Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love'
Vishal recently organised a camp for 80 youths
Vishal recently organised a camp for 80 youths

Thank you for your support of our projects in India which are rescuing vulnerable women and children from dangerous and life-threatening situations. By providing them a safe home and the opportunities to change their destinies we are seeing remarkable results and we have you to thank for that.

With the glamour and glitter of the Oscars only just starting to fade, we thought we would introduce you to some of our recent video hits made in Snehalaya that share these stories of success and showcase our own home-grown talent. Please take your seat and enjoy the show.


We were honoured to have award-winning documentary film-maker Lotje Sodderland visit our projects last year and she interviewed and made this beautiful film of one of our former beneficiaries Prisha. Sold to a brothel when she was 12, Prisha managed to get to phone to contact our Childline who rescued and brought her to our Rehabilitation Center where she found a loving home and was given the education to help her fulfil her ambition of becoming a nurse. You can watch Prisha's story here.

On track

Vishal is another former beneficiary who has recently returned to Snehalaya to lead our youth project which aims to introduce social work to the next generation of change-makers. Growing up in one of our red-light areas surrounded by pimps and gangsters he had fallen into petty crime and his future didn't look good. A traumatic life-changing moment followed by the death of his HIV-positive mother and subsequent move to Snehalaya helped him get his life back on track and today he is proving to be an excellent role model for our younger beneficiaries. You can watch Vishal's story, filmed by our long-term volunteer Nick, here.


While we are lucky enough to have talented film makers visit to help us tell our stories we have also recently been handing the cameras over to our children. Living in an insitution is hard on some children as they crave the freedom to explore the world themselves. When their curiosity led to a spate of attempted runaways we asked the children to think of the dangers that they would face beyond our safety net. They came up with a range of scenarios and settled on a final storyline based on kidnapping and child labour. They then wrote, performed, directed and filmed their story within two days. We think they did an amazing job getting the message across with no further attemps to run away since, you can watch the final cut here.

I am your pride

We are currently mid-way through a year long campaign with Malala Fund to promote girls' education to reduce the commercial sexual exploitation of children. As part of the program we are delivering to girls in our home we asked the children to make their own film based on the campaign theme. Again they wrote, performed, directed and filmed the insightful story of one girl who makes the mistake of complaining about school to her father who decides to relieve himself of the finanical burden of providing his ungrateful daughter an education. Sold as a maid she takes the responsibility of getting an education into her own hands and finally returns to her father to show the success she has acheived on her own. You can see how she does it here.

We hope these videos have given you an insight into who your donation is helping. Some of these stories are hard to watch but they do represent the realities of growing up in our semi-rural area of India and while the situation may sometimes look bleak, with your support we are here to find and help those who are unable to help themselves and give them a brighter future.

It's a wrap for now but if you do want more we have plenty of videos on our YouTube channel that you can watch to learn more about life at our Home of Love and the work you are supporting.

Our kids have a real talent for storytelling
Our kids have a real talent for storytelling


We have 260 children living in our shelter
We have 260 children living in our shelter

Thank you for supporting our project. As we reflect back on our last year there is much to celebrate although it also hasn’t been without its sadness.

We have seen the opening of a new on-site hospital in our children’s shelter specialising in treatment for people living with HIV. Having improved facilities on our beneficiaries’ doorstep has improved our ability to provide medical treatment for our own HIV+ children, saving them visits to other hospitals for routine treatments which in turn has improved their school attendance and results.

We have expanded our vocational training with agriculture and nursing courses which is helping to open more doors for our older children and women living in our rescue shelter when looking for work. Two of our older boys have also become apprentice bakers under the guidance of an artisan baker from Australia who spends his winters in Ahmednagar. Each Friday he fires up his stone-bake oven teaching our boys to produce a range of western-style breads including sourdoughs, baguettes, ciabatta and sweet treats which are sold locally. We are hopeful that once they complete their training their specialised skills will be sought after by bakeries specialising in artisan breads.

