While the pandemic may be over, we continue to deal with the aftermath. Many children missed school and a 2022 survey found more than 80% of public schools reported 'stunted behavioural and socio-economic development' in their students, post-pandemic. With girls missing from classrooms, there was a dramatic rise in child marriage during lockdowns and subsequent limitations on public gatherings. Your support of our children’s education has never been more important and we truly appreciate it. Thanks to you our slums schools directly connect with the most vulnerable childen. This is just one of their stories.
Seema lives in Sanjay Nagar, one of Ahmednagar’s slums where we operate. She is from a tribal community where, before our intervention, girls would only stay in education until 4th or 5th standard and would be married by ages 14 to 15. Seema saw many girls marrying like this, including her elder sister, a child bride. Seema was terrified she would suffer the same fate as she approached her teen years.
She approached our Balbavan team who counseled her parents about the laws around marriage and shared Seema’s wishes to continue studying. They explained the benefits of education that would enable her to stand on her own feet. They also advised that they would encourage Seema to inform the authorities if they forced her to marry. Once they understood the law and that to marry their daughter would be a crime they agreed not to marry her. Seema also realised that continuing her education would give her more options in life and having escaped marriage, she committed to going to school every day.
Seema embraced school, where she made friends with many boys and girls from different communities. She enthusiastically participated in every activity, was often number one in sports, and attended our Balbhavan after-school classes. Whenever she had a problem, she would come to our Balbhavan team immediately and would not go home until the problem was resolved.
Building confidence, Seema started to explore the independence education was giving her. Traditionally, the women in her community wear Punjabi dresses, but Seema wanted to dress in her own style. There was a backlash from her close-knit community who called her names for how she dressed and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t married yet as girls in her community were not allowed to pursue higher education. None of this deterred Seema and no matter what people said, she would not stop her education. Having listened to us, her father now fully supported her decision and wanted his daughter to study, make a name for herself in society and stand on her own feet.
Seema wanted to break from tradition and provide a role model for other girls in her community. Initially, not all of the girls studied or were interested in education, but as they saw Seema participating in all the programs and games of the Balbhavan and receiving rewards for it, more of the younger boys and girls also started coming to our Balbhavan. Seeing their children flourish, slowly, the people of the old society started seeing the positives in Seema, and more parents started sending their children to our classes.
Presently she represents the girls of Balbhavan and her Shikal Kari Samaj and works as a team member in our PMAY project to transform Sanjay Nagar into an ideal slum and is purchasing one of the new homes for her family. She is a shining example to her whole community and all of our staff and beneficiaries. She takes part in all activities and has taken over the financial responsibility of her house and family while also pursuing further education. Seema is an inspiration to all.
Thank you for helping Seema grow into an educated and mature young women who is now giving back to her community, she couldn't have achieved this without your support.
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.
Both of Juganu’s parents were killed in a car accident, orphaning her and her two younger brothers when she was just six years old. With no relatives to care for them, they grew up in orphanages and at 19 years old, Juganu came to our Snehadhar project.
As her name suggests, Juganu was used to fighting her own battles but her life took a new turn once she joined us. A calm and stable physical young woman, her face always reflected her hopes for a bright future. With a 12th pass and active in academic study and cultural activities, we secured her admission in further education. She balanced this with various other activities, including college competitions, vocational training in computing, incense stick making, beauty parlor and stitching.
Having gained a wealth of skills she volunteered for our Snehalaya projects, earning extra money by stitching clothes and taking orders for Mehndi during cultural functions. But she didn't stop there. She started a job as a hospital receptionist. With our guidance, support and motivation she was very successful. After graduation, she continued volunteering for our project where, seeing her skill set and honesty she was recruited as a helpline attendant.
Now our sparkle girl has completed four months with our helpline creating a new world she can stand on her own feet with great self-image, confidence and realistic hopes for her future as she has recently enrolled in college to do a masters in psychology.
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 help fund committed girls like Jaganu. Look out for reminders from us nearer the time.
Thank you so much for your support of our girls' education, it's thanks to you that this year our children celebrated a 100% pass rate of their 10 and 12 standard exams.
