By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent
Guwahati: ‘Snehalaya’ had become operational on January 1, 2001. It was a millennium gift for the homeless and destitute children. On that day, Fr Lukose Cheruvalel, the founder of Snehalaya, started staying at Dhirenpara in a small hut. On the following day, a group of 8 children picked up from Guwahati Railway Station by the Missionaries of Charity joined Snehalaya.
Over the following 17 years, the programme has grown big. Today there are five Snehalaya Homes located strategically in Guwahati, namely: Night Shelter at Paltan Bazar, Children’s Home at Dhirenpara, Auxilium Snehalaya at Noonmati, Jyoti Snehalaya at Beltola and Ila Snehalaya at Betkuchi Guwahati. These form a “garland of love” around the city so that any child in distress can find a place for a short or long stay. Since its inception, more than 2,000 children in need of care and protection have been beneficiaries of the various programmes run by Snehalaya.
A group of like minded ladies who organise Eid Mehfils and Ifter get togethers with children with special needs every year organised the Eid Mehfil programme at Snehalaya Children’s Home at Paltan Bazar in Guwahati. In earlier years, similar programmes were organised at the Guwahati Blind School and Parijat Academy with the aim of creating awareness about Muslim festivals among the non-Muslim children of the society and thereby endeavour to bridge the gap that exists between the different communities in the society.
The Eid Mehfil programme on Sunday commenced with a welcome address given by Dr Shabnam Chodhury, dental surgeon. This was followed by a discourse on Eid festival in which members of the talent search group “Stars of North East” took part.
In addition to anchoring the programme, Tinat Atifa Masood, author and motivation speaker, conducted a session on the concept “I am the best” in which she exhorted the young inmates of Snehalaya to focus on prayers, meditation, reading, exercise, and gratefulness to people in order to earn success in life.
A message from Fr Thadeus Kujur, Director, Snehalaya, wishing the programme success was read out by Fr Jeremias Tirkey, Deputy Director of the Children’s Home.
A set of sports items for badminton, table tennis, and other indoor games were handed over for the inmates of Snehalaya by Nimi Borgohain, Chief Clinical Psychologist at GNRC Hospital Dispur Guwahati; Raahena Sultana Ahmed, former Manager SBI; Teresa Rehman, Managing Editor, Thumbprint Magazine and others.
Arpita Choudhury and Farzan Naib Barlaskar presented patriotic songs and instrumental music respectively. A cultural programme by the inmates of Snehalaya, coordinated by Br Sanjiv Toppo followed. The vote of thanks was offered by Mehbooba Begum, Deputy Secretry, Legislative Department, Govt of Assam. A special mention was made of Nasim Parveen Aman, an MBA student, who looked after the logistics of the programme and Sazish ul Hoque who was in charge of catering of the day.