The seeds for the Sankat Mochan Kendra were planted in the year 2000 when an unexpected tragedy befell a member of Melbourne’s Indian community—the death of a young mother at childbirth. “The husband didn’t know what to do with the children. At the time they also didn’t know what services were available,” says Sunila Shrivastava, one of the founding members of SMK.
Since then Sunila—who moved to Australia with her husband Arvind in 1973 when the White Australia policy was in place and local Indians were few and far between, and therefore knows the difficulties faced by members of the Indian community—has worked tirelessly towards helping new migrants settle in.
“When I came here, there were only very few people here from Indian families. But I was fortunate enough to find a few,” says Sunila.
Sunila and her friends formed a support group that in 2008 evolved into Sankat Mochan Samiti (SMS), a not-for-profit, spiritual and social welfare organisation with a mission to provide physical, spiritual and moral assistance to members of the community in critical need.
SMK, the fruition of the Sunila’s dream, is a hub for spirituality and social services. If the Kendra proves successful, there are plans to open more around Melbourne.
Published in The Indian Sun / The Indian Sun Person of the Year 2014 Nominee