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Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India

by Snehalaya 'Home of Love' Vetted since 2014 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
Rescue 615 sex workers & at-risk children in India
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
Our children's forts are so detailed
Mehndi is another Diwali tradition
Mehndi is another Diwali tradition



Here at Snehalaya we've been working to improve the lives of female sex workers since 1989, motivated by the question our founder, Dr Girish Kulkarni, asked himself when taking a short cut through a red light area: "What if this was my sister, my mother, my grandmother?". With this question at the forefront of our minds, we are constantly assessing how we can best help sex workers in the Ahmednagar region.

Your support has enabled us to achieve transformative results in recent years:

  • 100% reduction in second generation prostitution
  • 0 underage sex workers in the Ahmednagar district
  • 96% reduction in STDs since 2005
  • 100% condom use among sex workers

For 30 years we have been providing shelter and education to the children of sex workers, breaking the vicious cycle of second generation sex work, and providing free health check-ups and human rights to the workers. We have also counseled and encouraged them to seek alternative work and leave the profession with limited success. A little over a year ago, in June 2017, we saw the need for a new, more targeted, project for Ahmednagar's female sex workers, and so we established Sneh-Saksham to go one step further and offer them more varied ways out.

We started by surveying 200 of Ahmednagar's 876 registered FSWs to identify those wishing to leave sex work and find out what would motivate them. We found that 38 of them wished to leave immediately, while another 124 wanted to develop a supplemental income that would offer more options in the future. Challenges included a 75% illiteracy rate among them, psychological damage and social stigmas, however we were determined to overcome them. Thus, Sneh-Saksham was born. We decided to focus our efforts on 200 women a year, prioritising those over 35 whose earnings are reduced to as little as US$1.50 per day, those with teenage children most a risk in red light areas and those living with HIV/AIDS.

In the 14 months since the project was established, we've been working hard to identify new opportunities for female sex workers, including both paid employment and self-employment, whilst also providing free counselling, de-addiction programs, training and business start-up materials. By offering sustainable incomes tailored to their own domestic situations and skills, we are extending FSWs working lives and improving their socio-economic status, quality of life and life expectancy. It also allows them to move away from the red-light areas and be reunited with their children who live in our shelter home and help improve their childhood development

We've already successfully rehabilitated and empowered 10 female sex workers, providing them with the opportunity to work in safer, more dignified environments. We couldn't have helped these women without your support, and so we'd like to introduce to you some of the women whose lives you have helped transform.

Sharda lives in the town of Korpargoan where she worked as a sex worker for over 40 years. Sharda wished to leave sex work for a long time, but having spent her entire adult life in the profession, and limited by her illiteracy, she saw little way out.

Sneh-Saksham worked with Sharda to explore her options, and provided her with the resources and advice that she needed to start her own small business. Sharda now runs her own food stand, selling seasonal fruit and vegetable snacks. She is earning a modest living and living a dignified life, even acting as a peer-mentor to other FSWs wishing to leave the industry.

Vijaya lives in the town of Srirampur and had been working as a sex worker for 30 years since a relative forced her into prostitution. Vijaya had never chosen sex work, and was desperate to leave, but, just like Sharda, she felt imprisoned by her circumstances.

Fortunately, as a registered beneficiary of Snehalaya, Viyaya was able to explain her situation to our Sneh-Saksham team. Having developed partnerships with a number of businesses, entrepreneurs and industrialists, Sneh-Saksham was able to connect Vijaya with a number of potential employers, and prepare her for the first job interview of her life. Vijaya was nervous and unconfident, but with Sneh-Saksham's training and advice, she passed her interview with flying colours, and was swiftly offered a job working in the kitchen of a local hotel. Vijaya has now started a new life for herself, having moved away from the red-light district, and enjoys her new profession, as well as being part of the hotel team. Vijaya is now confident and proud, almost unrecognisable from the woman that we first met.

While Sunita was working as a sex worker in Nagar, she fell pregnant and gave birth to a son named Suraj. When Suraj was just 5 years old Sunita realized he was at-risk living with her in Nagar's dangerous red light district, and she gave her blessing for him to be brought to live at our children's home. Sunita did her best to visit Suraj as often as she could, but was restricted by her pimp who wanted her to work.

When Sneh-Saksham surveyed Sunita in 2018 she was among those expressing their desire to leave sex work immediately. Keen to both rehabilitate Sunita, and reunite her permanently with the now teenage Suraj , Sneh-Saksham was able to offer Sunita the opportunity to work in Snehalaya's new Caring Friend's Hospital, on the same campus as our children's shelter home.