We have also embarked on our third campaign with Malala Fund to educate and empower girls to lead the agenda in campaigning for girls’ education and prevent the commercial exploitation of children. Our girls have been enjoying workshops on child and women’s rights, sex education, growing up, gender equality and the importance of girls’ education. We have also been engaging our sex workers, 75% of whom are illiterate, in the campaign to encourage them to make sure they take the opportunity for their full rights to education and avoid the same fate as them. Early next year we will be giving our girls the opportunity to help organise a youth camp to further promote the campaign and meet with education leaders and change-makers.

It’s thanks to you that we are able to offer such a diverse range of support in our ‘Home of Love’ and create a positive place full of happy and energetic children. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that over half of those in our care are living with HIV. Sadly, every now and again we are given a harsh reminder…

Such is tha case of an 11-year-old boy was brought to Snehalaya in August with a range of health problems. His HIV infection had progressed to AIDS, and after numerous tests it became clear he had many of other, unrelated medical issues. The challenges were high and the prognosis was not good. He was made welcome at Snehalaya and our team worked hard to identify his special needs and the extra support they could offer.

When he became seriously ill in October, we made sure he was surrounded by familiar people as he was admitted to the hospital best equipped to help him. Initially his health seemed to improve but eventually an infection got the better of him. When doctors explained that there was no more hope, his care was adjusted to make him as comfortable as possible with the friendly faces of his caregivers holding vigil by his side.  Sadly, early one November morning he passed away. We remain grateful for the time we had with him and that we were there to hold his hand in his last moments.

Your support is ensuring that we are always there for all of our beneficiaries and that we can continue to provide a welcoming, healthy, caring and opportunity-filled environment for those living with HIV, rescued from red light areas and saved from other vulnerable situations.  We also want to make sure they enjoy life to the full while they are with us. As Christmas approaches we want to celebrate the festive season with our family in traditional style. We have invited Santa to visit on Christmas day and he has asked our children to write to him to tell him what gifts they would like. Please watch our video to see how little they ask for. If you would like to help us fulfil their wishes you can do so by donating to our fundraiser.

On behalf of all the staff and beneficiaries you are helping we would also like to wish you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Our baker boys are learning a unique skill
Our baker boys are learning a unique skill
Our children are excited to see Santa again
Our children are excited to see Santa again


Our nurses care for HIV+ patients
Our nurses care for HIV+ patients

Thank you for your support of our shelter homes and projects for women and children. Our recent #HerVoice campaign highlighted some of the reasons why your support is so important in ending violence against women and children. You are enabling us to give the survivors of violence and discrimination new hope and futures to be proud of. Read on to hear one story of how we are helping our beneficiaries to overcome adversity.

There’s an unmistakable spring in the step of a handful of our ladies recently, a notable difference in posture and an undoubted confidence as they happily make their way to work. Even to the passing visitor they stand out from the crowd, conspicuous in the way they are attired in their bright pink uniforms. Their placements started just a few weeks back but they have soon come to realise, as millions in the same industry worldwide, that no two days are ever the same.

This is the nursing and caring profession, and we don’t call them angels without good reason. For these are the stalwarts and backbone of the medical profession. Working tirelessly and doing everything they can to make their patients’ stay as comfortable as possible.

When we recently opoened our new 50-bed Caring Friends Hospital and Research Center it became apparent we would need to recruit more staff. What better place to look than our own doorstep? Our new bedside assistance training course was created to not only meet the needs of our larger hospital but also with the aim of providing job opportunities to our beneficiaries including those living at our shelter home and girls from the local community. It’s an intensive three-month program that is both class-based and delivers practical training in our hospital. At the end of the course there is an exam and those that pass are awarded a government certificate so that they may start work in our new hospital or a placement which we find for them in other medical practices in Ahmednagar.

One of the students that went through this process is 19-year-old Rachna. Rachna has lived in Snehalaya for around four years and has already shown she is a bright and talented young lady excelling at many of the vocational courses we offer, including handicrafts and tailoring. 

As a vocal champion for women’s equality she took center stage with a troupe who were performing street plays for our #StudentsStandwithMalala campaign. Rachna’s voice rose above the traffic and held everyone’s attention as she delivered her speeches with breath-taking sincerity and imagination on busy streets across our district.

She is HIV+ and not afraid to tell you so, as she says: “Why should I stay quiet about this? It’s part of me and who I am”.

