The Department of Women & Child Development, Government of Antra Pradesh awarded Sr. Sangeeta MSMHC with a Certificate of Appreciation, a Plague and a shawl for her efforts towards promoting better living in the society. Sr. Sangeeta is a dedicated and committed religious Sister in Suraksha, a home for women in distress, situated in Ravulpalem, Antra Pradesh. According to Sr. Sangeeta, the distress may be the result of sexual abuse, violence, abandonment, disease, or any other reason. It could be when a woman is not accepted by her family and relatives, society and has nowhere to go to. Thus, Surakshita gives unconditional acceptance, provides a safe home for such women and allows them to live in dignity. It also supports their plans for the future, health and medical needs, learning a livelihood skill, getting justice through legal means, reconciliation with family, education for her children, or any other proposal the individual may suggest for her wellbeing and development.
The need for Surakshita:
PARA (People’s Action for Rural Awakening), is an NGO working in Ravulapalem has a gender desk that takes up cases of local ‘distressed’ women who need legal, social, financial support. They have come across women who probably needed institutional care. In 2014 the villagers near PARA office brought a woman they found on the street with a 12-day old child requesting PARA to help her. They decided to provide shelter for her in PARA’s Office premises. This was in 2010. The director of ‘PARA’, Fr. Thomas Pallithanam soon recognised the need for a home for such women, as the women taking shelter in PARA premises kept growing. It was not possible to keep the women safe and secure or provide the minimum facilities to them at PARA premises. The director of PARA took the decision to establish a separate home for the women. This was the beginning of ‘Surakshita’.
Independent home and staff
The new Home is situated in Indira colony in the Ravulapalem town about 5 Kilometers from PARA office. The construction work was completed in 2014. Perhaps a team of committed staff is more important than the beautiful new building. Fr. Thomas Pallithanam thought of many plans find dedicated staff for the home. Finally, he asked the congregation of the “Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians to take responsibility for the home”. Sr. Ivy Joseph the then provincial of the Bangalore province agreed to take up responsibility for the inmates of the home. She appointed Sr. Sangeeta Gowd and Sr. Mary Arokia as the first staff of Surakshitha. Sr. Sangeeta, the Project Manager manages the office and field (Counseling, Home Placements, Fact Findings, Legal Issues of Women and Girls along with one staff). Sr. Arokia Mary, the Warden sees the needs of the inmates (Material, Human, Health, Spiritual and Psychological needs along with the support of the Staff). The home was inaugurated on 16th August, 2014 by Rev. Fr. Raminedi Balaraju Sdb, Salesian Provincial of Hyderabad Province.
According to the agreement, the home was handed over to MSMHC sisters in the year 2016. From then onwards the sisters are managing its administration by writing different projects. In 2018, we have registered the CCI (Child Care Institution) under Little Flower Welfare Society, Guntur. Up to now around 500 girls and women took shelter and benefitted. 24 of them passed 10th and Intermediate. 5 of them are studying Open Degree. 12 pregnant women were taken care and the children born were given to Sishu Gruha Homes, AP Government. 3 were married off. In 2019, the Central Government sanctioned the Swadhar Greh Project. At present we have 21 of them who are undergoing counselling, vocational training and open schooling. 25 women are coming from out (nearby villages) to learn tailoring. For the tailoring the help is given by the Salesian Missions and Safeway Concessions. Surakshita also organizes various Women Empowerment Programs.