Kalki Welfare Society supports approximately 700 children living in Pondicherry and nearby districts. Here are two of their stories.
Shelter: Subashni (5 years old)
Subashni’s mother is a sex worker and her father is a rickshaw driver and also an alcoholic. They have an extremely unstable lifestyle and because of this Kalki’s social workers encouraged the parents to enrol Subashni in Kalki’s Early Childhood Day Care Programme.
Subashni was recently diagnosed with TB after being referred to the local hospital by Kalki’s nurse. When Subashni’s mother heard of the illness she decided she could no longer care for the child and refused to go to the hospital to sign for her daughter’s medicine. Despite constant mediation from the outreach team and attempts to ease her worries, Subashni’s mother refused to assist. The girl was admitted into the Kalki night shelter to ensure that her health could be monitored, as well as providing her with nutritious food and a clean environment in which to live.
Today Subashni is healthy thanks to the conscientious work of Kalki’s nurse and carers. She is now able to play with other children at the shelter and has made many friends. Thanks to the stability and routine of shelter life, she is also developing well emotionally. The social workers are continuing to discuss Subashni’s situation with her mother and are in the process of developing a long-term developmental plan for her, to ensure that she has the best possible opportunities in life.
Outreach: Poomani (13 years old)
Poomani has been selling bags in Pondicherry since she was eight years old and has not attended school since then. She lives with her community more than 20km out of town and regularly makes the long, tiring trip into Pondicherry. Then, over three to four days, she sells bags in the heat and sleeps on the streets at night before heading home. On a number of occasions, she has been abused at night and often goes a whole day without food or water.
Kalki’s social workers met Poomani one day when she was out working. They told her about the drop-in centre and that she could visit anytime for lunch or a rest. However, she was scared that her parents would find out and she would be punished.
Therefore, the outreach team made the journey to Poomani’s community to start building a relationship with the children and adults. They took recreational activities for the children to enjoy and develop their social skills as well as informal educational materials to provide basic tuition. They began working regularly with the parents to build up their trust and inform them about Kalki’s programmes.
The next time Poomani came into Pondicherry she visited the Centre. She told the social workers that her parents had given her permission to come to Kalki for the afternoon as they knew the Centre could be trusted, that she would be fed and could rest safely.
With time, the social workers will begin to tailor a developmental plan for Poomani to ensure she has a safe and happy future. In the meantime, she has somewhere safe to visit during her days in Pondicherry.
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