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Empowering Young Adults

At Snehalaya, we believe in the power of sustained support and community. Our latest initiative, our Snehabandha project, exemplifies this belief by ensuring that individuals who have left our institute continue to receive the care and guidance they need to thrive independently. We have always provided this to some extent and have recently expanded our provision with aftercare homes where we support those over 18s to live independently. This project goes a step further with a dedicated team providing lifelong support to former beneficiaries.

The project was borne out of last year’s annual reunion of ex-beneficiaries, where we asked our care leavers to share their experiences of growing up in Snehalaya and also how they managed once they left our care. This identified expected and unexpected issues that we are now seeking to address through Snehabandha.

Headed by our former childcare institution superintendent, Samadhan, the team also includes Pooja and Rekha, two former beneficiaries. Between them they have learned and lived experiences of the challenges children in need of care and protection and care-leavers face. They are further supported by other care-leavers, many of who now work at Snehalaya on other projects, our childcare committee of trustees and our child services.

Pooja and Rekha: From Beneficiaries to Leaders

Pooja and Rekha have experienced the life-changing impact of our support through Yashwantrao Chavan Mukta University, where they continued their education once they left Snehalaya’s care. Today, they are financially stable and socialised and are really enthusiastic to share their experiences to give back to the community that once supported them. They have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by individuals transitioning from institutional care to independent living. Their journey is a testament to resilience and the transformative power of education and support.

Learning about the initiation of our project, they immediately jumped on board to help support their little brothers and sisters as they grow and prepare to re-enter society and those who have already left but are struggling to adapt to independence. The fact that they have been there is invaluable, they can empathise with them and share their own journeys which helps prepare our youngsters and support those who have already left our care.

Challenges our care leavers face are similar to those all care-leavers face: health-related issues, particularly to those on medication, who often become negligent about their health once they step out on their own; lack of documentation and therefore identity; lack of family support in finding marriage matches; financial instability; and generally adapting to living without our daily basic needs and psychological support.

The team’s responsibilities include counselling individuals, conducting home visits, and offering support to students and married women facing difficulties at home. The Snehabandha Project is committed to protecting women from domestic violence and ensuring they have a safe and supportive environment. Their role extends beyond just counselling. Pooja and Rekha work closely with the children currently living in Snehalaya, aiming to create a nurturing environment filled with positive memories. Their unique perspective and deep understanding of the struggles faced by these children make their contribution invaluable.

Snehabandha thrives on a community-driven approach. When individuals need financial support, ex-beneficiaries with good jobs and income contribute 50% of the required amount, while the remaining 50% is provided from Snehalaya donations. This collaborative effort ensures that everyone in our community has the support they need to overcome challenges.

Both Pooja and Rekha are profoundly grateful for the continuous support and opportunities provided by Snehalaya. They expressed their gratitude for the emotional and financial assistance that has helped them navigate through life’s challenges. Their journey from beneficiaries to leaders is a source of inspiration for all of us.

Snehabandha is more than just an initiative; it is a testament to the enduring bonds and lasting impact of community support. We refer to Snehalaya as a family and we are dedicated to providing a home our care-leavers know they can return to when they need love and support. With dedicated individuals like Pooja and Rekha leading the way, we are confident that this project will continue to empower many more lives, helping them to achieve their dreams and build a better future.

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