New Chair of Trustees
One month in post, Sheila shares her thoughts.
‘It is an honour to have been selected as the next Chair of Trustees for Scottish Love in Action.
I have been involved with Scottish Love in Action for many years since first being inspired by Gillie Davidson, our founder. I visited Tuni, where the charity started, in 2013. In 2015-16, I was proud of my role in helping Scottish Love in Action find “new projects” to support – Rainbow Homes and VOICE 4 Girls.
The work which our Indian partners carry out in supporting children and young people in Hyderabad is amazing – and I would like to highlight the story of two girls representative of the many girls and boys Scottish Love in Action supports. You may be familiar with parts of these stories, but I want to update you on what happened next.’
From scavenger to student
Prasanna lived on the street, scavenging, sometimes working as a maid, and sleeping under a canvas awning with her grandmother. The social worker for our programme partner met Prasanna when she was 10. Prasanna was invited to live in ASRITHA Home, where she learnt about nutrition and health and was helped with her schoolwork.
In 2018, I was in Hyderabad on the day Prasanna was accepted into the prestigious Osmania University to study nursing and midwifery. She is now in her final year. Prasanna’s life has been transformed thanks to the support of people like you.
Prasanna as a nursing and midwifery student
Maheshwari … what happened next?
Maheshwari featured in our Radio 4 Charity Appeal on International Women’s Day 2020.
Maheshwari went to a camp run by our programme partner, VOICE 4 Girls. Afterwards, she persuaded her father – a farmer scratching a living in the Indian countryside – not to marry off her sister before the legal age. Maheshwari’s knowhow and boldness was thanks to what she learned at the camp.
Our programme partner caught up with Maheshwari to find out what happened next. She is now a Sakhi (leader) for the camp programme in her school, passing on what she learnt to younger girls. Maheshwari hopes to go to university to study farming, so she can help her parents and wider family.
Anusha (left), Executive Director of VOICE 4 Girls, and Maheshwari (right)
In India, the COVID pandemic overturned the progress made in recent years. It’s heart-breaking to see people whose lives had improved, cruelly pushed back into poverty. In January 2020, just before the pandemic started, I went on the SLA visit to India. Since then, all communication with India has been by Zoom. Our programme partners, Rainbow Homes and VOICE 4 Girls, have been devastated by COVID. But I am pleased to say they have turned the problems into opportunities and that we are supporting their new initiatives.
VOICE 4 Girls
VOICE 4 Girls is using their experience during the pandemic in delivering programmes online, to create a new programme – the LEAD project. Scottish Love in Action is supporting this programme. This exciting initiative sees them train up and support older girls to be “Senior Sakhis” (leaders) who go into villages and communities to deliver the programme – “VOICE in a box”. Instead of only reaching the children who go to camp, this model will help them reach even more children.
ASRITHA Rainbow Homes
When Covid started, the government tried to close down all children’s homes. Our programme partner, Rainbow Homes, created a programme to help the children who had been removed from the Home. I am pleased to say that most of the children are back living in the Home, getting the support they need.
Rainbow Homes is using this experience to extend their work by creating a “community support programme”. This will help with nutrition, health and education, but will enable them to reach street children.
At the start of the pandemic, we began supporting a new programme, the “Livelihoods Project”. This initiative helps young adults from Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore to pursue a vocational career. We faced challenges because of the pandemic, but I’m pleased to say that the project is running. Each programme is tailored to the interests of the young person.
We can only support these inspirational programmes with your help.
We have some fundraising initiatives this Autumn, and these are covered elsewhere in this newsletter. You can support these programmes and have fun at the same time! When you donate or fundraise or volunteer, I invite you to think of Prasanna and Maheshwari and the other children that you are helping.
I would love to hear from you – please email firstname.lastname@example.org