TODAY -

The plight of a parentless girl!

Tara Manchin Hangzo *



A recent incident jolted me out of my ignorance about our lack of compassion towards the orphans or parentless children of our state. A week back, a distant cousin’s daughter came to my house to ask for some money so that she could clear fees for her class 11 final examination.

I could tell that my mother was not happy to see her again because just two weeks earlier she came to asked for a larger amount for paying the school fee. We hardly interacted with her in the past as she lived in an orphanage all her life. Apparently the orphanage or the children’s home refused to pay her exams fees after she completed her 10h examinations as funding from some foreign sources stopped.

Her aunt who used to support her earlier also distanced herself from supporting the girl as she refused to accompany her daughter to Pune to cook and clean for her. The girl is brilliant in her studies. She dreams big, she wants to become a doctor. She might be an orphan but has set her priority right. She wanted to complete her studies at any cost. Even if she had to face shame for seeking monetary help, she is determined to fulfill her dream.

She is an illegitimate daughter of a high ranking police officer who disowned her before her birth. She is unfortunate to have a mentally challenged mother who is unable to earn a living.

From the age of three, she has been placed in an orphanage. She grew up amongst other orphan boys and girls. During her holidays, she is shunted from one relative’s home to another. She is useful when she can slog for them, cook, clean and do laundry. She wears only hand-me-down clothes and others donated by relatives.

Ours is not a compassionate society and this is why orphans and parentless children are ignored. With everyone living on the edge of poverty, we lived in selfish times, each for his own survival. Right from birth, nothing worked in her favour but against all odds she stood firm like a solid tree in a stormy weather. Will she be allowed to fulfill her dreams and lead a productive life?

In the developed countries, people donate money to uplift the poor while here the rich abused the poor and pulled them down until they give up on life. The parentless children are trampled upon at every step of their lives. Who are their guardians in the society? Many orphans with one parent alive or so called double orphans (both parents are dead) abound in our society due to obvious reason.

We have orphans from parents who died after living with HIV/Aids, chidren of parents who were killed in fake encounters and children of victim of other diseases. My perception is that some of the people who run orphanage or children’s home do it for monetary gains. They stopped supporting children’s fees when funding runs out and have no long term goals for the children.

As long as funding lasts, they take care of the children and many a time they are left in a lurch .What about the government - do they take responsibilities of the orphans in our state? I am yet to explore the roles and responsibilities of the government. In the local newspaper occasionally there are photos and write up about so and so prominent personality distributing books and blankets to orphans kids but not supporting them for long term.

I know of a lady, she belongs to a very rich family. She did start something for children in need, or victims of ethnic clashes. She supported quite a number of orphans for couple of years, who are today studying medicine, engineering, Master’s Degrees etc.

By her act of kindness, she has made an impact in the children’s life and she is richly blessed in returned. Another lady known to me also has her own NGO to support orphans girls and run a home for them. She even adopted one or two of them giving them a new lease of life.

But how many of us are willing to contribute our piece to bring a smile on orphans’ face and light up their darkness. We lived in a cocooned world of our own insulated with the worldly comfort and promptly forgeting their existence. We remember them only when they appear in front of us.

In other part of the world, the concept of adopting or fostering orphans exist as an inbuilt system where children are absorbed into the extended family automatically so that they have experience of living in a family atmosphere. The purpose is to let them thrive in a loving family atmosphere and to ensure that children are well cared. But in reality the already overburdened extended families with many children of their own are unable to provide the much needed love and care as per UNICEF guideline.

Sometime the aged grandparents automatically assume responsibility of feeding them and clothing them with great difficulties. How well they take care of these children depends upon the family’s financial situation. While talking about orphans, we cannot also forget the role of men, particularly those who have illegitimate children and refuses to look after them.

Coming back to the parentless girl I had mentioned, we have to acknowledge that childhood of girls like her are fraught with fears and insecurities? There are so many questions, but no definite answers. Studies have shown that children who grew up in institute like an orphanage without parental love and are nurtured by mean disciplinarian tend to grown up feeling unloved and uncared for and the psychological impact last a long time.

Certainly a life without parents is hard for these children. Parents are refuge, their confidents, their counselors, their burden sharers. Do they find adults who act as lovingly to them in the orphanage, their foster home? Their sojourn through life is indeed lonely and hard. We as part of humankind have a duty towards mitigation of parentless and orphans’ sorrow.


* Tara Manchin Hangzo wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
Tara Manchin Hangzo is an independent health consultant focused on developmental issues and has had her stint with many national and international agencies.
This article was posted on April 09, 2015.


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