, 
Loading...
SPID-SMS Center2024-05-17T09:51:52-06:00

SPID-SMS Center • India

The SMS center was established in 1991 as the first of its kind to provide the support desperately needed for children growing up on the infamous GB Road. GB Road is the second largest red light district in the world, housing over 95 brothels and an estimated 4,000 sex workers. The SMS Center was opened by the courageous and compassionate Lalitha S.A. when she learned that the vast majority of women on GB Road had been trafficked, lured by false jobs and now forced to live there with their children. Once trafficked to GB Road the restrictive conditions are visible from the street, with bars on the windows and “controllers” keeping close watch over the women.

Lalitha witnessed these children living on the outskirts of society, in extremely high-risk environments, with little to no protection. The SMS center was founded to provide them with a safe and secure environment to sleep and be cared for, away from the influences and dangers of the red-light district. SMS is run by a dedicated team of social workers and is the only center in the area supporting children seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

In 2009, the SMS Center entered a partnership with the Society for Participatory Integrated Development (SPID), an NGO established by social activists and students in Delhi in 2004. The SMS Center is now one of SPID’s programs to support vulnerable communities in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

PROGRAM FOCUS

Providing children access to this shelter is the first step in distancing them from the sex industry, thereby protecting them and their futures. The SMS Center provides a comprehensive package of services including education, protection, nutrition, health and recreation. The main objective of the shelter is to ensure holistic development among the children of sex workers and facilitate them to be able to thrive in society by equipping them with the education and support they deserve.

These children are initially given non-formal education with necessary counseling, and soon after, they are enrolled in the mainstream, public school. The shelter also conducts daily activities like outings and excursions, access to medical specialists or treatments, intensive counseling, creative awareness programs, as well as meetings with mothers for counseling and support.

Even with all the support of the SMS center, the social workers observed that once the daughters of current sex workers turned 18, they became more vulnerable to exploitation and more likely to be forced to follow in their mother’s footsteps. Therefore in 2016 Lalitha S.A and her team established ‘After Care Girl’s Home for Hope’ for students who are over 18 years old and graduate from the center. The After Care Girl’s Home for Hope is seen as a stepping stone to a self-reliant life. At the After Care center, girls are provided facilities and assistance in regards to nutrition, civil rights and overall health. In addition, they have access to career guidance and skill training courses like nursing, computer education, customer relations, office administration, followed by assistance in securing safe, carefully vetted jobs in Delhi.

Along with their intensive work with children and young women, Lalitha and her team conduct daily outreach work in the brothels, setting up basic health care clinics, vaccination drives, supporting mothers and identifying at-risk children in need of support.

WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP

GoPhilanthropic has been a proud partner of the SMS Center since September 2015 and the GoPhil community has supported their efforts in the following ways:

  • Funding for general operational activities, including salaries of core staff such as social workers and childcare workers;
  • Contributions towards critical running costs of the center, such as electricity and building maintenance;
  • Support for a supplementary nutrition program to help improve the nutritional health of children in the center;
  • Funding for educational outings and excursions for the children, to introduce them to life experiences and attractions beyond the GB Road red light district;
  • Organizational capacity building in critical areas of communications, fundraising, networking and policy development.

WHAT MAKES SMS UNIQUE?

The courageousness of Lalitha and her team cannot be overstated. Sex work in India is highly stigmatized, so much so that most social workers are not willing to work in the GB road area, let alone after-hours. The team works hard to protect the identities of the children while simultaneously fighting for their rights and inclusion in society.

Not only is SMS’ mission and work inspiring, it’s incredibly optimistic. Lalitha knows the potential of these children and hasn’t slowed down her efforts, even after 25 years: “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.” Graduated students from the SMS center have gone on to become software engineers and healthcare workers, proving that with adequate support and resources, these marginalized children can become outstanding citizens and take control of their own futures.

If you are interested in supporting SPID-SMS, please email us at [email protected]

LATEST NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE

Go to Top