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Help Educate Girls in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
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Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Help Educate Girls in India
Home schooling
Home schooling

We sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As a valued supporter of our projects we want to reassure you that work on our existing projects continues, despite the challenges the current pandemic and lock down is presenting on a daily basis.

Maharashtra, where we are based, currently has registered the largest number of confirmed cases in India and as a result we have been on lock down since 24 March. Before the national and state governments intervened, we had already taken action by stopping visitors to our 23 projects, reducing our field work and providing our staff and beneficiaries with health and sanitation support. As a direct result of our early interventions, we are happy to report that so far we have no suspected cases of the virus.

Our Rehab Centre (childcare institution) and women's shelter have been closed to visitors since March. Our skeleton staff includes our caregivers who are working hard to keep our women and children busy with educational and recreational activities. We are doing our best to have fun to quell their concerns and have been using technology to continue online classes, while also enjoying treasure hunts, fashion shows, Zumba classes, art exhibitions, Lego building sessions, dance competitions, film making and much, much more.

People living in slums have been hit extra hard as many rely on daily wages to feed their families, as the lock down forced most businesses to close, people who live from day to day have seen their meager incomes and food supplies rapidly disappear. Living in cramped and basic quarters they are also at a higher risk from COVID 19 and our teams have been responding by providing food and hygiene kits and emergency financial relief to help them fight off both the virus and starvation.

Usually we would be reporting on the start of the school year on 15 June but the Indian government has suggested that schools will not reopen until at least October. With India’s extreme lock down closing our own school and after school classes and limited technology available to our pupils, it has been a challenge to continue to support our children’s educations. Our staff, children and their parents have been amazing in rising to the challenge. When strict lock down measures prevented anyone from being outside our slum teachers used Whatsapp to contact students via their parents’ mobile phones. They set tasks and assignments and asked those who could to send photos and videos of their progress. Now lockdown has eased a little our teachers are now able to hold small classes in their own homes and conduct home visits to our 700 pupils, one child at a time, to check in on their work and set more homework.

As our Snehalaya English Medium School for the 200+ children living in our shelter home was also forced to close, our shelter home caregiving staff, some of whom have teaching degrees, have been conducting classes for 1-8 standard, while our older children have been attending daily online classes with volunteer teachers. Not only are our children continuing their education but the routine of school hours is helping them cope with the stress of lock down.

We are relieved that our strong foundations and networks meant we were able to keep our children learning, however UNESCO estimates that there are 700 million girls worldwide affected by school closures. With women and girls making up the majority of caregivers, healthcare providers, and essential workers, we are concerned that many girls will never return to the classroom. With so many families facing extreme poverty and loss of livelihoods, they may feel more pressure to force their daughters into early marriage or child or domestic labour. Our projects such as our slum centers, IT center, vocational training centers, hospital, Childline and other outreach services will continue to promote the importance of education and offer support to enable every girl in our district the opportunity to complete 12 full years of schooling.

Now more than ever, your support is vital. We only exist because of wonderful people like you. While we completely understand your own situation may prevent you from donating, you can still help by spreading the word about our work and raise awareness of the situation for vulnerable women and children in India.

Never before has it been so important to know that we are all in this together. Please take good care to stay safe and healthy.

Keeping girls learning
Keeping girls learning

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Anjun is our own Malala
Anjun is our own Malala

As the chill of winter dissipates and the temperatures start their annual hike towards the high 40’s in degrees Celsius, our students’ determination is also on the rise as we enter exam season. This Tuesday saw many of our beneficiaries face their first 12th standard exam and while it may be getting hot outside they are doing a good job of playing it cool and taking the final challenge of their school days in their stride. So too, our 10th standard students are busy revising for their exams which start on 3 March.

While we may remember our own exams with a shudder, these young people truly appreciate the value of education and obtaining the good qualifications that will sustain them through their futures. They are busy soaking up every opportunity to revise and review their learning, from personal study and after school classes to online Skype classes with volunteers in other Indian cities and the USA. We hope you join us in wishing them luck!

