Case Studies

We are proud to share these selected case studies of our Umeed, Udaan, and Umang alumni.


  • Meena*, 36 : Social Worker

    36-year-old,Meena*from Kolkata has been associated with AAWC for the paste eight years and has been an active participant in all awareness/ empowerment activities, availing support by way of ration, toiletries, counselling and making documents. Unfortunately, due to the lockdown, Meena's income source failed her and survival got very difficult as she didn't have money for any of her essential needs. Her only relief was her ration which was provided by AAWC. When she confessed her difficulties to our outreach workers, they encouraged Meena to brainstorm other ways of earning money. When she expressed an interest in starting her own vegetable business, the ORWs encouraged her to start the venture. In just a few days, she started selling vegetables and was happy that she was earning money. She had support from the police to sell in the area. The ORWs have seen that Meena is able to take care of her finances and deal with customers confidently, though she has not started saving money, she has been able to meet herexpenses.

  • Rekha *

    39-year-old, Rekha* has been associated with AAWC since the past 10 years but throughout her association she did not value or respect the outreach workers. She was more interested in the things she would get from the organization. However, a vast difference has been noticed in her behavior post the pandemic when she saw the relentless commitment and effort the team made during the pandemic. She saw how they met the needs and requirements of the women by making provisions available and has started valuing the presence of the outreach team in the area. Rekha has started actively participating in the activities and volunteers to come forward and help the team with the set up and distribution in thearea.

  • Priti*, 8:

    Priti*, aged 8, has been associated with AAWC since the past four years. During the pandemic she was stuck with her mother in a small dilapidated room in the red-light area during which her health deteriorated immensely. As Priti lost her appetite and hesitated to eat, her education was also at stake. Due to inconsistent engagement in online classes organized by the school, lack of guidance in studies at home and an environment non-conducive to attention on academic or creative development, she acquired some unhealthy habits. She stopped following a schedule and started talking insensitively at times or showing undisciplined behavior. The environment was showing its impact on our young beneficiary. Aware of the loss in academics and health and its potential to aggravate, our staff members collectively took a call to admit the child back to the center. We tested her for COVID-19 and on receiving the negative report, admitted her to the center where staff members worked extensively on an individual basis to make her feel comfortable. She had a one-on-one counseling session and was also involved in group sessions to reacquire healthier habits including following a routine. With adequate and timely nutrition, she regained her focus and began working towards adopting all the habits and routine that she had learned before the lockdown period. She started showing improvements and became actively responsive in her online classes resulting in excellent scores in her online exams. The nourishment and a conducive environment at AAWC help the beneficiary to remain healthy, active and happy!

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  • Udaan

  • Shama*,

    -Shama*was a young child identified in 2018 by a vigilant outreach worker. She was found in a very busy brothel on a red-light street of Kamathipura. Her enrollment at the day and night shelter of AAWC was processed without any delay. Initially shy and hesitant, she soon grew to be more active and mingled with the other children participating in various activities at her kindergarten. Completing the Balwadi curriculum at AAWC, which focused on development of gross and fine motor skills and cognitive development, she graduated to the Udaan program and was soon enrolled in an English medium school. Staff members at AAWC worked with Shama through group sessions to help her improve her academics and to enable her to be emotionally expressive. She is now an active participant in her school activities and has developed a keen interest in craft over the span of her stay. Shama’s mother is no longer worried about her daughter’s future.

  • Rima*, 4 

    4 year-old Rima* could not even hold a spoon when she was first enrolled in the Umang program, due to her health condition. Annoyed by her cranky behavior, her mother used to hit the child which made the child replicate a similar behavior at the AAWC center. Upon understanding the issue, the child was facing, the teachers focused on improving the health of the child by providing timely nutritious meals. They also counselled the mother and Rima soon started showing an improvement in health and also demonstrated a controlled behavior. The child now participates in all the activities and is one of the sincerest children in the Umang program. 

    "Manju Ma’am [AAWC Director Vyas] has been more than just a mentor to me – she is like another parent. I came to her for any advice I needed, and you will still see me visiting the centre today. It is because of Ma’am and AAWC that I have been able to do any of this."

