GoPhil Co-Founder Lydia Dean recently made a visit to India to spend time with Anuradha and the AVANI team, and we have a few stories and updates to share.

Four years ago in India, AVANI rescued a woman who had been thrown out of her home by her husband. Pregnant and with nowhere else to turn, she was forced to give birth to her daughter alone on the streets. Anuradha found this woman and took it upon herself to protect her. The woman’s story eventually garnered media attention and – along with Anuradha’s fierce, unrelenting advocacy – urged the local government to provide funding for the very first AVANI women’s shelter. Members of the GoPhil community also stepped up to provide support for the basic materials and additional costs needed to launch the shelter.

Fast-forward several years later, AVANI is now running not one but four shelters, offering 24-hour, holistic support services for men and women in crisis, from counseling to medical care and much more. The mother whose struggle started it all is now confidently running the plastic recycling division of the AVANI Waste Management Program. Her daughter, who was named “Avani”, recently celebrated her fourth birthday and will soon begin a fully-funded education.

We hope this story helps exemplify the incredible rate at which change is taking place in the communities partnering with AVANI. With each catch-up call or in-person visit with the AVANI team, we are astounded and inspired by the stories of positive healing and transformation happening at both the individual and community level.

AVANI’s Ever-Evolving Programs

As usual, during this last visit, Lydia witnessed firsthand so much exciting, hopeful progress spearheaded by AVANI, which we’ve attempted to summarize for you below:
  • A new AVANI community “campus” will soon open its doors, providing housing and comprehensive emotional, educational and well-being support to the 22 girls currently placed in AVANI’s care — these girls are either without parents or at serious risk, and therefore unable to live with their families for the time being. It is turning out to be a beautiful campus, full of color, flowers and vegetable gardens… the girls are eagerly awaiting move-in day!
  • Lydia spent time with some of the older girls, who told her about all the other programs that AVANI is running and why they’re so important. Several of these girls are budding activists, working toward becoming social workers. Anuradha is going to have them shadow her and learn practical skills.
  • The campus will also act as a learning and vocational training center for the surrounding communities. At the heart of the educational and vocational programs offered will be a strong focus on sustainable connection to the earth.
  • Four shelters are now offering holistic care and counseling services to men and women in crisis, at all hours of the day and night.
  • Over 60 day care and after school centers are supporting migrant and local families working in the sugar cane industry, brickyards, and waste picking communities. The centers ensure not only the safety, but the health, education and overall well-being of these children throughout the year. These centers act as a gateway into the local community, establishing trust with parents who often go on to participate in other AVANI programs.
  • ECF’s Project Raise-inspired gender equity classes are now in full swing, engaging 890 local students in discussions of women’s rights, gender, consent and other important topics.
  • The Waste Management Project is taking off, now able to recycle plastic thanks to increased support and machinery provided by the local government.
  • Through AVANI-supported self-help groups, women are uplifting and supporting one another, advocating for their own rights, gaining micro-loans, and saving money to launch small businesses and group enterprises.

As you can see, AVANI continues to spark extraordinary change through a wide range of innovative programs reaching so many communities.

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