Children born out of wedlock are perhaps the biggest sufferers of societal wrath. Neither accepted by the unwed mother, nor wanted by the ‘supposed’ father, dejected and unwanted by the society, these children are often abandoned as soon as they are born. Unwed mothers suffer severe scrutiny from the society, irrespective of the circumstances of the pregnancy. In most cases they are excommunicated and labelled as the ‘guilty party.’ Our societal framework is such that it is extremely difficult for an unwed mother to bring up a child by herself. Modern women have become bolder, but the rural class is currently neither literate nor confident enough to stand by a step so bold. And hence, we find newborns dumped in bins, rivers and sewers.
“What is the fault of these children?” asks the 87 year old Bhagwan Singh Parihar, founder of Navjeewan Sansthan. Bhagwan Singh Parihar, a well known industrialist and social worker of Jodhpur started this organisation 25 years ago. “There arose a great concern about the future of these abandoned children. We felt there was a desperate need to provide them with love, care and affection, after all they are completely innocent. To cater to this need, we came up with Navjeewan Sansthan,” says Bhagwan Singh.
Navjeewan Sansthan functions on very moral and ethical ideals. The institution, in fact, plays the role of a mother, and takes care of homeless children right from the day they’re born. It ensures these children have a good upbringing, decent education and a clean and righteous living environment. Navjeewan Sansthan, besides providing all the essential living facilities to these children, also tries and rehabilitates them in good homes.
Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra
A part of Navjeewan Sansthan, Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra takes care of children up to the age of six. Children who’ve been abandoned and thrown away in bins, sewers, fences etc. are brought here by local police. These children are then taken care of, provided the best medical facilities and nurtured by the institution.“ The children brought to us are often premature, weighing not more than 1.5 kg, and in need of very serious medical care. We immediately take them to a hospital and provide instant medical help. Despite the best efforts. about 25 per cent children do not survive,” explains Bhagwan Singh, highlighting the deplorable conditions of the newly brought children. Once the medical needs are met, the staff takes care of these children, providing them much required humane and healthy environment for growth.
Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra also caters to the needs of unwed mothers and widows who need to give up their children due to societal or legal reasons. “It’s, indeed, a very sad plight on how our society functions, but here, we’re concentrating on providing a better life to these kids,” says Bhagwan Singh. The institution accepts surrendered children and rehabilitates them in well-surveyed and wanting homes. “We’ve also catered for a cradle outside our building, where unwed mothers can leave their children,” shares Bhagwan Singh, elaborating on the efforts Navjeewan Sansthan is making to take care of these children right from the beginning.
A separate wing of Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra has been dedicated to the care of special children. “We have regular physiotherapy sessions for these children. Doctor visits are regular, and we provide the best possible medical treatment to these children,” says Ms Snehlata, a caretaker at the centre.
Gayatri Balika Grih
Another part of the organisation, Gayatri Balika Grih takes care of girls between the ages of 5 and 18. The are girls who weren’t adopted when a part of Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra are admitted here. Gayatri Balika Grih also accepts girls whose parents have passed away and are now ‘destitute.’ “We admit them in good schools, provide free education and clothing, and take care of all their needs and expenditure,” shares Bhagwan Singh. “On reaching 18 years of age, we get them married into good homes, and those girls who want to pursue further education are encouraged to do so,” he adds.
“Our Balika Grih holds regular beauty parlour lessons, fashion designing and sewing classes. We try and encourage our girls to pursue their hobbies, and become independent citizens tomorrow,” shares Ms Snehlata.
Struggles, Aid and Achievements
Navjeewan Sansthan thrives on the support of the Central Government and local philanthropists who wish to see these children do well. “Acquiring so much land for the facilities of the organisation, erecting buildings and financing our daily needs would not have been possible without the help of the good samaritans of society. People and government have been generous with donations,” says Bhagwan Singh. However, Navjeewan Sansthan wishes to see an even better work relationship with the government. “They have the money and we have the motivation. Together we can do wonders for the society,” believes Bhagwan Singh.
“So far we have been a home to 800 children at Lavkush Bal Vikash Kendra and Gayatri Balika Grih. Our constant endeavour is to provide such upbringing to these children as other kids would receive at home. And yes, it’s not just the physical and educational needs that we focus on, we work on good emotional health of these kids, and have, so far, been quite successful at making their lives better,” says Bhagwan Singh.“We’ve settled a lot of our kids in good homes, helped children pursue higher education after college and married off our girls in good houses,” says Ms Snehlata. “We’ve also gifted our married girls with a one lakh rupee fixed deposit to ensure their financial security,” adds Mr Bhagwan Singh.
And thus…There are so many children living without a roof on their heads. These orphans have no place to go. They’re denied the basic rights of living. Navjeewan Sansthan does great work to improve the condition of these children who are illogically unaccepted by the society. It provides these innocent kids shelter, food, education and a secure future so that tomorrow they turn into confident citizens who are well-integrated in the society.
“Hopefully our society will change for the better and parents would no longer be ashamed of accepting their own blood,” signs off Bhagwan Singh.