28 October 2011

Deep Griha October Newsletter

   Dear Friends and supporters,

The Monsoon season at Deep Griha has been a busy one. On the 5th July we celebrated Deep Griha’s 36th Birthday; P1010573volunteers, staff and supporters were all in attendance. There was dancing, singing, games, presentations, food and thank yous to the supporters who could make it. It was a joyous day and enjoyed by everyone. The following day all of the staff and volunteers ventured out to Vidyanagari and the City of Child. On arrival we were all treated to Pune’s best Wada Pav! Then, with the representatives from Centrica (who are sponsoring the construction of the second school building), we symbolically ‘broke the ground’, and construction is now underway! After this we all had a delicious lunch at the City of Child followed by the inauguration of the Chapel there in memory of Rev. Bhaskar Onawale. Towards the end of July an ex-Deep Griha volunteer visited us, and she spent some time at the City of Knowledge running a training programme with the teachers, whilst other international volunteers ran a variety of activity sessions for the students.

At the beginning of August DISHA and Wake Up Pune held their second Melava + event, a matrimonial meet for people livingIMG_3102 with HIV. This event built on last year’s success, there were 150 attendees and around 40 international and local volunteers. On the 15th of August it was Independence Day and Deep Griha held celebrations at the Tadiwala Road office. Also in August Dr Neela Onawale was presented with an award from the SAKAL Social Foundation, a social platform by the Sakal Media Group. She was awarded the title of Guru Smaran Samajratna Puraskar 2011 in the area of health for Deep Griha’s longstanding commitment to medical care, nutrition and HIV/AIDS. 

September and October saw Deep Griha partnering with Sheep Stop once more. Sheep Stop were again selling their beautiful organic tshirts, and for every 2 tshirts sold at certain locations around Pune, they donated one to Deep Griha along with some funds too. Whilst the t-shirts were being sold, volunteers from Deep Griha were also there to spread awareness about Deep Griha amongst the people of Pune. 

 Finally, Dr Neela Onawale is currently on a 7 week tour of the US and UK visiting and speaking to supporters of Deep Griha. 

There is always a lot going on at Deep Griha so for more information on any of the above stories or any other recent news stories, please visit our website. Also photos from all these events, and more, are always uploaded on to our Flikr account

30 Years of Volunteers

This year sees 30 years since Deep Griha opened up its door to overseas volunteers, and our volunteer programme is still going strong. Currently we have 10 international volunteers working with us on a number of different projects and Petra, foreign doctor volunteering with health check-ups. programmes, from teaching English with the DISHA ladies, running Wake Up Pune, helping out in the crèches and balwadis, to running medical check-ups with the children, and activities with the children and youth at the DIYA drop in centre at Ramtekedi. We are also happy to announce that we have two Sangam Volunteers working with us through the Sangam Tare Programme. Twice a year Sangam (an International Girl Guiding training centre in Pune) receives volunteers from all over the world on to their Tare Programme, and they place the volunteers with local charitable organisations. Deep Griha has a long standing relationship with Sangam, although this is the first year that we have received long term volunteers from them. We are fortunate that the two volunteers are qualified nurses, so along with Dr Prakash they have been carrying out medical check-ups on the children in all our crèches and balwadis, as well as teaching English and running activity sessions on healthy lifestyles.If you or anyone you know would be interested in volunteering with us for a few weeks, few months or a year, feel free to get in touch with us at

The Light

The Deep Griha 2012 Calendar is now available for sale through the website, for worldwide delivery! The cost is Rs. 500 ($10 or 6 GBP) plus postage and packaging.

To purchase a calendar simply go to the online givng centre ( on the website. Select 'click here to make a donation towards items on the Wishlist or from the Shop'  and donate as a guest. On the form, please fill in 'Calendar 2012' as the Wishlist 'Project Name' and pay the appropriate amount for the number of calendars you require (all payments on the site must be paid in dollars). Upon receiving your payment Deep Griha will contact you to organise postage.    

The theme of this year’s calendar is the Light, and focuses on the various programmes run by Deep Griha. So we thought we would use this newsletter to look at the Aadhar Kendra programme (Child Sponsorship Programme) and one of their success stories, Bismillah Patel, who is now an employee of Deep Griha. 

Bismillah Patel was born in the Khadda slum in Pune. Her father died when she was 1, leaving her mother to care for BismillahBismillah and her two siblings. While Bismillah’s mother struggled to make enough money to feed her family, Bismillah was left alone with her older brother and sister in their small cloth house- a house which offered little protection against monsoon rains or cold. She said: “My mother always worried for our safety when she was out working, but she had no alternative.” 

Bismillah’s sister remained uneducated as she had to care for her younger siblings, but at the age of 10 the family found out about Deep Griha. Bismillah was placed in Deep Griha’s balwadi programme so her sister could attend school and learn to read and write. Although both girls were now being cared for, the Patel’s poor financial condition continued to make things difficult and Bismillah was then signed onto the Aadhar Kendra programme. When asked about this, Bismillah said: “that’s the moment when my life started to take shape. I began my formal education through Aadhar Kendra. The efforts made and the genuine willingness of the staff at Deep Griha to help me, and all the other children to study was motivating.”

Bismillah came first in her class from 1st to 8th standard, she finished her 10th standard exams and looked forward to further education with the hope to become a teacher, but life was to take another turn. Shortly after she passed her exams, her mother arranged for her to be married, and soon Bismillah was married at the age of 15. At the time the fieldworkers tried to persuade her mother otherwise but it was not possible, and after marriage Bismillah was busy with family life and her ambition to become a school teacher seemed like a distant dream.

Five years later, an opportunity arose for Bismillah to come back and work for Deep Griha. She joined ‘Sure Start’ as a fieldworker, this provided her with the momentum to fulfil her dream to study further. With Deep Griha’s assistance, Bismillah passed her 12th standard exams successfully, and she is now working on her bachelor’s degree. Alongside this she continues to work for Deep Griha on our Women’s Empowerment programme.

Bismillah says that she is now happy with her life, and you only have to look at her to know this is true. She shines with inner confidence. “I am happy with my family (husband and daughter), I enjoy my work, and I lead a satisfying life. Thanks to Deep Griha, I am standing on my own two feet today and I can help other people. The English meaning of Deep Griha is ‘light house’, and I will always be thankful to them for the light they brought to my life.”

Bismillah is just one example of someone who has benefited from the work that Deep Griha does. Every year around 74,000 people benefit from the work of Deep Griha!  

Want to help Deep Griha this Christmas?

As the festive season approaches, have you thought about what you will be buying for friends and family this year? How about having a look at the Deep Griha Wish List? There are a variety of different items at a range of prices that can be bought online. So have a look and see what you can give to someone this Christmas!  And don’t forget about the calendar too!

Our website is constantly being updated with new stories about recent activities. For all latest news keep an eye on our website or visit our Facebook page

Wishing you a happy Diwali and Christmas Season, 

The Deep Griha Team

This newsletter has been complied by volunteers Susannah Hodge and Heather Carlson and formatted and edited by Joseph Bird.


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