Snehasadan strives to provide every child on the street a home filled with love
Home, sweet home! Every child needs it for love, care and nurturing and every orphan and street child yearns for it. Snehasadan, a non-government organisation in Mumbai, has provided such care, and a future, to over 40,000 street children over the past 52 years.
The best testimony to its work is the inspiring story of Amin Sheikh—a street child who has become the proud owner of a travel enterprise and a published writer. Amin says that his life changed from the day he entered Snehasadan, thanks to the love and nurturing he received. His book, the story of his life—Bombay Mumbai: Life is Life, I am Because of You—was published in January 2013 and his goal is to set up a restaurant that will give a break to those like him.
How did it all start?
Troubled by the large numbers of street children who lived on pavements and railway stations around Andheri (a Mumbai suburb), a Spanish priest, Fr Ricardo Frances, in the year 1962, began to invite them into his home in the evenings and offer them shelter for the night. The boys belonged to different castes and backgrounds. The one thing they had in common was that they were on their own, on the street, through difficult circumstances.
In 1985, it gained national recognition. President Zail Singh presented Fr Placido Fonseca, director Snehasadan, the 1985 National Award for Child Welfare. Snehasadan now runs 16 homes for orphans and street children.
The reason for Snehasadan’s existence is clearly spelt out by Father Placido Fonseca as follows: “On the streets children are exposed to every vile and filth that a city offers and they are easy victims. Many of them are minus an arm or a leg, while moving in and out of running trains. Several die and no one cares. Their numbers are increasing as more and more children pour into the city. They have different needs—some of which have to be met soon. They are our tomorrow, and only if we can respond to their need, lift them off the street and give them a reason to live their life, can I say that I have done my duty. To achieve this, none of us is as strong as all of us. If we put our hands, hearts and heads together I am sure Mumbai will be different because of us.”
Rehabilitation in Snehasadan includes housing, education, career counselling and, finally, marriage. Vartharaj’s story is an example of how beautifully this works! He was just 11 when he entered Snehasadan in 1966. He completed his schooling and went on to do a course in welding. He then married Shakuntala, also a Snehasadan child, in 1987. He became a house parent within Snehasadan in 1994. He and his wife and two daughters now care for 10 homeless children.
According to Snehasadan staff, donations by cheque (in favour of “Director Snehasadan”), cash or kind are welcome. It is eligible to accept foreign donations and all donations can be made online. Donations in kind could include eatables, groceries, toiletries, study materials, clothes, gifts, toys, computers, utensils, furniture and electrical items. Volunteers are also welcome for teaching and personality development of children growing up in Snehasadan.
Finally, information about street children is also useful to Snehasadan staff. Railway staff work in conjunction with Snehasadan staff in providing information to vulnerable children, so that they can start living in Snehasadan.
MV Road, Behind Holy Family Church, Chakala, Andheri East,
Mumbai 400093Tel 022-26873694, 26872945