  • Malika Shah*, 26: Accountant at a South Mumbai hospital

    Although Malika was initially quiet and unfocused, she attended counseling and tuitions regularly, until she became known for her wide smile, self-driven personality, and distinctive leadership qualities. Elected repeatedly as one of the four Udaan house leaders, she developed strong management and organisation skills for coordinating daily activities among the girls. While she studied at university, she worked as a part-time accountant at AAWC to support her educational expenses. It was during this time that her mother suffered a sudden heart attack. When Malika took her to a South Mumbai hospital to be treated, she impressed the caretakers and senior management so much with her intellect and maturity that they decided to offer her a position as a full-time accountant. Today, Malika has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and lives in the Dombivali suburbs. We at AAWC are immensely proud to have helped her develop the discipline, talent, and confidence to secure this job all by herself.

  • Safa Shaikh*, 26: Master of Commerce graduate and accountant at a multi-brand department store

    As a child, Safa hated watching as the police extorted bribes from her mother and even sexually assaulted her without fear of legal repercussions. When she reported these crimes to AAWC, staff members helped her file a case with the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Armed with marked currency from the Bureau, she succeeded in securing evidence of extortion by the police officer, who was sentenced to prison after a two-year trial. In the meantime, AAWC helped her excel in her academic studies. When Safa began studying for her Bachelor's degree in Commerce, AAWC placed her as a financial analyst at a multinational bank and found her family a new home in the Numbre suburbs. Today, she has completed her Master's degree in Commerce and is a successful accountant for a multi-brand department store in Andheri.

  • Renu Khambatta*, 25: Social worker at an international nonprofit organisation

    When Renu first joined AAWC at age 10, she was extremely shy. Once, when she was urged to stand up and give a short speech at an AAWC festival, she was so nervous that she began to cry. However, through extensive personality development workshops, her confidence began to soar, especially as she discovered her innate athleticism during AAWC Sports Day competitions. When she completed 12th standard, she was placed at Magic Bus, a nonprofit organisation that moves children out of poverty through mentoring and a sports-based curriculum. Today, Renu lives in the Vasai suburbs and has become a confident and energetic young woman with no signs of her childhood shyness, even addressing thousands of people at a recent Magic Bus event.

  • Avante Jain*, 23: Sales representative at a premier multinational automobile company

    When Avante joined AAWC at age 12, many brothel owners already had their eyes on her, anticipating the high prices they could receive for her unusual looks, height, and fair skin. Eventually, AAWC staff members helped her family relocate to Andheri, where she would be safe from the illicit nighttime activities of the red light area. However, because she had not wanted to switch schools in the middle of the academic year, she continued to attend school in Central Mumbai and came to the AAWC center every day for afterschool activities. Over time, she began to demonstrate strong intellect, leadership, and impressive skills in drawing and painting workshops. During 11th standard, AAWC helped her enroll concurrently in a graphic design class, where a classmate told her about a job vacancy at a showroom run by a multinational automobile company. Emboldened by years of AAWC workshops on interviewing, personality development, and public speaking, she confidently applied for the job. Today, Avante is a poised and polished sales representative at the automaker’s showroom in Worli.

  • Jaya Malhotra*, 22: Social worker at AAWC

    At age 8, Jaya avoided schoolwork as much as possible and went to the AAWC centre only to play carom with her friends. However, she gradually began attending AAWC’s afterschool tuition program and developed an intense interest in learning. Inspired by her teachers at AAWC, she pursued a career in teaching by earning a Higher School Certificate from Open University, a Paraprofessional Certificate in Social Work from Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, and a teaching certification from Muktangan Rehabilitation Center. Today, Jaya works full-time as a kindergarten teacher for the Umang program while studying for a Bachelor's degree in Social Work. When asked about her job, she speaks at length about her love of new challenges and her even greater love for her Umang children.

    "Apne Aap taught me and pushed me to be whatever I wanted to be—I want that for any girl living in the red light district. I want to help these children find their dreams the same way that I was helped."

  • Sonali Gaur*, 10: AAWC night shelter resident

    When Sonali’s mother brought her from Kolkata to Kamathipura, her live-in partner made it very clear that this additional child was unwelcome. As a result, Sonali was sent to an NGO for daycare and night shelter services. However, she fell sick frequently due to the lack of proper hygiene at the NGO, and the inappropriate behavior of boys who stayed at the night shelter caused her to cry constantly when she came home. Today, Sonali loves being a member of AAWC’s day care and night shelter services. She no longer falls sick on a regular basis and feels confident and secure in her night shelter home.

    “At home the neighbours fight all the time and do not allow us to sit in peace. Our house is very small, and I am uncomfortable when I sleep. It is peaceful and bigger here at AAWC, so I can sleep comfortably. After school, we freshen up, change our clothes, take our evening snack, and have tuitions. I especially like to learn English with Paru Didi [Umang teacher]. I also like the food, the workshops (like the art-based therapy clay workshop), and the visits (like the zoo and the water park). At home, I could sleep in as late as I wanted and get up whenever I pleased, but at AAWC, we must get up early to go to school. I don’t like getting up early, but I am always the first to get up every morning, because I am excited to get ready for school.”

