How a driver and a BPO employee left their jobs to raise 25 orphaned children
Despite being from a humble background, Shivaji Lazarus and his wife Prema have adopted 25 children.
“Once I finish my studies and get a job, I will support our home in helping more children so that no child ever ends up being orphaned without a family and an education,” says 18-year-old Marina, a first-year BBA student at Bengaluru’s Sheshadripuram College.
Marina was the first child adopted by Shivaji Lazarus and Prema, who run Miracle Manna Children’s Home in a rented building in Jakkur, Yelahanka in Bengaluru. Twenty-five years ago, after marriage, the couple from Tamil Nadu moved to Bengaluru. They had a self-sufficient and happy life with a daughter whom they sent to a good school.
Finding their calling, with three children
When his cousin abandoned his wife and three children, leaving them homeless and penniless, Shivaji and Prema paid their bills and sent the three children to school. They cared for these children and helped them gain an education and become capable of living a dignified life in society.
Seeing these children grow, 48-year-old Shivaji and Prema thought of welcoming one child at a time into their family, whose future they would help secure. With time, their family grew as they realised just how many children were in need of loving parents.
The couple went ahead and adopted 10 children, whom they took care of on their monthly earnings.
There are millions of children in India who are abandoned by their families at a tender age, when they cannot care for themselves. These children end up lurking in the merciless, darkest corners of our society. Some end up begging on the streets or fall prey to human trafficking and other heinous crimes.
“Children are a gift of god. It is hurtful to see that families don’t think twice before abandoning children on the streets. We decided we would never refuse a child who needs love and care. Today we are parents to 25 children and it gives us immense pleasure to watch them grow and we are proud of the fact that they are our children,” says Prema.
The road to parenthood is filled with sacrifices
Initially, Shivaji and Prema were juggling their jobs with taking care of 10 children. As Prema felt the need for someone to watch over the children, she quit her BPO job to stay home and cook nutritious meals for them. As they adopted more children it became difficult for Prema to care for them alone, and Shivaji, a driver, started working only part-time. He drops the children to the nearby English-medium school they attend and picks them up as well.
Their 23-year-old daughter Gracy, who is a graduate, helps these children with their studies and the younger ones with their daily chores.
With Shivaji’s meagre salary, they would be unable to pay the rent and support the children, and that is where their friends, social circle, and a few generous donors come in.
I see hope in my children’s eyes, they are very capable. Our only aim is to watch these little ones grow, gain a good education, and settle for a career and lead an independent and happy life, says Shivaji.
The orphanage is crowdfunding to take care of the children’s educational expenses. Miracle Manna Children’s Home dreams of reaching out to as many needy children as they can so that they don’t end up on the streets.