They are hoping for the same success as some of their seniors, like Saba and Anjun.

You may remember Saba as one of the girls who joined us on our Malala Fund-supported education campaign trails where she shared her own fight in securing her right to education. Living in a predominantly Muslim slum with her widowed mother and four siblings, her dead father’s family started applying pressure on her to get married when she was just 15. She approached our team who counselled and helped her convince her family to allow her to pursue her dream of studying engineering. We are delighted to report that she has recently graduated from her University of Pune engineering degree with top marks.

Another success story is Anjun whose parents’ poverty forced them to arrange her marriage. Just three days after the wedding, having been abused by her husband, Anjun managed to escape and travelled the 120 km back to her family who were distraught to have put her in such a bad situation.

The day after her return, she was one of the many to watch ‘He Named me Malala’ at one of our roadshow screenings. After the screening, she thought, “If a 12-year-old can do all of this for her education, I can fight for mine too.' The very next day, Anjun came to Snehalaya asking for our help and with the support of Malala Fund and donors like you we were able to enrol her in a local nursing course. We also offered to support her younger sister to help avoid a similar situation for her. 

Anjun is now a fully qualified nurse, has remarried and has a baby daughter. She says: “Snehalaya allowed me to achieve a brighter future and I want to support other girls who are in difficult situations to do the same.” 

It’s thanks to you and girls like Anjun and Saba that we are able to inspire and support more girls to remain in education and achieve their dreams. We are also grateful to GlobalGiving for selecting us to compete for a place in the Global Girl Fund which supports highly effective projects providing education, legal protection, health care, and access to training and job skills so that girls can thrive - making a difference in their lives and their communities.

We have one week from Monday 6 March to Friday, March 13 (with bonus funding available during the first 24-hours of the campaign) to gain as many unique donations as possible. Eight organizations with the highest number of donors  will  win a year-long spot in the 2020 Girl Fund which could help us raise up to an extra $15,000 to support our girls. If you would like to boost your support, save the date and we will send you a reminder nearer the time.

Our school's 10th standard are a little anxious
Our school's 10th standard are a little anxious

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Mayuri wishes she could have nursed her parents
Mayuri wishes she could have nursed her parents

 

Thank you so much for your support of girls’ education in India. It’s shocking that a reported 60 million girls are still missing from Indian classrooms and it is our mission to ensure that every girl in our district makes it to school and has the ability to be independent. Your donations help us to reach further to spread our message.

Next week, we will be continuing on our girls’ education campaign in partnership with Malala Fund. Among our team of peer mentors who will be leading workshops, conducting street plays and taking part in a street rally, are pupils from 10 local schools. They will be joining our beneficiaries standing side-by-side with them to encourage girls to continue studying and hoping to break down some of the barriers to education for girls living in rural areas by making them aware of their rights.

While the issues of child marriage and labour are some of the main reasons girls miss or leave school early, many of the girls and women who come to live in our shelter homes have missed out on their education for weeks, months or even years or have failed their exams for other reasons. As part of our admission process we aim to re-enrol them in schools and colleges to ensure they complete 10th standard as a minimum. While we encourage all of them to continue into 12th Standard and on to higher education, some like Mayuri prefer to opt for vocational training.

Mayuri grew up in a slum in the shadows of Aurangabad’s district hospital. Her father was a daily wage worker on construction sites and an alcoholic while her mother worked as a housemaid. Their already difficult financial situation was worsening day by day as her parents began to fall sick repeatedly and were finally diagnosed with AIDS.

Both parents quickly succumbed to the illness and Mayuri and her two sisters were tested for HIV: unfortunately, Mayuri and her youngest sister tested as positive. None of their relatives were ready to take responsibility for the orphans, so at just 7 years of age, Mayuri and her two sisters were admitted to Shri Baba Sai Institution.