You are not only helping girls receive their own right to education you are also encouraging and empowering them to advocate for all girls' rights. On12 June, #WorldAntiChildLabourDay, our Rehab Center girls, volunteers and Childline teams marched with government stakeholders to raise awareness to stop child exploitation. You can watch the video on the link below which gives you front-row seats to the highlight of the day, a powerful street play that got everyone's attention on the streets of Ahmednagar.
We will be marching again on 17 June as part of our #Malaladay program. Our Malala Peer Mentors from our Rehab Center will once again join Childline to promote girls' education in villages identified as hotspots for child marriage by our Udaan project.
We are committed to empowering women and girls to help them reach their ambitions. One example of a girl you have helped is Mangal, originally from Aurangabad. Her mother died when she was very young and her father died when she was seven. She was cared for by her older sister until she was 10, when she was brought to Snehalaya.
We provided her a home and education as well as lively functions, while encouraging her and helping her to make her dreams come true. These dreams were to become a nurse and when she was 18 she completed our three-month bedside assistant nursing course in our hospital. Mangal has worked as a nurse in our hospital for four years now, serving our children and people living with AIDS. She gets a lot of satisfaction from doing this work and also being able to surround the patients, especially the seriously ill ones, with positive vibes.
She says: “After being selected for the Nursing Course, my enthusiasm doubled up as I knew someone was paying and supporting me to achieve something in life, and I had to prove my worth and give the best that I could.”
The fact that you support girls like Mangal encourages them to achieve their best. Every penny you donate counts towards transforming lives of so many vulnerable 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 girls like Mangal.
Thank you so much for your support of our girls’ education. It has been an incredibly challenging few years for our students as they have spent most of their time learning online. Our 10 and 12 Std exams have just finished. We hope you join us in wishing our girls good luck, we will be waiting with baited breath to see whether our teachers have managed to keep them on track during the pandemic. We had 100% pass rates last year so fingers crossed we manage the same again. Education is so important to our girls and their families and play a key role in breaking the cycles of poverty that exist in our slums.
As an example, Hema lives in Siddharthnagar, mainly known for its fights, gambling dens, and liquor sales, and has been attending our Balbhavan for the last seven years. Her father is a laborer, her mother is a housemaid and her brother also works to help his family. Despite being brought up in an impoverished family, Hema has shone as a brilliant and talented student, enthusiastically participating in every school and Balbhavan activity. Last year, she passed her 12 std with excellent marks of 83%. This helped her gain admission for ANM to study nursing. The course fees are well beyond the family’s reach but thanks to your generous support we have been able to sponsor her education and she is on track to fulfil her dreams and ultimately uplift her family’s financial and social status.
We are so grateful that you believe in our work and want to help our beneficiaries. We wouldn’t exist without you so I truly do appreciate everything you have done to support us, thank you!
Wishing you a very happy Diwali from your Snehalaya family. We are all so happy that the current COVID situation here in Ahmednagar has improved enough that we can enjoy a return to some of the traditional celebrations of the Festival of Light.
We are also able to welcome back some of our older girls who have moved away to study in college or vocational training centers. It's so great to welcome them back into the fold to celebrate with us and to hear their stories of how they are progressing in fields such as mechanical and software engineering. For the rest of our girls, unfortunately, our Rehab Center which is home to over 250 children and women, is still in lockdown and we are entertaining our children with a range of activities, gifts, new clothes, entertainment which will culminate in a party this Sunday.
As our English Medium School closed for the Diwali holidays, some serious bargaining was going on it its first ever jumble sale. The kids managed everything and we certainly have some entrepreneurs in the making. This was their final activity at the end of a week of exams and they are now enjoying a very well-deserved Diwali break.
Also earlier this week, we were also able to celebrate Diwali with some of our slum children as we reopened their refurbished center in one of our city's most crowded slums. We have also distributed gifts to women and children in our other projects, including a sari distribution to our female sex workers.
None of this would be possible without your support and we are sincerely grateful to you for ensuring we can give our women and children their own family Diwali celebrations.
Are you thinking of donating before the end of the year? If so, 30 November is Giving Tuesday and there is US$1 million in match-funding up for grabs. Save the date to make your donation go even further this giving season.
We wish you a healthy, safe and prosperous festive season and new year.
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