Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: July 03, 2024

Healing Their Wounds

Little Anjana was just three years old when her father died. By age five, she had already endured a lifetime’s worth of beatings from the man who took his place. At Jyoti Snehalaya (“House of Love”), she rediscovered her childhood—and reclaimed her future.

Jyoti Snehalaya, a long-term shelter for girls ages 5-18, is part of Don Bosco Snehalaya in Assam, India. Originally opened as a boys’ shelter in January 2001, Snehalaya has grown into a comprehensive childcare center. Anjana first found herself there by way of CHILDLINE-Dimapur when she was five.

CHILDLINE is a nationwide, 24-hour toll-free hotline for children in distress. On any given day, literally hundreds of orphaned, abandoned, abused, exploited, trafficked and runaway kids like Anjana dial 1098 for help. Many concerned adults also use the service to report troubling situations involving children.

In many areas throughout India, CHILDLINE partners with Salesian missionaries to implement this critical service.

“This ensures a seamless experience for vulnerable youth who desperately need protection and care,” explains Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “Trained staff answer the phone immediately and initiate efforts to locate the child, pick them up, and bring them to safe overnight shelter at one of our Salesian centers. From there, social workers can assess the child’s comprehensive needs and put together an individualized plan for moving forward.”

In addition to the basics—food, clothing and health assessments—these plans can include trauma counseling, social rehabilitation, and the chance to return to school or enter a vocational training program. Missionaries also work closely with local child welfare organizations to connect youth with other trusted shelters, health clinics, mental health counselors, and more. Additionally, the State Social Welfare Department, which currently operates CHILDLINE-Dimapur, often refers children to Salesian programs.

Which brings us back to Anjana. Thanks to CHILDLINE, she arrived at Don Bosco Snehalaya and immediately entered the Auxilium shelter for girls ages 5-12 where she received professional counseling. She also had the opportunity to interact with other kids — they played games, learned to sing and dance, and attended school together. Slowly, she remembered the joy of her early childhood and healed her wounds.

Now 18, Anjana says that Jyoti Snehalaya is her home. “It gave me back my childhood and added meaning to my life,” she reflects. “Snehalaya takes care of my food and clothing, and has given me an opportunity for education. I am grateful to Snehalaya for its support.”

Just as we are grateful for yours. Thanks to generous friends like you, we were recently able to fund meals, clothing, counseling and educational programs for 142 youth living at Don Bosco Snehalaya.

Learn more about our work in India.

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