There she studied up to 10th standard, but failied her final exams and then when she reached 18 unable to stay at the orphanage. Without the qualifications to support herself, she was transferred to our Snehadhar women’s shelter where we gave her extra tuition to help her resit and pass her 10th standard. Having struggled to pass but still very keen to become financially independent, she signed up to our bedside nursing course.

Healthcare is fast becoming one of India’s largest industries - both in terms of revenue and employment - with healthcare delivery, which includes hospitals, nursing homes and old age homes, constituting 65 per cent of the overall health market. Factor in the Indian medical tourism industry worth US$3 billion per year and its plain to see the need for skilled health professionals is rising dramatically. Our Certificate in Bedside Assistance Nursing Training Course (CCBANC) delivers employability-focused training for healthcare assistants through a three-month programme. Located in our Rehabilitation Center, class-based learning is complemented with practical teaching in our on-site, 50-bed hospital, dedicated to the care of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA).

Not only are we able to train our own pool of bedside assistants to meet demand in our expanding health projects, we are also providing our beneficiaries the opportunity to maximise their employment prospects in an expanding sector. The course is also open to those from low socio-economic backgrounds and rural, tribal and at risk communities within our district.

As one of our first graduates, Mayuri is now employed as a nursing assistant at our Caring Friends Hospital and Research Center. She is one of our best staff, treating and caring for HIV+ patients and we continue to support her in her dreams of becoming a qualified nurse.

Girls come to us from a range of backgrounds and all with different reasons for needing our support. Therefore it’s important that our services are as diverse as their needs. We have a range of vocational education courses on offer that you are supporting. Thanks to you, we able to provide solutions that address their separate needs and capabilities giving them the skills and expertise to become successful and financially independent.

Want to give more?

On Tuesday 3 December you can help to give our girls 50% more. #GivingTuesday is an international day of fundraising and Global Giving will be matching all donations we receive that day by 50%, meaning for every $1 you donate we will actually receive $1.50 to deliver our life-changing support.

Graduates jumping for joy outside our hospital
Graduates jumping for joy outside our hospital

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freedom to education
freedom to education

In our earlier report, you joined us for celebrating the success of the 12th standard results of our children. This time we would like you to join us in celebrating the freedom to be educated. Let’s celebrate the freedom to think, freedom to make the decision, freedom to learn and freedom to soar high. We believe in giving equal opportunity for girls to be educated just like a boy. And this time our girls have made us proud. And as proud parents would, we boost their success with head held high.  

On 12th July we celebrated ‘Malala Day’ where we had a get together of our girl beneficiaries who participated last year. And now they have become peer mentors. With the guidance and counseling they have received here, they are now confident enough to offer the same support and help to many other girls who are in need. We are strengthening their dreams by giving them the wings of education.

With you support we are able to provide equal opportunities all our girls. After completing their school and junior college, they now look forward to higher education. Out of 11 other girls who participated in the selection process of MM (Marathwada Mitra Mandal) Polytechnical College, Pune; two girl beneficiaries from our rehabilitation center, Sarita and Vidya have been selected for pursuing a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. After clearing a written entrance examination they qualified for the oral interview round. After clearing the interview, they have been granted a scholarship for a Mechanical Diploma by the SNS Foundation. , They have defied all the odds, inspite of their vulnerable background. One of the girls was sent to the organization as she had a single parent while other one was abandoned only because she was a girl child.

We believe in empowering women and only education can give them the power to break down all the barriers of gender inequality, poverty, violence and enlighten the paths towards a better society at large.

Thank you so much for believing in our girls and helping them to dream big and soar high, this couldn’t have been possible without you. Their futures were in your hands and you delivered! Our deepest gratitude for supporting us and believing that together we can!

Malala Day (12 August 2019)
Malala Day (12 August 2019)

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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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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: Ahmednagar, Maharashtra - India
Website:
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Twitter: @Snehalaya
Project Leader:
Snehalaya Home of Love
London, Greater London United Kingdom
$34,749 raised of $45,000 goal
 
259 donations
$10,251 to go
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