Sahaara, Mumbai is one of those organizations that grew from a voluntary good-to-do initiative to a full-fledged organization. As an initial voluntary effort, they realized that underprivileged people also have a dream; and working with them to help them realize the same is how they could truly change lives. The organisation’s vision thus came to be “Gifting Dreams” and they do so through a bunch of initiatives.
These include Azaad, which is the Hindi word for freedom. Azaad works with prisoners/ex-prisoners in the four prisons of Mumbai as well as in those of Taloja. Their teams visit the prisons on a regular basis and spend time with the prisoners there, with the aim of using their sentence time to prepare them to be acceptable members of society. From basic literacy and medical camps, to value education and counseling, prisoners are equipped with life skills and education. After all, it was the lack of the same that got them into prison in the first place.
Mahima is a home for orphans as well as children whose parents are unable to look after them. Started in July 1999 with just two boys, it is home to 13 boys between 6 and 18 years of age today; the boys are either orphans or have terminally ill parents or are children of trafficked women who are not in a position to care for them.
I spent an afternoon with the thirteen boys of this home and came away so pleased to see how happy and secure they were. It was a rainy day so they boys couldn’t keep themselves from playing football in the gardens below their home. But when I came, they all came by to greet me with polite “Good Afternoons”. They also took me around and showed me their clean rooms, tidy study desks and cupboards and shared with me their likes and dislikes – in impeccable English, might I add. I came away thinking that Mahima is gifting these children a secure family environment and future – and doing a damn good job of the same!
Poor, visually challenged people migrate to Mumbai to fulfil their dream of gaining employment and security. These visually challenged people face a great disadvantage due to their economic status and disability. Worse, due to the lack of permanent accommodation facilities for them, they are often destitute. Hence, they wind up as unwanted yet unavoidable dependents upon other family members and, thus, their marginalization is societal and familial. Sahaara networks with hostels for blind people, and interacts with the visually challenged in these Homes and encourages and counsels them to take up further education or skill development. They support them through this period and process.
Sahaara also runs supplementary education classes at the government run Children’s and Observation Homes in Mankhurd and Matunga. These children are usually runaways, lost, abandoned, orphaned or children in conflict with the law. Whilst here, Sahaara works with them to equip them with good educational skills. This includes giving them a good command over computers – so that once they turn 18 and leave, they stand a chance at finding a decent job.
Then there’s Pratham, which offer pre-primary and supplementary education to children at Chaphewadi in Nerul. This also includes nutritional and medical care. And Parivartan, which provides healthcare, educational, nutritional and counseling services to 350 trafficked women and children. They also offer nutritional, medical and accommodation support to women in prostitution to encourage them to exit the trade and explore other more dignified opportunities. Through Anandalay, Sahaara works closely with children of sex workers to ensure their future is not the same as their mothers’.
Clearly a lot of initiatives to help gift dreams to the underprivileged!