Sheela Bal Bhavan was established using the Bhatnagars’ personal savings, but the funds required to keep the home operational year after year come from Can Serve Foundation (“Can Serve”), a charitable trust.
The home is sustained through yearly donations from Can Serve donors, who are each assigned a particular child to sponsor. The funds are then transferred to the Can Care Trust in India, which oversees the operations at SBB and is administered by an Indian board.
How does it work? Each sponsor is matched with a specific child, to whom they become something of a surrogate parent. Most sponsors are matched with younger girls, so that they have the opportunity to watch the girl grow and develop.
Is it a big commitment? That depends on you. Many of our sponsors develop close relationships to their SBB “daughter.” Indeed, several of our sponsors have visited the home and report that this is an incredibly rewarding experience. Many of our sponsors exchange letters with their sponsor daughter, or send a package on her birthday, whilst others keep in touch by reading updates sent from the home. In summary, the sponsorship experience is as “hands-on” as you want it to be.
How much does it cost? We have different levels of annual sponsorship.
Contact us to learn more about our different sponsorship levels.
Where does my money go? Your sponsorship donations go toward the daily expenses of the home. This includes: food, utilities, tutoring, school supplies, clothing, and staff salaries. Your money also helps to support the costs of the girls’ post-secondary education. Funds are also used to pay for extra-curricular activities, such as dance classes, and group outings.
I can’t commit to a yearly donation, how else can I contribute? We accept donations via our website for any amount that you can afford. Additionally, the home also accepts female volunteers (see below).
“The expectations are very different in India, for girls… my hope is that these girls will help change the situation for other girls and women in the future”
“After our daughter’s visit at SBB, she conveyed to us that she felt the girls were loved by the people who cared for them, and that they loved each other as true sisters. We think this sense of family and love is central to the development of these girls (or anyone), and we hope that [our sponsor daughter] will truly feel that”
“I feel that investing in education is the best way to reduce extreme poverty. I also feel very confident about the girls’ upbringing at SBB, and I appreciate that it is mostly managed by Indians”
“SBB’s is an inspiring story, the idea of helping an abandoned or orphan girl get a caring upbringing, a family, a good education and a springboard to a full, rounded life in India, which has been such a hostile environment for such girls, was very compelling, especially for a modest annual stipend. The notion of actually getting personally involved with the home and the child was very appealing too”
“[I am] blown away by their resilience and the bonds they have with each other. I find it powerful – that the girls have each other”
“[Our bond is] not a casual relationship… if she’s getting married, I want to go to the wedding!”
St. George’s School of Montreal began its affiliation with Sheela Bal Bhavan in 1992 under the stewardship of then-principal Bahadur Bhatla, a family friend of the Bhatnagars.
Funds raised by St. George’s pay for the girls’ school fees from pre-primary to secondary school.
The most significant connection between St. George’s and SBB comes from the biennial trip that sends a dozen students to visit Sheela Bal Bhavan over the winter holidays. Lead since its inception in 1995 by St. George’s teacher Bill Nevin, the students spend a week at SBB meeting the girls, visiting their school, and ringing in the New Year before heading off for another week of sightseeing in nearby Delhi and Agra. Alumni of these trips refer to each other as “Trippers”.
St. George’s is an integral part of the SBB community, as the bulk of Can Serve sponsors are parents of ex-Trippers who undertake the commitment after being inspired by their children’s experiences.
For the students who attend these trips, the experience is often life changing. For many students this is their first experience travelling abroad, however, the culture shock of the subcontinent is tempered by the similarities they find between themselves and the girls at SBB.
Volunteers typically commit 1-3 months living at SBB. They live at the home, immersing themselves in the day-to-day activities of SBB; as such, they form an integral part of the emotional support system for the girls.
Volunteer duties and activities
Volunteers walk the girls to school every morning, eat meals with them, help them with their homework, and most importantly they act as “didi”, which is Hindi for “elder sister”. They are an important source of affection for the younger girls, confidantes to the older girls, and conversational English teachers for all.
Each volunteer develops her own rapport with the girls and brings a different skill-set: some teach yoga and dance classes, others plan art projects, and sometimes they will cook foods not commonly eaten in Indian households, like pasta or pancakes with maple syrup. Volunteers have come from all over the world, including Canada, Spain, England, and New Zealand.
If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch to learn more. Please note that the home only accepts female volunteers.