Sunita is now living alongside women who have experienced similar situations, surrounded by supportive friends, and, most importantly, she is with her son. These days you will find Sunita constantly smiling as she works hard to keep our hospital pristinely clean. Meanwhile, Suraj is over the moon to be reunited with his Mum, and visibly proud of her new vocation.

Without your support and belief in our work, we wouldn't have been able to provide these strong and courageous women with an alternative to the dangers of sex work. You can help us to continue to rescue and rehabilitate more women just like Sharda, Vijaya and Sunita from the harsh realities of India's sex trade by donating to our projects.

What if it were your mother, your sister, your grandmother?



Anjuna is mother to many children
Anjuna is mother to many children

While some countries celebrate their mothers on different days, the second Sunday in May is celebrated as Mother’s Day by around 100 countries, including India. Although many of our children are orphans, we also honour the day dedicated to motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society and this year we wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the people who support our children every day of the year - you, our champions, and our amazing staff.

Without you, our children would be exposed to the hard realities of life in the red-light areas or living on the streets without people to care and provide for them. With your help we employ 270 staff who support and love our children all across our 18 projects. From the abandoned babies in our adoption center and those liberated from child labour and begging to women and girls rescued from trafficking and sexual abuse, our home of love provides them with the security and affection we expect from our own mothers.

We want to introduce you to some of our Snehlaya mothers, including our house mothers who live with our children 24/7.

Anjuna takes care of some of our younger children. Born to poor, illiterate farmers who believed their daughter should have the education they had missed out on, she was able to she continue and complete her 12th standard even after her arranged marriage. She was happy and content.

One fateful day, Anjuna’s husband was diagnosed with AIDS and just one month later he was dead. Renuka cried all the way to her own hospital test where it was confirmed she too had HIV. Returning home, her in-laws shunned her, refusing even to let her use the bathroom from fear of catching the virus their own son had given her.

Fortunately, she heard about Snehalaya and our hospital dedicated to patients living with HIV. She checked herself in and spent two months there, feeling frustrated, hopeless and suicidal until one day the sound of the children playing and laughing outside snapped her out of her reverie. She started spending time with them, first as a cook then caretaker, and they began calling her mum. With them in mind and our support and encouragement, she returned to study and is now a qualified teacher. She continues to spend the majority of her time with her children, supporting and educating them and like children all over the world they are currently preparing cards and gifts to give to their ‘mother’ this Sunday.

We were established to protect the children of sex workers and while we provide them a home and shelter away from the red-light areas we also encourage their mothers to send as much time with their children as possible. When Abishek fell seriously ill recently we immediately contacted his mother, a sex worker, who dashed to sit by his hospital bedside. She has since spent the past three months with him as he recovers, moving into his dorm and lending a helping hand to his caretaker in looking after his dormitory friends. Seeing her positive impact and her genuine compassion and love for our children we have offered her a full-time job so she can stay with Abishek and leave her former sex work behind her.

She is joining Sai’s mum, Aana. She married very young and unknown to her, her husband used to visit prostitutes where he contracted HIV. Failing to tell Aana, he passed it on to her resulting in her two sons contracting HIV from her at birth. One day, Sai’s dad was in a car accident and was left disabled. Unable to care for him and both her sons, Aana sent her elder son to live with his grandparents. Uneducated, they did not administer his ART medication properly, and as a result, he died. In a state of grief and shock, and already weak from his accident, Sai’s dad died 10 days later.

Aana and Sai needed a miracle and their pastor suggested Snehalaya may be the answer to their prayers. Arriving at Snehalaya, neither Sai nor his mother knew enough about his treatment to give him his medication properly, and he was very weak and thin. We took them both in and with our care and advice Sai is now doing much better spending his days playing cricket and he dreams of becoming a doctor. He really enjoys living in Snehalaya and is particularly happy that he can be with his mother who is now employed in our hospital. We were able to give mother and son a home when they had nothing else. Despite the traumas they have lived through, they are hopeful for the future made possible by your support.

You can help us to support more children and show their mothers your appreciation by donating to our project and if you contribute before midnight on Sunday 13 May you could also help us win bonus funding.

Aana and Sai spend quality time together every day
Aana and Sai spend quality time together every day


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



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Snehalaya 'Home of Love'

Location: London, Greater London - United Kingdom
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Project Leader:
Snehalaya Home of Love
London, Greater London United Kingdom
$131,326 raised of $195,450 goal
1,501 donations
$64,124 to go
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