Ulrike Hilgers, writes from Germany about her association with Snehalaya My name is Ulrike Hilgers. I am from Germany and have been working as a German Representative of Snehalaya NGO for the last 7 years. In the year 2008, I visited Snehalaya for the first time with my brother Sanjay Adhav. It was then that I met Dr. Girish Kulkarni, the Founder of Snehalaya and some of his sincere colleagues.
They introduced me to all their work and the projects that they undertook, which deeply impressed me and aroused my interest in it.
Snehankur- the adoption center with so many babies is touching phenomenon.
Everything is very clean there. I was also introduced to Himmatgram, a new area for HIV People, with hospital and farms, the Bal bhavans, the Red Light Area. Through all these projects, Snehalaya is working hard for the welfare of the Females and children in distress. They noted my interest in Snehalaya and asked me to be with them. Now I come to India every year and visit Snehalaya to add my little share to the vast noble work.
Snehalaya was founded in the year 1989 by Dr. Girish Kulkarni with his devoted team of workers. Dr. Girish Kulkarni is one of the greatest people I have every met. Dr. Girish Kulkarni firmly believes in “Every child and woman has right to lead a life – free from discrimination, inequality, and exploitation. This is the key to our nation-building.“ Snehalaya has been simultaneously executing a lot of projects which are of utmost basic importance in India.
Snehankur: An adoption center is a professionally managed, licensed adoption center. Since 2005, hundreds of children have been rescued, rehabilitated and placed in good homes. The center is managed by a qualified team of social workers, child care specialists, consulting pediatricians, legal advisors, family counselors and coordinators.
Snehalaya’s Rehabilitation Centre is a home and future for HIV infected women and children, children of prostitutes, rescued minors from the flesh trade and other neglected sections of our society. Currently, 280 children and 45 women are sheltered. Snehalaya is providing good quality education, nutritious and healthy food, proper shelter and clothing and personality development of the children. Above all, Snehalaya is changing their lives with proper education, love, and affection.
Bal Bhawan are unique models of social change for children living in the slums. Snehalaya runs Balbhawans in community halls of slums in Sanjay Nagar, Dashrathnagar, Mukund Nagar, Ramwadi, Bharaskar Nagar and Borkar Nagar. Activities such as playgroup education, tuitions for older children, health check-up camps, creating awareness about communal harmony, good health, cleanliness, consequences of bad habits, addictions and child marriages are conducted at the Bal Bhawan by Snehalaya. Almost 900 children are receiving primary
education in this way.
Snehalaya, through its Snehjyot project, runs dispensaries for sexually exploited women in the red light areas of Ahmednagar, Kopargaon, Shrirampur, Shevgaon, and Jamkhed. Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) is provided for over 1500 HIV infected patients at half the cost of treatment by well-qualified doctors. Besides healthcare, Snehalaya also runs day and night care centers for children in these areas, manages women’s small saving groups conduct regular counseling, distributes contraceptives and regularly rescues minors from red light areas.
The youth is the strongest force to bring about a change in society. Youth sensitization camps are conducted twice a year by Snehalaya to nurture a sense of social harmony, unity, dignity for labor, obligation towards society and the nation. Almost 500 young boys and girls come together for 5 days. They are also introduced to the problems in slums, rural and red light areas.
Snehalaya is providing quality computer education to the children from red light areas, slums, rural areas. The center is started recently in
August 2009. This center also conducts courses for personality development and spoken English. About 100 students are benefiting from this center, finding a better future.
Anamprem: This is a Home for Deaf, The Blind and The Silent Kids.It is really Godly work done with all love and sympathy to make life endurable and enjoyable for those unfortunate victims of cruel fate.
“Satyamev Jayate” ( Truth Always Wins):- Satyamev Jayate was a unique TV Campaign conducted by Aamir Khan, a well-known great Actor, Director and Producer. In the various episodes of this programme, Aamir Khan brought to light the different, detestable evils like feticides, dowry system, corruption in the society. The very first episode dealt with the problem of female feticide. At last, Aamir Khan appealed to the viewers to financially help Snehalaya performing a creditable role in this field.
On 26th January 2013, Aamir Khan visited Snehalaya with his georegous team of musicians and activists. He studied the various Projects undertaken by Snehalaya and spoke to the kids and prostitutes to know more about their life. He was greatly impressed by Snehalaya, its zealous workers and the work done quite transparently by them. As such, Amir Khan has now become a member of the Snehalaya family. On 26th Jan 2013, I also happened to personally meet Anna Hajareji, the great selfless social worker, the uncompromising, a staunch activist trying wholeheartedly to destroy all corruption in India.
Through his Satyamev Jayate Amir Khan sensitized the Indian minds about social realities. The first anniversary of this campaign was celebrated on 1st May 2013 at Snehalaya in Ahmednagar in a most meaningful way. This celebration was attended by eminent guests of honor, Mr. Amir Khan Himself, along with Hon. Mr. Anna Hajare, social scientist Dr. Praveen Patkar, the M.D. of Sakal Media Group Mr. Abhijit Pawar as well as Satyamev Jayate’s founder team members Mrs. Swati and Satyajit Bhatkal & Mr. Lancy Fernandes were present on the dias. Mrs. Jaya Jogdand and Mr. Naresh Katore are the trustees of Snehalaya who are from the beneficiary community of Snehalaya represented the NGO on the dias.
1st Anniversary of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ & Workshop on Human Trafficking marked by Social Interaction & Churning of Realities, attended by Social Workers & Representatives of Social Institutions, nearly 150 NGOs also came there to know,more about our work.
It is Indeed , a matter of pride and pleasure for me to be an active member of this NGO with honest, hard working team headed by Dr. Girish Kulkarni striving with all his might and mind for the bright, happy future of the unfortunate victims of the ill luck and outdated, unjust traditions and customs prevalent in the Indian society . Dr. Girish Kulkarni is the soul of this body known as Snehalaya giving selfless, soothing sacred service to the suffering souls in the society.
I am happy to note here that many German volunteers are coming forward through German Website developed by me to be able to join hands with the pious platform called Snehalaya. Here from Germany, I am searching for donors and sponsors for our kids in Snehalaya. So far, I have been able to sponsor 61 children who are under the care of German donors. Our youngest Sponsor or Godsister- Cecilia is a little girl of 7 years only. She has been helping a little girl from Snehalaya. As a result, Cecilia is very happy about it.
My journey continues with Snehalaya and I know it is a never-ending journey as it provides peace to me.