Monday, December 22, 2014

Training Workshops on  Mental Health, Care & Management of Children in Institutional Care

Two- day workshops in December on 19th and 20th

The two-day trainings on Mental Health Interventions and Better Care for Children in Institutional Care on December 19 & 20, 2014, IIC, New Delhi brought forth a lot of issues that staff and volunteers, managing Children’s Homes, in NGOs or even GOs face, and brought structures to many such questions. Workshops were very structured and well thought out on issues like “Discovering and Caring for the Child in Every ‘CASE’”, Ego-resiliency, Working with Caregivers and Group Process and appreciated hugely by nearly 100 participants from Government: DCPOs, CWCs, probation officers, etc. and the NGO staff, even students of psychology. Resource persons consisted of internationally renowned Psychologists, Psychiatrics and Psychoanalysts like Dr. Achal Bhagat, Dr. Monisha Nayar-Akhtar, Dr. Deepak Gupta, Dr. Vikram Dutt, Dr. Shilpa Gupata and Gloria Burret. The highlight of the two days workshops was a skit on the journey of traumatized children, by Udayan Ghar Mehrauli children, assisted by pandies’ theater group. Mr. Aseem Shrivastava, Member Secretary, NCPCR, addressed the valedictory session and emphasized on the need of such workshops and insisted on giving children a fair field and that instead of so much stress upon Child Rights, there should be a lot of stress on Parental, and vicariously Institutional Responsibility. Dr Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee of Udayan Care, said that a lot of training, especially on mental health issues of children, need to be done to develop a cadre of informed workers, who deal with children in institutional care.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Reliving "The Moments of Motherhood"

In my family girls and boys were given equal opportunity in education, sports and arts. For higher education, however the boys took the professional courses while we did our masters degrees. The reason given was that we girls would get married and not do jobs. While one of my sisters protested I declared that it was fine with me to be a mom! I was 13 years old when I said that. Little did I know that that’s just what I’d end up doing. I had 3 children and 6 grandchildren of my own and then joined Udayan Care to become a mom to so many kids! God was really listening! I cannot thank him enough for granting me that wish because the joy and love the children have brought into my life is beyond words.


Today I can’t imagine my life without them. Their traumas, their sorrows, their joys and achievements are all an integral part of my life. I remember the first time one of the girls told me about what she had gone through. She had her head hung low. It broke my heart to see her cringe like that and words failed me. I simply put my hand under her chin, lifted her face up and told her that she had nothing to be ashamed of since the act had been committed by someone else. Till date I can never forget the expression on her face when I said that. Mixed feelings of surprise and disbelief were written large on it for she had lived with that guilt all those years. That night I carried her pain in my heart as I drove back home, fighting the tears that were clouding my vision. That was the turning point in my life, it made me realise that it is not about discipline and consequences but about bonding and support with unconditional and wholehearted love that can enable these kids to free themselves from their past to get on with life.

When 12 cheerful faces greet you with smiles,
When 12 pairs of hands reach out to hold you,
When 12 pairs of eyes are sparkling with love,
What can a mother's heart do, but melt?
When a little head quickly claims your lap,
When loving little arms entwine your neck,
When tiny little hands enfold your hands,
What can a mother's heart do but melt?
When the teenage heart fills with new emotions,
When her mind is full of fears and commotions,
When all she needs is a hug and patience,
What can a mother's heart do but melt?
When a mischievous twinkle lights the eye,
When a longing gaze seeks a gentle touch,
When a craving heart yearns to call you 'ma'
What can a mother's heart do but melt!


Ms. Dolly Anand,

Mentor Mother of 12 Beautiful girls
in Udayan Ghar Mehrauli.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Justice, Tea and Me

The connection between these three would seem far-fetched to anyone. It did to me too as I strolled down a by lane in one of South Delhi’s posh areas, looking for a chai walla (tea seller) who I was told sat there.

The cool evening, the soft March spring breeze and the wonderful smell of green in the air increased my urge for tea. As I approached the chai walla I smelt hot boiled eggs on the way and stopped to have some. I then walked a few quick steps for my chai. “Ek phiki chai, please”(one tea without sugar) I told the chai wala. “Didi thoda time legega.” (It will take a little time) I was happy to stroll around and absorb my surroundings. There was a host of pavement stalls- a guy selling belts, hankies and other odds and ends, 2 chai wallas, busily pouring hot tea into glasses for a handful of  youngsters, a guy selling boiled eggs and a middle aged lady sitting in her khoka (stall) selling namkeens (savouries). Working with an NGO, I wondered if they were able to earn enough for their families, whether their children went to school, where they lived............. 

My thoughts were broken with “Didi chai.” I finally got my tea – the fragrance of freshly pounded adrakh (ginger) and elaichi (cardamom) was intoxicating and everything else escaped me. But not for long. As I sipped my tea I saw three policemen, one really burly, walk menacingly towards the chai wallas. Arms akimbo, they seemed to be questioning them about something. Feeling a little annoyed, I was itching to ask what was wrong.  Mustering courage, I finally went up to the burly official and found out that “Kisi ke teen lakh rupai chori hogaye hain. Isi galli se.” ( someone has been robbed of Rs. 3 lakhs) My next obvious question – “Apko kaise pata in logo ne leye hai?” (How do you know they have stolen it?)

