Parentless and Courageous

By Seram Neken *

Thousands of orphans and undernourished children will go to bed hungry and cold tonight, even though we have enough to feed and sufficient clothes to wear for us all. Many among them, highly talented and promising, need moral and physical support to excel in varied fields. Our choice can bring hope and comfort to orphans who are genuinely struggling for lives.

Misfortune does not deter Master Inaoba in scaling heights from being a parentless child to winning Gold Medal in Mountaineering sports. An orphan by destiny, Inaoba rose to the top at the 12th North East Zonal Sports Climbing Competition held at Assam Police Battalion, Guwahati under the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi from 9 to 12 October 2010.

Master Nandakumar, another inmate of the Destitute Children Home, Lei Ingkhol Chingmeirong also took part in the competition, for which the duo were selected by the Manipur Mountaineering and Tracking Association (MMTA). In fact, challenges facing the parentless children make them adventurous, courageous and hard-working. Their achievements clearly reveal the hidden talents in the children who are bereft of parents as compared to those who are on the lap of the parents at home.

"All the nine children of the Orphanage who are presently under training at the MMTA premises situated at Minuthong, Imphal are all good in performance and discipline. They have ample potential to become excellent climbers in future. Their age is right for grooming as Olympians in next few years.

However, lack of nutritional support and climbing kits is always a hindrance to their excellence in this sports event. The shoes, dresses and equipment for trainee climbers are costly and proper diet is required for them. If the children get ample support from noble people around, they may be scaled up to even the Olympiad" one of the officials of the MMTA commented.

An orphan is a child permanently bereaved of his or her parents due to death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents.

However, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and other groups label any child that has lost one parent as an orphan. In this approach, a maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died, a paternal orphan is a child whose father has died, and a double orphan has lost both parents.

In the common use, an orphan does not have any surviving parent to care for him or her. Orphans are relatively rare in developed countries, as most children can expect both of their parents to survive their childhood. Much higher numbers of orphans exist in war-torn nations, conflict zones and HIV affected countries. An AIDS affected region in the Asian continent, Manipur in north east India has potential to produce huge numbers of parentless children due to existing communal conflicts and insurgency clashes.

World leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Andrew Jackson, the Muslim prophet Mohammed, writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, and Leo Tolstoy were all orphans who were groomed without parents' love and care. Other notable orphans include entertainment greats such as Louis Armstrong, Johann Sebastian Bach, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Aaron North, and innumerable fictional characters in literature and comics. Dingkoo of Manipur was also brought up as a world fame boxer in one of the orphanages of the state.

The lack of parents renders the destitute children to pursue more interesting and adventurous sports and games. By freeing them from familial obligations and controls, and depriving them of more prosaic lives, they strive for self-contained and self-reliant living with extraordinary courage and spirit.

Many books religious texts, including the Bible and the Quran, contain the idea that helping and defending orphans is a very important and God-pleasing matter. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (The New Testament) "And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive," (The Quran)

The Leprosy Patients Welfare Society (LEWS) has been running the destitute home since 1978 with financial assistance from the state government of Manipur. Presently 28 children including 5 girls are being nurtured at this Home, as against the provision of 25 inmates prescribed by the social welfare department for a unit. The destitute home was officially declared by the government to be Juvenile Home in May 1985.

Besides food and residential facility, parentless or single parent children registered at this home are provided education, healthcare, recreation, vocational trainings on varied trades. Children are trained on silkworm cocoon rearing, pisciculture, poultry, handicraft works etc. so as to make them self reliant when they leave the orphanage.

Some of the children are highly adventurous and talented in sports activities like mountaineering, swimming, martial arts etc. while others are academically good and perform well in music and singing. These children, if supported morally and financially in their interested fields, will certainly shine for the state and the nation in future.

As informed by its septuagenarian secretary, A Tolen Singh who has won many awards and recognition for his dedication to the cause, many inmates of the Home have already got jobs at private or government departments after getting out of it in the last three decades. They could have established families and have well educated siblings.

Utmost care is being taken for the inmates of the Home to make them self reliant and excel in their own trades. Donations by noble personalities of the land have enabled him to groom the children, even though the government provision of Rs. 20/- per day per child support is too meager to meet the requirements.

Noble donors of the Home are mostly non-manipuri businessmen who frequently visit the Home and donate in cash and kind. Social activists and government officials are also contributing their might for the children home. However, but for a few donors, most MLAs, ministers and bureaucrats hardly visit the Home and support for the cause.

It may be opined that if wealthy social workers who spend huge amounts unnecessarily in the name of garnering electoral benefits spend their wealth to support these children, the promising children strayed help less in the orphanages may one day be strong pillars of the nation. As there is the saying 'God is where a man loves the other', the great donors will be paid for their kindness and generosity.

(this article is filed under RK Maipaksana Journalist Fellowship)

* Seram Neken ( a regular columnist for Hueiyen Lanpao) is a winner of RK Maipaksana Journalist Fellowship 2010 . This article was webcasted on December 06 2010.

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