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Although placed in an orphanage at ten months old by her biological mother, Anu considers herself fortunate. Many unwanted girls in India are killed or thrown in the trash or killed. She says, Growing up in an orphanage was not a pleasant experience as I longed for a family. I felt lost, miserable, and lonely. There was a sense of shame growing up as an orphan and not belonging to anyone.
Yet at a very early age I was aware of a spiritual realm and became desperate to the purpose of life. This desperation gave me a sense and purpose of my call to serve children across India, who are rejected, dejected and are unwanted – Girls specifically. This seed was cultivated over time through many challenges, pain, and loss.
I met my late husband, Mr. Silas, through a training programme. Together we shared the passion to care for orphans and widows; thus, the NGO – Vanitashray was birthed. Unfortunately, shortly after the start of the ministry, Anu lost her husband when suffered a stroke in 2001. She felt devastation, humiliation, and shame for being left as a young widow with two very young daughters.
Through Gods mercy, through the encouragements of many local friends she began to live ‘one day at a time’.
For over 22 years, Vanitashray continues to care for orphans, destitute women, and widows in India. Through the residential program, Anu has raised 54 girls since 1999.
Since 2014 the organization has deinstitutionalized and focusing towards family preservation and kinship. Vanitashray runs preschools and community centres; provides skill training and micro financing for single mothers, widows and destitute women; and empowers and gives dignity to the vulnerable.
No Starving Children : Every Day nutritious meals are cooked in the centre for 80+ children and served them. If a child is fed well, he /she can focus and achieve results.
Vanitashray helps to rescue minors from brothels in partnership with special police teams locally and other parts of Maharashtra. They also feed daily the elderly and ailing commercial sex workers with midday meals in the Red Light District. The group serves as a light in dark places and influences society.
Anu dreams with her eyes open, hence her vision keeps expanding.
About ANUPAMA X Close
About the Founder/Director:
Ms. Anupama Dongardive is the founder and director of Vanitashray, an NGO in India committed to bring forth the best child care practices, family preservation, adoption, and caring for the destitute, widows, and young girls. Anu has a Bachelor of Arts, Masters in Social Work, and post graduation in Human Rights.
Anu believes in networking and collaborating with local likeminded people. She also partners globally with World without Orphans, ARMS- Australia Relief & Mercy Service and Loom International . She also served three year terms as Executive Director for Maharashtra State by,
All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice. In this role she advocated for young girls and stood against child prostitution and child marriages in India.