by Corinne Yank, GoPhil Communications Manager

“I feel instead of looking at the conditions in which the kids are born, we should look at how we are helping them live better – that is what is important.”

– Lalitha, SMS Founder

As you may know, SMS is the only center of its kind providing 24-hour support desperately needed for children growing up on the infamous GB Road – the second largest red light district in the world. These children are living on the outskirts of society, in extremely high-risk environments, with little to no other protection and facing immense prejudice. The number of children receiving essential care and support fluctuates slightly, but in June 2019 there were over 70 children enrolled.

SMS Center never turns a child away due to limited capacity or funds – no matter the challenge, they make it work. In the last quarter, they enrolled 12 new children, and re-enrolled 4 children who returned to the center after a long gap, thanks to the dedication and continuous efforts of the small, yet hard-working team.

When raids occur in the red-light district, or when mothers get sent to another area temporarily, they often take their children from the center and disappear for weeks at a time. When this happens, the SMS team has to try to track them down and convince mothers to allow their children to return to the center to continue their education and ensure their safety.

SMS recently organized several excursions for the children, including an art walk and visit to the Lodhi Art Gallery and a picnic with activities in Lodhi gardens. These outings are so crucial because most of the kids rarely get the chance to leave GB Road. SMS also held a summer camp which included art classes, yoga and meditation, computer class, dance and more, to keep them busy and engaged during the two-month summer break from school. Having plenty of activities is also especially important during summer break in order to prevent the children from spending too much time on the streets where risk of exploitation and exposure to violence is high.

SMS Center also conducted many health activities this year, providing free hemoglobin testing for all the children and free eye testing for the children and members of the surrounding community. A life skills class was also held for the older children. Classes like these are so important for the older children, as the risk of trafficking and exploitation increases as they mature and enter the workforce.

SMS Center provides children the opportunity to experience life beyond the horrors of GB Road and be kids again – to learn, grow and be inspired. The SMS team works tirelessly and courageously around the clock, stretching their resources and achieving so much with the support they receive from our GoPhil community.

Impressively, out of 2,000 children that have come through the SMS center over the years, not one of them has followed in their parents footsteps and gone or been forced into sex work; on the contrary, many have gone on to attend university and pursue careers in social work, software engineering, healthcare and many more. 

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