer's mother had four sisters and was married off at an early age by her parents who were working as laborers. Her husband was disabled and addicted, so Sameer's mother worked as a laborer to support the family as best she could, but their financial situation was highly challenging. If she did not pay for his alcohol, her husband would abuse her physically and psychologically.

She became pregnant, but her first child, a girl, was severely underweight and died due to lack of medical treatment. She fell pregnant for a second time, giving birth to a son. She took care of her child very well, but a crisis was looming as the boy's eyesight began to wane. Again with no money for medical treatment, the boy became mentally disabled.

The husband’s behavior worsened, and one day he threw the mother and disabled son out of the house. She went to the train station where she contacted her parents and, after waiting at the train station for four to five days, she returned to her father, a porter, and started working as a laborer.

After some time, her husband turned up and brought her back home. However, his behavior had not changed. When she became pregnant again, he was not ready to support her or his son who needed medical treatment. The mother gave birth to her second son, Sameer, at a government hospital in Ahmednagar.

Unfortunately, her second son was also born with a mental disability and she shared her concerns about how she was going to be able to also take care of this baby with hospital staff and doctors. They contacted Snehankur who counselled her before completing all the legal procedures to admit Sameer and start the medical treatments he needed. We also gave Sameer's elder brother medical treatment and supported his mother to live independently.

Sameer began to grow slowly but needed multiple interventions by Dr Sunil Sable (ophthalmologist) and Dr Suchit Tamboli (pediatrician specializing in special needs children). He was registered in the CARA adoption system but no Indian parents were willing to take on Sameer’s multiple health issues. Having exhausted the Indian options, Sameer was freed for international adoption.

Sameer’s profile was seen by parents looking to adopt in the USA and happily started the adoption process. After two years living in Snehankur’s care, Sameer was fondly loved by our staff, but they were also very happy to hand over a very handsome and smiling Sameer to his new parents and his new life in the USA.

As you can see your support of our work goes way beyond rescuing and sheltering babies, we are also able to stregthen and liberate families from some of the most dire situations. We not be able to do this without you and I am incredibly grateful to have you in our extended family.

 

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Savita and her shadow celebrate her birthday
Savita and her shadow celebrate her birthday

Happy New Year from Snehalaya!

We hope you are safe and healthy as we enter 2022. Omicron cases are on the rise here in India and like many in the world restrictions are again being imposed to prevent a strain on our heath services. With over one billion vaccinations delivered to the nation, for now, life at Snehalaya remains relatively normal. Let's hope it stays this way. We are staying positive and on that note would like to share the story of one of our unique caregivers. 

Savita comes from a troubled past, ill-treated by her near and dear ones. Facing so much abuse often led her to suicidal thoughts, and strangers saved her multiple times. Leaving all this behind to find a place where such memories would not trouble her was indeed a challenge, but, fortunately, in 2008, she came to Snehalaya. She was in terrible health and in need of urgent medical attention. She was immediately admitted to our hospital (then a Community Care Center), where she was given proper medical care and medicines. Gradually her condition improved, and she expressed her desire to work in Snehalaya. After undergoing adequate rest, she was responsible for running Snehalaya’s Rehab Center kitchen.

Savita was quite fond of cooking and enjoyed feeding the children in our Rehab Center campus. Impressed by her dedication, she was given a specialized job cooking for more minor children below five years of age with specific nutritional needs. Preparing healthy and tasty food was a challenge that she took up with enthusiasm.

Our Snehankur adoption center rescues abandoned newborn babies and infants, some of whom have been born with HIV/AIDS. Until a few years ago, when the Government opened the doors to them for international adoptions, such children were ignored by adoptive parents and left in the care of our organization. With the adoption process taking much longer for them, we wanted to provide a more stable environment with the specialized care and treatment and unconditional love they require.

It was decided to open a dedicated unit for them in our Rehab Center, and Savita was a natural choice to care for them, and she was happy and honored to volunteer to do so. Living in a smaller room with the youngsters, she has her cooking facilities to continue her passion for cooking and provide them with supplemental nutritional needs. She becomes their mother and can often be seen taking her small charges to our playground, kitchen, and events and has a whole range of toys to develop them through play within their room.

