Snehalaya has enjoyed a long-lasting partnership with Leeds Beckett University in the UK since around 2007. The relationship was built on our connections with Dr Hulbe, who worked with the leprosy patients in Sanjay Nagar for many years and suggested we start our Balbhavan there. He is also the founder of Ahmednagar’s Center for Studies in Rural Development (CSRD) college where many of our staff have studied. His daughter Jayashree is the Head of Leeds Beckett India and has brought many visitors to Snehalaya to see our work.
These visits inspired many of the university staff to speak about what they had experienced here in Ahmendagar upon their return to Leeds and led to the establishment of a volunteering program dedicated to sending staff and students to our projects for up to one month every year. Over the years, hundreds of Beckett volunteers have come to see our work in action and have made deep connections with our staff and beneficiaries, becoming valued supporters returning time and time again. In fact, our UK-registered charity was established and is still run by many former university volunteers and connections.
As with many things, the pandemic greatly disrupted our stream of volunteers, including those from Beckett. Therefore, we were really happy when a group of Beckett sports students on a cultural exchange with ISMS, Pune were able to find the time to come and run a range of activities for our Rehab center children in April. Across two days, the students provided sport and wellbeing opportunities for the residents at Snehalaya, incorporating cricket, football, volleyball, Zumba and even colouring in! The visit might have been short, but the team's impact was huge!
We were so happy to have Beckett students back with us, as were our children who had missed them over the past few years. We are currently recruiting more Beckett volunteers, hopefully to visit later this year and are hoping for another batch of sports students to visit next year. If you are interested in volunteering at Snehalaya, please email email@example.com.