Since starting officially in her new role of bedside assistant she’s been a star employee who works with dedication and contentiousness and has that all-important quality of having an easy-going, cheerful rapport with all her patients.

Meal times are busy in the Snehalaya canteen, as around 300 kids and staff sit to take their dinner. At times, you’re hard pushed to hear yourself above the excited chatter as no end of kids want to convey to you their day’s activities and the latest gossip. At one of the dining tables sits Rachna, for once not joining in the conversations of the girls around her. Her normally outgoing demeanour seems to be missing and has given way to a pensive and faraway look. When it becomes painfully clear that something is wrong, one of the girls questions why their friend looks so sad.

“One of my patients died last night”, this statement causes those around her to fall silent and take in what she has said. “I was very fond of her, we were always joking and laughing together, this is why I’m feeling so sad.” All is quiet for a while until one of the group announces: “I think you are a great nurse.” The others nod in agreement. “If I were in hospital, I would want you to take care of me”. This causes Rachna to blush and the faint trace of a smile can be seen.

All the same it’s a situation that all those in the nursing profession must face - the sad fact of losing your first patient prompts a million questions to go through your head: “What else can I have done”?” “What if I had done this?”, “What if I’d have done that?”.

The older and more experienced nurses will tell you it gets easier with time, that you accept this as part of the job, But, no matter how long you've been doing the job, you can’t help but build a bond with those who are in your charge, and it will always be painful if one of them dies. It's a brave step going into the nursing profession as you are never sure what situations you may have to face on a daily basis. For many, the six months’ probation period will be the true test as to whether they really want to do the job.

Rachna says good night to her friends and makes her way to her dorm.

The next morning the group of friends walk through Snehalaya's grounds, some are going to catch the bus that will take them to their colleges or work experience programs. They pass a small group of boys who are doing their morning exercises. Rachna gives a playful slap on the back to a young lad who calls out that she looks like a ‘pink flower’ in her uniform. She makes her way up the hospital steps and to the ICU ward she is working in. She pauses briefly to stop and chat to the visitors who have assembled in the waiting room and then goes to her station where a colleague is packing up after completing her night shift. Rachna is given an update on the night’s activities and agrees to meet up with her friend later.

She gives a big beaming smile to all of her patients and their relatives as she enters her ward and so begins the start of another day in our Caring Friends Hospital.

Our 1st batch of bedside assistants graduate
Our 1st batch of bedside assistants graduate


Deepa loves helping others through nursing
Deepa loves helping others through nursing

“Please God save my daughter from the same fate as me.”

These were the dying words of 15-year-old Deepa’s mother. A sex worker, she had single-handedly brought up her daughter protecting her from the brothel keepers and pimps preying on young girls, but could no longer fight the HIV she had contracted through unprotected sex and was dying of tuberculosis. At her side were her teenage daughter and friend Ashabai, also a sex worker. Deepa’s mother begged her friend to care for Deepa and protect her from a life of prostitution.

Unfortunately Ashabai was also suffering with HIV and her health was poor, affecting her ability to make money to support Deepa. Struggling to support her and against her mother’s dying wishes she had no choice but to put Deepa into sex work. As her health worsened, Ashabai was struggling to pay her hospital bills so she sent Deepa to a brothel in a neighbouring town where she could make more money seeing up to 15 customers during the day and more at night.

The situation for Deepa was horrendous, a constant stream of customers wreaking havoc on her young body and forcing her to have unsafe sex. Aware of the risks and the fate of her mother and guardian she tried to run away three times but was always caught by the brothel keeper and their thugs. Finally she managed to convince a customer to get a message to Ashabai to come and save her.

Ashabai sensing the desperation in the message came to the brothel to try to bring Deepa home with her. The brothel keeper didn’t want to give up the girl who was bringing in so much money. Knowing Ashabai was weak, the brothel keeper beat her hoping she would die from her injuries and Deepa would become their ‘property’.

Fortunately she was stronger than they thought and although very badly beaten she was still alive and taken to hospital. There, she was visited by Snehalaya volunteers investigating her attack. Through tears she confessed her role in Deepa’s fate and begged the team to mount a rescue. Our team raided the brother in the early hours of the morning and despite violent resistance from the brothel keepers, Deepa was found and rescued.

