We reached the very clean and quiet station of Ahmadnagar at 8am, all refreshed after our peaceful sleep on the overnight train there from Bombay. This is really the most comfortable way to get to Ahmadnagar – by road, the drive can get too long. Thankfully a cloudy day greeted us. Being a drone-prone area, Ahmadnagar faces quite a few dry and hot days through the year. Infact, Meenatai, Snehalaya’s Public Relations Officer, who is also in charge of ensuring visitors to Snehalaya have a comfortable stay, told us that the region had experienced a poor monsoon this year as well as the last. She said, “It’s certainly inadequate but at least we won’t be facing a drought-like situation, as has happened in the past.”
It says on the organizations website that “Snehalaya was started, by a zealous band of youth volunteers in 1989.” What isn’t clear in this sentence is who the real force amongst these volunteers is. And that is Dr. Girish Kulkarni.
It was also one particular incident that led to the formation of Snehalaya. One day, he saw a little girl, three-to-four years old, being bitterly tortured by a brothel-keeper; he was stuffing chilly powder down her genitals! This was really too much to take. Dr. Kulkarni, with the help of a few of his friends, decided to rescue the child from this inhuman atrocity and abuse. Without any help from the police or the state, they brought the child to their own home and cared for her. Little did they now then that that little girl was going to be the first of many whose lives they will change.
Snehalaya offers longterm and shortterm volunteering opportunities. Visit them and spend time with the children, playing and learning with them. Teach the children something about the world that you know. Help them find opportunities in education. Give them advices for career building. Attend their youth programs and Bal Bhavans. Get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org to take this forward.