Snehalaya (www.snehalaya.org) is based in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. It was started in 1989 by a group of young volunteers led by Dr Girish Kulkarni, who were appalled by the violence then being committed upon women and children. They wanted to do something constructive that would help the situation.
The mission of the organization is to develop awareness and capability in those members of society who have been deprived of their rights and exploited because of social inequality. Snehalaya's "Cradle In Every Village" campaign, under their "Save The Girl Child" project, aims to eradicate the practice of female infanticide and foeticide - by encouraging the adoption of girls in cases where the biological parents do not want to or are unable to look after them. If a girl is unwanted, new parents are exhorted to "put up a girl for adoption" instead of resorting to female foeticide. Once relinquished by the parents, the infant would be immediately picked up by a local policeman, a village volunteer, or by NGO workers, and taken to the safety of a child care centre. Under the anti-foeticide campaign, women volunteers monitor pregnancies, ensure that sex determination tests are not carried out, and track mothers till the child is safely delivered.
The "Cradle In Every Village" campaign was launched in Chikhali village of Shrigonda sub-district, which has one of the worst sex ratios in Ahmednagar district: 883 girls to 1,000 boys according to the latest census.
The objectives of Snehalaya's "Save the Girl Child" project are: To provide guidance, counselling and information for families and women to prevent unsafe abortions and illegal transfer of children. To provide shelter, legal help, emotional support and vocational training, and to facilitate social re-integration of unwed mothers and victimized women. To provide superior care and medical help for relinquished children, and to make them feel wanted. To find suitable families for adoption , paving the way for a bright future for the children.
Snehalaya's other activities include supporting destitute children in residential homes, providing shelter and vocational training to women in distress, educating children in slum-based Bal Bhavans, empowering and rehabilitating commercial sex workers so they can lead a better life, providing medical treatment for HIV-positive men and women, managing a 24x7 Childline and rescue operations, regularly saving children and women from abuse, and facilitating adoption and placement of hundreds of infants into loving families.