SAHAS was initiated by a group of people from diverse backgrounds as a part of social commitment “to give back to society”. The group’s experience of creating awareness on health and hygiene in schools coupled with discussions and consultations with experts and donors established the need to form an organization focused on addressing sexual health and AIDS in Surat.SAHAS was registered in May,1997 and what started as a small initiative, has grown into a national level NGO committed to address health and development issues of the marginalized communities.
SAHAS began by addressing vulnerability to HIV and AIDS among young, migrant males employed in the diamond cutting and polishing industry of Surat and among youth in- and out-of-school. The aim was to increase access to information and clinical services as their concerns relating to sexual and reproductive health issues had earlier remained unarticulated and un-addressed. The experience of working with these two groups increased our understanding of the sexual and reproductive health issues of young people and its importance in terms of their own health and development status and also of the community at large, including women and children.
The insights gained from this work led SAHAS to view HIV and AIDS through a gender and rights perspective and initiate the development approach to tackling HIV and AIDS. Subsequently, SAHAS expanded its operations to other areas such as human rights, health, education and economic empowerment.