  • Thanavi Krishnan*, 11: AAWC night shelter resident

    Thanavi’s mother abandoned her in Kamathipura when she was 4 months old. Under the care of her alcoholic adopted mother, she faced no discipline or consequences for her actions. When she first joined AAWC, she had a habit of collecting tobacco packets and DVDs of C-grade films. The AAWC night shelter brought structure and discipline to her life for the first time and taught her to appreciate education. Today, she is a regular member of the AAWC day program and night shelter.

    “I don’t like to stay at home, because there is a lot of noise, and men are always fighting. There is no peace. I like to stay at the AAWC night shelter. Although my mother loves me, I’m loved more by my teachers at AAWC. I don’t like the food my mother makes, unless she cooks the food we eat at AAWC. During the day, I go to picnics, the water park, the Diwali party, and the Christmas party. At night, I can do my studies and help monitor the younger girls. My favorite part of AAWC is the teachers. Once my mother sent me to another NGO for a few days. There were no tuitions there, and I cried until she let me come back to AAWC. My favorite subjects in school are English and Marathi because I want to become an English and Marathi teacher when I grow up.”

  • Shanti Mehra*, 6: AAWC night shelter resident

    Because there was no one else to take care of her, Shanti used to stand on the steps of the brothel with her mother every day. When she joined AAWC, staff members made special attempts to keep her at the center when she fell ill, instead of sending her home to recover, because she would otherwise return to the brothel doorway beside her mother. Since joining the day care and night shelter programs, Shanti has re-discovered the joyful educational and recreational activities of a proper childhood.

    “I like the tuitions, toys, and food at AAWC. And I like the peace and quiet, when we all put our fingers to our mouth and say, ‘Shhhh.’’ During tuitions, I like to learn the ABCs, 123s, rhymes, and songs. The teachers love me and take me to picnics and waterparks, and bring me gifts. I want to be a teacher when I grow up too. At AAWC, Thanavi* [age 11] is my best friend – she is like an older sister to me and takes care of me. My favorite part of the night shelter are the bedtime stories that the teachers tell us to help us fall asleep.”

  • Umang

  • Disha Shetty*, 6: Student at St. Joseph's School

    Disha was initially a very irregular and isolated Umang student. She was not only extremely shy but also spoke only her native language of Kannada. However, after persistent efforts by the field officers and Umang teachers, she began to enjoy participating in Umang lessons and interacting with her peers and teachers. As she developed good hygiene practices and gained proficiency in both English and Hindi, she became an enthusiastic Umang student. Today, Disha attends St. Joseph’s School, where she is happily pursuing a high-quality English-medium education.

    “It’s only because of the educational training that my daughter received from AAWC that she was able to pass the interview at a renowned private school. I am very proud of her and I am very proud of my decision to trust AAWC with my daughter’s future.” - Disha’s mother

  • Shabana Khatun*, 5: Academic and social leader

    Shabana spoke only Bengali when she arrived at AAWC, where she constantly disrupted lessons by running around the room. Whenever she was told to study, she would claim she had a stomachache and pretend to fall sleep. She also had a habit of isolating herself in one corner of the classroom, reciting Bengali poems by herself while her classmates practiced reciting English poems in unison. Although she refused to participate directly in classes, AAWC teachers realized she was a fast and intuitive learner when she began to call out her classmates' mistakes from her corner, using a curious combination of Bengali, Hindi, and Marathi. Today, Shabana can always be found sitting closest to the teachers, constantly asking and answering questions during lessons. She speaks confidently to friends and strangers alike and has blossomed into a curious and exuberant child.

  • Asma Shaikh*, 4: Boarding home student

    Because Asma’s mother had been paying a caretaker 200 rupees per day, she was very happy to discover Umang’s free daycare program. However, Asma’s isolated home environment and lack of prior nursery school had resulted in antisocial tendencies, including introversion and even an inability to recognize her own mother and sister. Her constant skin infections and lice further hindered her from mingling with her peers in Umang. AAWC field officers began by curing her infections with a strict regime of medicines and creams. Then, they conducted regular field visits to her mother to persuade her to send her and her sister to a partner boarding home. Today, Asma has become a very bright young student and has developed a close relationship with her sister at the boarding home. She looks forward to beginning formal education next year.

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* Name has been changed to protect identity.