Sona Sarovar Trust

Focus: Health, Children and Youth

SONA Sarovar Trust seem to have taken inspiration from poet W.H. Auden who wrote: “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water” – and they strive to provide both to those deprived of them.

It all started when founder Sona Kumar was offered a bowl of dirty water to wash her hands clean while on a rural project visit near Mumbai. It proved an eye-opener to how the other half lives – without basic amenities; about how the village women would walk for miles in the night to fetch potable water so they were free during the day to work at a brick kiln.

This triggered the formation of the trust in 2007, with the initial vision to provide water – so they dug wells, built water storage tanks and toilets and also donated solar lamps in villages in the districts of Bhiwandi and Raigadh.

Since then, the trust have narrowed their focus closer to home, to the slums of Mumbai where the same basic amenities are missing – most particularly to the sprawling shanty in Anand Nagar in the city’s suburbs where 22,000 residents live cheek by jowl. This, like other crowded, makeshift colonies, is an ideal breeding ground for petty crime, but not an ideal environment for children to grow up in.

To counter that, Sona Sarovar hold evening sessions at their centre in Anand Nagar for children aged 4 to 14 years, to inculcate moral values through story-telling and play. As most of the 4,000 kids in the locality belong to illiterate parents and attend municipal schools where teaching standards are poor, the trust also provide a tutor to help with homework for the 50 children that regularly attend.

But mostly, giving deprived children the opportunity to have fun is at the core of what Sona Sarovar do. So youngsters are encouraged to sing, dance, draw, paint and take part in extracurricular competitions. Excursions to see movies and celebrating every child’s birthday are also part of the routine.

As 70-year-old Kumar says: “Once a child confessed to me ‘Nani, we love coming here as this is the only place where we are allowed to laugh’…and that made me cry!”

To improve the living environment for their beneficiaries, SST aim to make the Anand Nagar slum a model one and have started many cleanliness measures, such as getting the choked drains cleaned and initiating segregation of waste. However the to-do list, which includes creating greenery, painting walls and repairing toilets, is long and contributions, however small, would go a long way.

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CURRENT PROJECTS
Beautification

KEEN to make Anand Nagar a model slum, SST have started initiatives to make it a clean, green place. Choked drains are being de-clogged, local women are making bags and cards from waste paper to supplement their income, and during the summer vacation walls will be painted and plastic bottles recycled as pots to create greenery. The children have also worked at making their classroom look good. This positively affects their mood and promotes good habits of order, cleanliness and hygiene.

Health

WITH 71% of Mumbai’s slum children found to be stunted – an indicator of malnutrition – compared to the national average of 47%, it is a problem SST can’t ignore. So all minors at their evening classes are medically examined for deficiencies, especially anaemia, and given vitamin, calcium and iron tablets as prescribed. A daily glass of milk and snacks of sprouts, dates, energy bars and bananas are part of the nutrition regime. SST also organise free medical camps for the slum dwellers.

About Sona Sarovar Trust
Testimonials

Goodness is contagious. This trust is spreading goodness. Be it education for slum children, drinking water for villages or medical facilities for the needy. There’s a strong sense of social responsibility in their work. I’m happy to contribute to it.

Sohin Lakhani, donor, Mumbai

I volunteered for 18 months - one of my most cherished experiences. I got to know a different world, working with kids who appreciate every little gift they get. I thought I’d teach kids, but they taught me the valuable lesson of being thankful and happy.

Aishwarya Gupta, volunteer, Mumbai

I have polio in both legs. We had no money for treatment. For 22 years I couldn’t stand on my own feet. We asked Sona Sarovar for help. Thanks to them after two weeks in hospital I walked out on my own on crutches. It was the happiest day of my life!

Ranjana Kamble, beneficiary, Anand Nagar, Mumbai

Ms. Sona works tirelessly and with complete dedication, integrity, and joy. Even being 70 plus young she is ever ready to attend and address the needs of her extended family living in the slum.

Aarti Narang, donor, Mumbai

THE TEAM
  • Pravin Sanghvi Trustee
  • Vijay Joshi Trustee
  • Sona Kumar Managing Trustee
  • Priya Kumar Trustee
  • Chandrakant P Doshi Trustee