A Future for Homeless Street Children
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.
 
Snehasadan
MV Road, Behind Holy Family Church, Chakala, Andheri East, 
Mumbai 400093Tel 022-26873694, 26872945

 

Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

Towards Freedom from Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is not even acknowledged as a reality by many, say trainers from Arpan who are trying to create awareness about this taboo subject
 
In  India, talking about sex and sexuality is still a taboo. Child sexual abuse (CSA) is not even acknowledged as a reality. People were shocked when Pooja Taparia started creating awareness about the issue. She is the founder of the NGO, Arpan, which started work in this area in 2007. It came into being with a team of just two or three people who started conducting awareness sessions, training various stakeholders like children, parents, teachers, civil society groups, clubs, etc.
 
Going back to her own early work in this field, Pooja recalls, “The inspiration to start working on the issue came when I watched a play on CSA and was deeply moved by it. The play depicted the trauma faced by a survivor of sexual abuse as she carries on with her life, makes decisions, develops relationships and the fears and crisis she experiences in her everyday life. The play shook me from the core. The understanding that children are violated (the violation of not only child’s body but the trust implicit in care-giving relationship) and the revelation that child sexual abuse can be psychologically traumatic and disturb a person’s everyday experience of self and others if not supported and healed at the appropriate time, unsettled me. So I decided to do something about it.”
 
Arpan evolved an effective two-pronged strategy—prevention and healing—to reduce the occurrence of CSA and heal its psychological, social, sexual and physical consequences. Its preventative programme is called ‘Personal Safety Education’ (PSE) and is the core programme. PSE is conducted in private, semi-private and government schools and institutions. The programme aims to empower children by imparting age-appropriate knowledge, information and skills related to personal safety and by building their self-esteem to prevent and protect them from sexual abuse. The programme also includes awareness and skill enhancement of adults like parents, teachers and institutional caretakers who are the primary stakeholders in a child’s life. These stakeholders are empowered with adequate information and skills about CSA so that they can create strong safety and support networks around children in their respective environments.
 
The second part of Arpan’s work is to provide psycho-therapeutic support to children who report cases of attempted and continued sexual abuse. Qualified psychologists work with survivors of CSA and their families to heal the trauma and impact they faced. “We work at various levels to help restore the child’s sense of self awareness, self-worth, create safe and supportive environment, stabilisation, help the child to process the trauma and reach re-integration,” says Pooja.
 
Over the past eight years, Arpan has reached out to over 22,000 children and adults directly through its training and capacity building programmes.
 
An anecdote narrated by a parent illustrates the effectiveness of Arpan’s efforts. “When an uncle tried to kiss my child who has borderline mental retardation, the child categorically said: ‘NO, do not kiss me. I will not allow’… I did not think the child would understand, you trained us and her takeaway is so high that now I am confident that she will be able to protect herself.” The child is just under four years old. Donations can be made in the name of Arpan by demand draft or cheque, payable in Mumbai. Donors will receive a receipt as well as the 80G certificate for income-tax exemption.
 
Arpan
1st Floor, Delta Chemicals Pvt Ltd., 
J/1, Cama Industrial Zone, 
Off. Valbhatt Road, Goregaon East, 
Mumbai 400063, India.
Phone 022 2686 2444 / 2686 8444

 

Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

COMMENTS

Narendra Doshi

4 years ago

Pooja, Kudos for work in this area.

Doctors for Ethical Practices

Efforts of committed medical practitioners to promote ethics in the profession

 
In the early 1990s, a group of doctors, dismayed at the regulatory sloth of the Indian Medical Council, which had led to a rampant increase in unethical medical practices, decided it was time for some action. Eight doctors, known for their ethical practices and concern for the public health system, established the Forum for Medical Ethics (FME) in 1992. 
 
They contested the Maharashtra Medical Council elections and, as expected, lost because of massive rigging of the elections by those supported by money-power and politics. But, as Dr Sunil Pandya, a founder of FME, says: “We were able to generate a public debate on the need for ethics in the elections to medical councils and their role and responsibility through the media”. The FME documented the electoral malpractices in detail and filed a PIL (public interest litigation) in the Bombay High Court. It won the case; the elections were pronounced invalid due to rigging. 
 
The court battle also led to greater bonding and professional camaraderie, which eventually resulted in the formal registration of the Forum for Medical Ethics Society (FMES) with the charity commissioner (Mumbai) as a voluntary, non-profit organisation. 
 
FMES started out by holding monthly meetings to discuss issues in medical ethics and publishing a quarterly newsletter called Medical Ethics. The Society had no funds and worked only with volunteers, who also happened to be reputed medical practitioners passionate about upholding the Hippocratic Oath. 
 
Medical Ethics began as an eight-page quarterly newsletter in August 1993, but soon doubled and quadrupled the pages as it gained wider support from the profession and the public. In January 1996, it was renamed Issues in Medical Ethics and after 2004 is known as the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. It is now an internationally refereed journal and is also available online. Every submission to the Journal is scrutinised by the editorial staff and then by referees within India or abroad. The Journal’s editorial board comprises well-known international experts from countries as varied in health services as the US, UK, South Africa, China and Belgium, etc. It is being indexed by PubMed.
 
Initially, the Society’s work, mainly the publication of the Journal, was done through volunteering and funds raised from individual donors. Dr Sanjay Nagral, the current publisher of the Journal, says: “Someone donated the paper and someone paid for the printing. All of us worked for free. Even the ‘offices’ of Journal were located in the home of one of the volunteers!” But once the activities expanded, Dr Amar Jesani, another founder member of the Society, suggested holding a biennial ‘National Bioethics Conference’, the surpluses of which were ploughed into funding the Journal. The conferences are held at a teaching institution to keep overheads low. 
 
As with all activities that espouse professional ethics, raising funds for FME’s activities, especially the Journal, is a challenge. “Since we do not accept advertisements from pharma companies as a matter of principle, we have to depend on philanthropists to support the cause. Also, now that we have put the Journal online and traffic on the website is huge, maintaining the website requires professional staff as well as funds,” says Dr Nagral. 
 
The Journal is widely read—not just by doctors but by activists, development professionals and policy-makers. Not surprisingly, that segment of the readership is much larger than that of medical professionals!
 
Donations to FMES are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80G of the Income-Tax Act. You can donate online; the details are given on the Forum’s website. 
 
Forum for Medical Ethics Society
 
0-18, Bhavna, Veer Savarkar Marg, Prabhadevi, Mumbai - 400 025 INDIA 
Telephone: 07506265856
Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

4 years ago

While it is a lame excuse, an effect-and-cause story, many doctors justify excessive monetary benefits as pay-back for expensive studies.

The cost of medical education may be high but budding doctors go in with their eyes open. Then ask how many would prefer a doctor as a match for one's child and WHY? It's the money, honey. And it's our society that feeds the unethical standards.

We live in a country where the idiom is "Competitive Corruption".

Bhavesh, are you listening?

Bapoo M. Malcolm

Narendra Doshi

4 years ago

KUDOS FOR YOUR EFFORTS

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

online financial advisory
Pathbreakers
Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
online financia advisory
The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Online Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
financial magazines online
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
financial magazines in india
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)