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A moment that changed lives
Hyderabad-based Shobha Rani talks about what made her resign from her job and start a formal organisation for abandoned children
Spandana is a home for orphans, street children and youth in critical need of care in Hyderabad. The registered NGO was founded by a couple Shobha Rani and Uttam Kumar.
They came across a young mentally challenged girl, who was living on the roadside and seemingly abandoned. Disturbed by this, they decided to ask around to see if there was anyone caring for her, but no one claimed responsibility.
Unable to just walk away, Shobha and her husband decided to take her in and care for her themselves. After few weeks, they were able to place her in a proper home for mentally challenged children.
But this experience left them with a deep sense of responsibility for children who were completely abandoned and unable to take care of themselves.
Considering this work to be their life calling, Uttam and Shobha decided to resign from their careers and start a formal organisation for abandoned children, which they named "Spandana".
Narrating her story, she says, "In the year 2002, I was working for an organisation that serves the poor and needy children, with a job of rescuing children in distress and provide them with relief and rehabilitation services.
This incident motivated and led me and my husband to start our journey in the NGO sector. As the time passed by Ammulu (name given by us) became healthy and looked happy.
This incident made us think deeper and understand the plight of such vulnerable children who were at the mercy of adults for their physical, emotional and social needs.
We felt that something should be done for these children who are abandoned by their parents, unwanted by institutions and neglected by the society."
Shobha, 47-years-old has a master's degree in social work and Child Psychology, and Uttam holds a master's in commerce.
Together, they have been combining their skills and efforts to create the foundation of the Spandana Childrens' Home and responsibly provide all of the children of Spandana with direct parenting and care.
She shares, "One of our former child, will be completing her graduation this year.
12 children have got through their Intermediate with flying colours this year, the highest percentage of marks scored by one of our girls was 911; she studied at Eva Maire Vocational Junior College.
All of these children are looking forward to pursue their higher education which will be supported by our donors.
Just like any other parent would, our dream for all the children is to see them well settled in life and be happy and give back to the society.
Regarding the children she picks up she says, "When we started the programme in the year 2002, that is when we started the institutional services.
Knowing about our work some volunteers used to enroll children in our home. We also used to get enquiries from parents who lived under BPL and relatives of orphan children.
But after we registered our activity with the Government, we stopped taking in children directly.
We get the children with the orders from the Child Welfare Committee, which is the magisterial body under the JJ Act to send children to the homes.
Most of the children that come to our home are also most needy and deprived of care and protection."
On asking about how she takes care of these children she says, "Once the girls are at Spandana home they are no more considered as abandoned.
As a matter of fact, our home is not a home for destitute, but it is a family comprising of parents and their children like any other normal family.
We insist on being thought about and addressed that way. Like any other parent thinks about the future of their offspring we too give careful thought to each and every child's future and we have a plan graphed out for each of them based on their skills and abilities.
Of those who passed intermediate, six of them are preparing themselves to become nurses and lab operators to serve the sick and poor.
Two of them are aspiring to become business entrepreneurs. We have made arrangements to send them to under graduation courses in their respective areas of interest. (Same is the case with boys, all the three who got through are aspiring to become engineers)."
Once these girls complete their graduation, Spandana plans to get them into suitable jobs and then mainstream them with the community.
"Inspite of all the hurdles we had to face financially and stigmatised at times for bringing up the children of the most needy, at times deserted by our own, we moved on unperturbed, as the stories and problems surrounding children who were victims of misfortune, abandoned and abused, were of paramount importance to us and gave us enough motivation to move on with our cause and belief in the goodness of the people and the society.
I should add that God has miraculously helped in our entire journey and is still doing so in enabling us to continue to realise the dreams and goals, of His own children through us.
Through my story I wish to tell the world that 'If you want to realise your dream and reach out to your goal you should move on with determination, patience, perseverance, sincerity and hard work and you will reach your destination with never having to look back again."
She shares future plans, "We want to see that all our children and many more that add to our family in the coming days are settled well in life, are well trained and are motivated to give back to the society.
Work vigorously on issues of domestic violence and child trafficking and expand our community outreach activities to other districts of Telangana state. (Very soon signing an MOU with the government on starting a Sakhi centre in Vikarabad district)."