Recently, Holt program directors around the world sent letters to child sponsors — sharing about the impact they made in the lives of children and families in 2021. Read the letter from Vaishali Vahikar, director of sponsorship at Holt’s partner BSSK in Pune, India.
As the sponsorship programme director for Holt partner BSSK in Pune, India, I have been working as a community worker to empower and support vulnerable children for the last 25 years. I have seen the difference you make in the life of your sponsored child, and in the lives of all of our children. And I would like to thank you for your heartfelt support during this past challenging year.
The parents of the children in sponsorship are in need of many services and support — whether it is with housing, financial help, mental and physical health, disabilities, family support or family strengthening.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the lives of children and families are returning back to normal as a “new normal.” The Government of India has accelerated the vaccination drive and is reaching out to populations above 18 years in priority. Soon the younger ones will be covered, and the schools and other educational institutions can then assure safe and healthy environments for them.
Since the beginning of year 2021, my team and I have been identifying basic needs of the sponsored children to help them have a healthy and progressive year ahead. We have gradually switched our services — such as home visits with families — from online to offline, taking proper care and precautions.
Frequent online and offline contacts with children and their families helped identify their dire needs. The issues being addressed professionally include:
• Emotional management to help children cope with restricted movement and limited social interaction.
• Prevention of child marriages, which is a greater risk during the pandemic — especially for girls.
• Educational loss among smaller children who have not yet stepped in a classroom, and older ones who have regressed in their skills.
• Excessive use of screen time due to continuous online classes, which has resulted in mental and emotional health issues among some children.
• Excessive rains resulting in floods in the areas of Sangli and Chiplun, which has affected children’s wellbeing.
With your support, vulnerable children learned about emotions and how to cope during COVID-19.
You have helped meet many basic and emergency needs for your sponsored child. You have helped to provide educational materials, basic literacy materials, high-protein mix powder to boost immunity, emergency food grains, medical care, housing support and personal care kits — relieving the children and families of much uncertainty.
In the last six months, your support has also helped to provide training sessions for parents and children on topics such as appreciation of children, healthy parenting and foundational literacy. The children especially enjoy the activities to refresh and connect to their real self.
On behalf of everyone at BSSK, I would like to thank you for your very generous support and donations in these difficult times. Thank you for helping every child to have a loving and secure home.
Vaishali Vahikar | Sponsorship Program Director, Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK)
Learn more about Holt’s work in India!
See how sponsors and donors create a brighter, more hopeful future for children and families in India!