Despite the natural attachments that are formed. Savita was pleased when our first HIV-positive baby was adopted by American parents in 2019, ensuring a bright future for the little boy. His parents were so grateful for the care and love she gave their son while they were waiting for him that they have stayed connected, regularly sending her photo and video updates showing his growth and transition to becoming an American, which make her day.

She is currently caring for another little girl, who will soon become our second HIV+ adoptive child and again, Savita is excited and happy to see her join her new family. We know that Savita, directly thanks to our children, is happy and healthy and reaches the developmental milestones to help them adjust to their new families and flourish in their futures.

We are incredibly grateful that Savita found Snehalaya, and in return, we found a caring mother for our babies and children. Savita is now an irreplaceable part of Snehalaya. Fondly called ‘Tai’ or elder sister by all, Savita says, ‘Sometimes the bonds of love and care are stronger than blood relations or those formed by religious formalities.’

Snehalaya has many such caregivers and hidden heroes who form a solid foundation of our work and equal love for all our children regardless of their histories and medical conditions. Your support goes a long way to encourage and support their development and skills in creating these loving and postive environments for our young charges, Thank you for being there for us, Savita and our babies.

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Reunited mother and child
Reunited mother and child

We are happy to report that for now the COVID situation in India has stabilized after the devastating second wave earlier this year. While there are still cases being reported, and some restrictions remain in place many are being vaccinated and the pressure on the health systems is manageable. As we are sure it is for you, life has no means returned to normal and we remain concerned about a third wave, the improved situation is a welcome relief to all. We are so grateful for your support, it makes a world of difference when crises like these hit, thank you.

Children belong with their families and, wherever possible, Snehalaya is fully committed to keeping families together. During COVID many families have been extremely vulnerable and have struggled to keep food on the table and also care for and protect their children. We have been reaching out to as many communities as we can to provide support to help families stay safe, healthy and together. When, in March 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic, the government shut down the whole of India there was little time to prepare, especially for low income workers who depend on daily work to feed their families. As many were also isolating in cramped conditions, there were serious impacts on mental health and stress leading to increased quarrels between husband and wife, domestic violence and pressure to reduce the burdens they were facing through child marriages and abandoning or relinquishing their babies.

One family living in a rural village close to Ahmednagar felt all of this. The father with the responsibility of a wife and two children to support shares his story: “I used to work every day and support my family on whatever I could find. One day a storm called lockdown hit us. Of course, this storm, released by the government, hit the whole country but no one seemed to have considered the poor, blind, disabled, orphans and children. Many lost their jobs during the storm and the means of making any money were restricted.” For this family there was no work or income which essentially meant no food. The huge question of how they were going to survive was causing arguments which was affecting the children, including their six-month-old girl.

The father desperately wanted to take care of his daughter but with his own mental condition deteriorating due to the added stress of lockdown restrictions he felt he had no option but to legally hand her over to Snehalaya, where he knew she would be safe with plenty of food, medical and other support. Our Adoption Center Team realised that the mother and father loved their children and had made their heart-breaking decision to put their baby up for adoption based on the helplessness they felt due to the COVID situation. Thinking only of the best interests of their child, who they felt unable to care for at the time, they had made a hasty decision to secure them a better future.

Realising their decision was in response to a temporary crisis, we asked the family to speak with our counselling team. They were able to mediate the arguing couple and help the father through his depression to restore his mental balance. Once the couple was stable and back on track we were able to reverse their decision and legally hand the girl back to her parents. Today, thanks to Snehankur, the family’s life is back to normal and they are a secure happy unit once more. We continue to keep in touch with them and are ready to support them again whenever they need.

Without our support there is no knowing what would have happened to this baby girl and her family and we thank you for your support in ensuring we can be there for this and many more families like them.

Save the Date: GlobalGiving's Little by Little Campaign takes place September 13-17 with all eligible donations up to $50 matched at 50%.

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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - India
Website:
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Twitter: @Snehalaya
Project Leader:
Joyce Connolly
epsom, Surrey United Kingdom
$44,897 raised of $50,000 goal
 
576 donations
$5,103 to go
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