The SPID-SMS Center is the only of its kind providing 24-hour desperately needed support for children growing up on Delhi’s infamous GB Road – the second largest red light district in the world. The children are living on the outskirts of society, in extremely high-risk environments, with little to no other protection and facing immense prejudice. With COVID-19 indiscriminately impacting the entire world, these children (and their mothers) are more vulnerable than ever before.

Following is a detailed report offering insight and updates from SMS Center Founder, Lalitha, covering the span of the last several months.

Children at SMS Center

  • In last 6 months, 72 children received care and protection at SPID-SMS Center;
  • 13 children were admitted new/or re-admitted;
  • 45 children were regularly attending formal classes;
  • 1 student had 10th level board exams (awaiting results);
  • As of 30th June, 48 children were staying at SMS Center 24/7;
  • Day scholars were not taken into SMS Center due to COVID-19, but were provided milk and nutrition kits at the brothels;
  • 6 children were returned to their mothers as they were leaving Delhi – a result of COVID-19.

Activities & Health

  • Due to COVID-19, schools are closed and classes are being conducted online;
  • Volunteers organized online classes for arts & crafts, storytelling, wall painting, dance, math, yoga and mask making;
  • Temperature of all the children and staff was regularly monitored on a daily basis and medical checkups were also conducted;
  • Physical growth of children was regularly monitored, with height and weight measured on a monthly basis;
  • On 13 February, a free eye test camp was organized for children, women in prostitution and for the surrounding community and free glasses were distributed;
  • Mental health and counseling sessions in groups and one-on-one continue.

COVID-19 on GB Road

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, SPID-SMS Center has been engaged in relief programs for children and women in prostitution on GB Road. The team is continuously advocating with local government agencies for support in the red light district, disseminating awareness campaigns to improve personal hygiene and maintain social distancing among women, children and youth in the area, and by mobilizing resources to provide milk and supplementary nutrition/dry rations along with sanitary pads and other hygiene products.

Left hand to mouth, the women who live in GB Road have not only had to bear the brunt of the pandemic, but also had to battle misinformation, lack of legal rights as citizens of India, and physical as well as mental health trauma,” reports Paridhi Bhanot for she the people.

“In COVID-19 pandemic situation women in GB road area had no work to do. This not only affected their lives but also affected children. As they had no work, women started migrating from GB Road to their native places or outside the area. Children, who were staying in SPID-SMS, were restored to mothers. Their education will be hampered In this period,” states Lalitha.

With the support of various organizations including GoPhil, SPID-SMS Center was able to provide hygiene kits and dry ration packages to more than 900 women of GB Road and families in the local community since the pandemic began. The distribution of these care packages was successfully completed five times between April and June 2020.

It is with great pride that we continue to share these incredible stories of success from GoPhil partners during what has become one of the most challenging moments in history. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to SPID-SMS Center for the commitment to a better humanity, and to all of the generous GoPhil donors who have supported both SMS Center and the Rapid Response Fund to make this work possible.

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