I was told by Mr. Burly that an investigation was necessary. By this time he was threatening the lady in the khoka (Padma – name changed) that if she did not have her MCD licence by the next day he would remove it completely.  

My courage suddenly soared – I think the kadak (strong) chai had something to do with it! I told him     he could do all the investigation he wanted but he could not strip them of their dignity and he could not take away their rozi roti.(livelihood) “Unka bhi to parivar hai, bacche hai. Ye mehnat karke paise kamate hain. Aap inka nuksan nahi kar sakte.” (they also have families and children. They work hard and earn a little money. You cannot harm them).

By this time, Mr. Burly had had enough of  me and said, “Mere pas apki baton ke liye itne energy nahi hai. Yeh mere purview mein nahin hai.  Aap ACP se baat karo.” (I don’t have enery for your discussion. It is not in my purview. Please sepak to the ACP-Assistant Commissioner of Police). Off I trotted to the ACP’s office and I was pleasantly surprised to be treated well!

I shared my annoyance and the grave injustice that was happening with the ACP. He heard me out and at the very end said, “maine he order diya hai.Yeh encroachment ka mamla bhi hai.”(I gave the orders. It is also a matter of encroachment). I wanted to laugh out loud but managed to restrain my urge. Instead, with a subtle degree of sarcasm I asked him to visit my colony – a posh locality but in name only- jaha sabne apne ghar ke bahar ped, paudhe, phool, gamle rakhe hai. Kya ye encroachment nahin hai? (where everyone has encroached land by growing trees, flowers outside their homes). Unfazed ACP said, “Madam yeh hamare purview mein nahin hain.Aap LG se baat kariye.” (this is not in my purview. You   speak to the LG).What’s LG?” I wondered. Lieutenant Governor he clarified seeing my confusion on my face. “Ab to wohi Delhi chalte hai,.” (now he runs Delhi) he hastily offered in case I didn’t know.

Well it was already past 8 and I was sure LG wouldn’t be available then, so I could only seek an appointment the next day. I hailed an auto and went home wondering if would really to help my new found friends and stop them from losing their jobs and their children an education and the very basics of food and shelter.

I couldn’t muster the drive to go to LG the next day . I kept thinking  about Padma and the others but went about my daily routine. About a week later I went to the by lane again and was greeted with smiles and hugs by my friends. “Didi abke wajhe se police ne kuch nahi kiya.” My chai walla said, Padma aur   mujhe licence bhi mil gaya”. (Because of you the police did not harm us. Padma and I also got our licence). Padma wasn’t there but her young son, probably just about entering his teens was at sitting at the stall with a smile on his face.  


They believed I had helped them but I am still doubtful that it all due to me. Yes I did raise a small spark but they took on and lit the fire. The fire of hope and not bending down to injustice.


Meenakshi Kohli,
Child Rights Activist.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Make a Difference in between the "Too Much" happening around!

I wish I could only write about the happy stories I encounter on my trips, but I feel the need to share about these things is much higher than my fun-filled experiences that I share with my friends & family. On my way to Chandigarh, I saw lot of poor children at every traffic light, who were selling small items like balloons, sweets, newspapers, magazines, etc, there were few who were cleaning the car that stops at the traffic signal, some were begging for penny so that they can have food & what not. I mean THAT was the time when I felt bad about my country because of what I have seen in my trip.

It certainly made me feel that India is a land of “Too Much”; too many people, too much poverty, too many orphaned children, too much starvation, too much sickness, too any uneducated children and adults — it can seem overwhelming. On this trip, we saw the aspect of “too much”, but we also realized the potential that is here, waiting to be discovered.

UNICEF estimates that there are 25 million orphaned children in India in 2007. Another study estimates there are about 44 million destitute children and over 12 million orphan and abandoned children in India, yet there are only 5000 (0.04%) adoptions every year. The institutions for children in conflict with the law host about 40,000 children. The wide gap that exists in the knowledge of and attitude towards child adoption and intention to adopt a child between people from different socio-economic backgrounds exposes the need of the state to initiate promotion of child adoption and creating a system of non-institutional care for children above the adoption age.

It seems very easy for people like us to like or comment on social platforms like Facebook, twitter on issues related to Women Empowerment, Right for Education, Orphans in India & so on. We also share stories of these poor children who became victims at a very early age or some right from the time when they were born. The fact that I am trying to lay emphasis on is that is it going to benefit any one? Or does it satisfy us or our inner soul that we as humans who are fortunate, energetic & are lucky that we are not a part of all this by the Grace of God.

While knowing & seeing all this, we yet choose to silently ignore it but it somewhere bothers few people like & I am also one of them. If this is something which touches your heart & bothers you as an individual then we should try & contribute at the best of our potential in every aspect.

Let’s set an example of inspiration to one & all by contributing our bit for the needy & be a Proud citizen.

No other time can be as joyous as the Valentine’s Week, when you make those extra efforts to make your loved ones feel special. So this Valentine’s week double the power of love and share it with someone who needs it the most.

Let’s Make a Difference by experiencing a joy of giving a smile to one child at least, click here.

By Sonal Dua,
Student at FIIB.
(Volunteer at Udayan Care)