Deepa was brought to Snehalaya, counseled and reenrolled in school. In spite of the traumas she had endured since the death of her mother she adjusted well to her new environment and was soon excelling in her studies. Today Deepa is a nurse in a local hospital and represents Snehalaya at many events, including a National Conference of Freed Commercial Sex Workers, sharing her story and the transformation our intervention has had on her life.

She says: "Even though my morther's worst nightmare was realised when I was forced into sex work, thanks to Snehalaya I now have a very good career which I love. I think my mother would be very happy for me and grateful to everyone who saved me from the brothel."

Through your support we are able to continue to mount rescues to rescue others like Deepa, removing them from horrific and life-threatening situations giving them refuge and the education to make their own life choices. It’s thanks to you that we can continue to confidently report that there are no minor girls working in the sex industry in our district of 4.5 million and that we have reduced second generation prostitution by 70%.

On behalf of all of our rescued girls, thank you.

Deepa with Bollywood star Amir Khan
Deepa with Bollywood star Amir Khan
Deepa with founder Girish - her
Deepa with founder Girish - her 'father'
Deepa & her kitten Meyaooo!
Deepa & her kitten Meyaooo!


Sangeeta still lives & works in a red light area
Sangeeta still lives & works in a red light area

We are excited to announce that with your support we are planning a new programme to help rehabilitate even more sex workers to leave the profession. We will be offering an expanded vocational training and education programme and extending the reach of the sex workers able to access it. Instrumental to the succcess of this will be our outreach and peer educators who, like Sangeeta, completely understand the challenges as they themselves come from and still live in the communities we exist to serve.

When Sangita’s husband died when she was 39, she found herself alone and with no other support available was drawn into prostitution. It gave her the money she needed to live but at the expense of her own self-respect, safety and health. Sangita had become part of a community pushed into the sex trade due to financial crisis, a high-risk group oppressed equally by society, law makers and the government which has to fight for basic rights. Even those brave enough to try to leave prostitution and start a new life are so shunned by society that often they find it easier to return to sex work.

As a female sex worker in our district, Sangita soon heard about the work of Snehalaya to reduce STIs and control the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst sex workers, their clients and partners and sought our help. In 2007, seeing her potential, our Assistant Director convinced her to work with us as a Peer Educator. She immediately started encouraging sex workers to attend regular medical check-ups and HIV and STI tests and conducting activities to raise health awareness and social entitlements. Within a year, she was appointed as a field officer. At first, she found managing the reporting, planning, outreach activity, talking in public and to government officials, whom she had previously been in conflict with, a challenge but she confidently overcame them, finally leaving prostitution to work full time with our project where she has convinced many other FSWs to become peer educators.

She says: “I feel lucky to have been able to break away from the profession and that the women in the sex worker community, my ex-colleagues, have accepted me and made my work easy. I also feel proud of being the first women from this community to be selected as a Maharashtra State field officer and attend the 17th International HIV/ AIDS conference in Mexico as a representative of India, the first lady from the Indian female sex workers community to do so. It was the experience of a lifetime, giving me a sense of achievement… of being someone with a purpose in life.

“I never wanted to be in the profession that circumstances and financial problems pushed me into. Snehalaya offered me a way out by helping others in my community to lead a better life. After 10 years of creating awareness about health and hygiene i'm happy to report all sex workers now insist on using condoms, attend regular health check-ups, second generation prostitution has stopped and many women have left prostitution and make their livelihoods in tailoring, fashion design and embroidery. I personally conduct tailoring classes and run an institute for women who want to start anew and refer their children to shelter homes and schools diverting them away from the hardships of the brothels and slums.”

Sangita has received many awards in recognition of her work, is a member of various district committees and has played a key role in decision making at Snehalaya as a member of our board of trustees since 2013. Like you she believes in supporting women and girls to aspire for more in life and is there to offer her own experience and the guidance required. Thank you - you are helping the Sangeeta's of the future believe in themselves enough to take the leap, leave prostitution and aim higher. 

Pravin led Sangeeta to a happier future
Pravin led Sangeeta to a happier future
Distributing saris to Sangeeta
Distributing saris to Sangeeta's community



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Organization Information

Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: London, Greater London - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Miranda Hudson
London, Greater London United Kingdom

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