SNEHA – Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action
A Mumbai-based NGO, SNEHA aims to contribute towards women’s health by targeting the following public health areas – maternal and newborn health, child health and nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and prevention of violence against women and children. A secular organization, it directs its initiatives towards both care seekers and care providers. At the community level, it attempts to bring about women empowerment in slum areas and also collaborates with already existing public health systems so as to raise the standard of urban health in a sustainable manner.
Founded by Dr. Armida Fernandez, the organization is led by noble hearted and efficient trustees – Ms. Mary Patricia Soans, Dr. Sindhu Shanbhag, Dr. Jayshree Mondkar, Ms. Blanche Saldanha, Dr. Ruchi Nanavati and so on. It has a team of 135 people who work closely with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, to bring down as much as possible, incidences of maternal and/or newborn mortality, malnutrition and domestic violence. For maternal and newborn health, SNEHA endeavours to provide better services in the form of health posts, weekly ANC clinics, feedback meetings, well-trained staff (doctors, public health nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives etc.) maternity homes, peripheral and tertiary hospitals and so on. For prevention of violence against women and children, it follows both crisis intervention and counselling to not only minimize cases of violence but also to help people fighting against issues regarding sexual orientation. This program of SNEHA has collaborations with police and legal systems to prevent, report and address cases of violence. It organizes campaigns to educate people on not only violence and its implications as an infringement of human rights, but also deals with crucial issues on gender and sexuality. They also publish reports, present papers and develop a variety of other materials to generate awareness amongst the masses on these issues.
SNEHA Shakti, a wing of this organization, shoulders the responsibility of imparting vocational skills to adolescent girls providing holistic healthcare to senior citizens, facilitating cardiac care for children under 12 years and so on. Its Swasthya Sevika initiative, started in 2004, has successfully completed 17 batches and has equipped 300 Swasthya Sevikas with nursing skills. Another project of this NGO, Quiltessentially SNEHA, was a brainchild of Naina Fernandez, who conceptualised and initiated it in 2009. The aim of this project is to teach women belonging to the adjoining slums a number of skills and also provide employment to them. The women were taught the basics of stitching and use of sewing machines. Silk and cotton patchwork quilts, its flagship products, are diversified to make bags, table linen, cushion covers etc. such that all the materials are used optimally, and give a unique look to all the products. The patchwork symbolically stands for the weaving together of the lives and communities of the areas which are served by SNEHA. The site as well as sales at corporate houses sells these products, which are appreciated by overseas clients also!
Having counselled over 3,500 women who were victims of some or the other form of violence, helped over 15,000 women to deliver safely, empowered over 5,000 adolescents with regard to sexual and reproductive health, and screened over 17,000 children under the age of 5 years for malnutrition, SNEHA is an exemplary organization in its own right. If such visionaries continue to work in unison to eradicate the ills of the society, we shall soon have a cleansed, purged world to live in.