Mahua was found with severe injuries on his head and legs. It took more than six months of individualised medical treatment to help him get better. He was severely hearing and speech impaired and was diagnosed with Aplasia. Addicted to tobacco, he suffered from immense emotional and physical trauma. He was not potty-trained and had no idea of even what to eat. He had no awareness of social behavioural norms.
With a lot of emotional support, love and acceptance, over a long period of time, he gradually settled into our home very well. Forming bonds with other children and staff, he grew into being a very affable and loving youngster. He has one of the most welcoming bear hugs one can ever experience. Inspite of not being able to talk, he loves communicating through sounds with every visitor who comes to Karm Marg. No one can ever forget his bright smile.
From having violent tendencies, he now has turned into a caring individual who shows a lot of proactive responsibility towards the younger children of the home. He is often seen taking care of them and helping them with their daily activities like bathing, feeding, washing clothes, gardening and even kneading dough!! He is currently undergoing life skills training and vocational training at our in house income generation unit Jugaad as well as the bakery unit.
The most beautiful part of the journey with Mahua was when under the training of a special needs educator and speech therapist, he heard a sound for the very first time in his life. His expression was priceless. His excitement every time he heard the sound was something none of us will ever forget.
Seeing his progress over the years truly makes one understand how much a life can be changed for the better given a loving, caring and stimulating environment. Watching him bloom over the years has been a lovely, rewarding experience and a reminder that love can really turn the world around!
Other news at Karm Marg!
The months of October till December is full of festivals and the children have a great time celebrating each festival irrespective of religion or region. Starting with the hindu festivals of Dushhera, Diwali along with Islamic festival of Eid to Christmas. Everything was celebrated with great enthusiasm and fun. The year ended with a fun filled new year eve bonfire party where the children made all the preparations and cooked carrot pudding (halwa) themselves for the occasion. Many alumni and well wishers join the fun with their families making it a lovely, warm way to celebrate the achievements of the year gone by and welcome an exciting new year.
Our supporters and friends Albatross Travels organised a trip to Agra on the occasion of children's day. Most of the children saw the Taj Mahal up and close for the first time in their lives. They also provided an individual gift for each child and staff for Christmas too.
Workshop on Handling of Emotional and Mental well being of Institutionalised Children was attended by two of our staff. We also organised a workshop on HIV/AIDS awareness and on life skills training for the children through the Modicare Foundation. We invited other local NGOs, Children New Hope and Miracle Foundation to join us in attending the workshop, which they found very useful.
Five new children were sent to us by the government authorities for short stay and one child was restored with his family this quarter.
The story of Vijay.
Thought to have been a victim of a child trafficking, the police found Vijay begging on the street in Faridabad. He was addicted to alcohol and tobacco. He could not provide any information of his parents or home.
Vijay came to us in February this year referred to us by the Child welfare Committee, the government agency. He seemed to about 14 years old.
He was in a terrible condition both physically and mentally.His left hand is affected by polio. His teeth were rotting. Hygiene standards were non-existent. He was malnutritioned. He was very violent and used a lot of bad language. He got fits often.
He seemed to want to run away from the home. Constantly asking for money and permission to go out so he could buy tabacco and alcohol. When we refused, he used to create havoc. His temper, bad behavior and foul language was affecting all the other children at the home.
Like with all the new children who come to us, we realized love and acceptance is what he sought desperately. That was the base of his therapy. We started him on regular counselling and behavior modification therapy. We sent him for treatment for his teeth and his fits to the local government hospital.
It was a long, arduous journey till now but we are happy to report, he is now well settled at the home. His health and personal hygiene has improved drastically. Every time he remembers to brush his teeth is a cause of celebration. He has better control on his language and violent behavior. It’s heartwarming seeing him repeat his sentences again, leaving out the abusive words.
He is still a master of his own will often skillfully dodging his training and responsibilities. Very opinionated, he is more of a leader than a follower. Very affectionate and hospitable, specially towards all visitors. He insists on getting tea for visitors in the hope he will get some too. Discovering his love for tea, we now we use tea as a reward and a carrot on a stick at times with great success.
Most importantly he now seems happy, alert and very social, preferring to spend time directing everyone in the Jugaad’s production team.
Vijay’s adjustment to our home has again reaffirmed our belief that what children need most is love and acceptance. We cannot expect every child to become perfect or achieve academically. We must set goals according to their potential and abilities. Most importantly, each child is unique. It’s our job is to find an individualized plan of action that helps the child achieve their own success, however big or small.
Other news at the home:
The primary school children were transferred to a school closer to the home so that they could be monitored better, less time was spent on commuting and we could save money on bus fuel too. The arrangement of school transfer certificate, uniforms and books took lot of planning and effort. The saved time is being invested in extra curricular activities for the holistic development of the children.
This quarter was also important as the yearly performance appraisal of staff was done by the board members and increments were announced and given to staff. The board members held one to one meetings with all staff members, discussed their problems, performance and invited suggestions from them to improve the functioning of Karm Marg. The board also encouraged staff members to enhance and upgrade their skills which will help them to add value to their individual self and also help grow Karm Marg in the process.
Two new girls were referred to us for permanent stay. One boy and girl have been referred by CWC to us for short stay. Five children have been restored with their families. Govinda, Rahul and Ruby have started living independently after getting settled in their new jobs.
Shayra has secured admission in a Bachelor Of Science course at Nehru College in Faridabad. We are very proud that she is fulfilling her dreams of getting a degree.
Three new children have been admitted in a primary school. Pooja, or staff member continues to conduct non-formal education classes for the children who are temporarily with us.
In this quarter children celebrated the festival of Eid and Raksha Bandhan. Independence Day was celebrated on 15th August 2014 by the children and staff. Flag hoisting ceremony was followed by a patriotic song singing session.
Jugaad our vocational training and income generation wing, was featured in a TV program, ‘Gaon Connection’ on Doordarshan channel. They also covered the story of our alumni and staff Shabila.
Two of our boys went to Indian Football Federation (IFF) for training to become a football coach. Evening exercises and sports activity for all children is being conducted on a regular basis.
Rahul, our staff member has been conducting etiquette classes with all the children on a daily basis. He has also training them on communication skills.
Our counsellor training for the staff is going very well and we are seeing the impact in our day-to-day relationship between staff and children.
In continuation of the earlier workshop on human behavior taken by Dr. Bharti and Shewta ji of Sarthak, two more sessions were held by them on more advanced topics.
Our special needs youngsters are getting training in bakery, twice a week. They are also participating in regular extra curricular activity where they are learning to make products out of waste.
We have appointed Rehana, one of our alumni to give them training. Rehana had been sent by us on a Pravah youth exposure program to Prayas NGO in Jaipur after which she successfully completed their three year course for special needs educator training.
Our main focus next term is to start production at our bakery unit with our special needs youngsters. It’s important that we can sell the bakery goods so that they can start earning some money and become more independent economically too.
The Story of Anita*(name changed to protect identity).
Even though we have been involved with children from disadvantaged backgrounds since 1997, once in a while we still get taken aback looking at the state of the children referred to us. It makes us realize how urgently good child protection and emotional crisis management services are needed in India.
Anita* came to us in early July 2013 referred by the Child Welfare Committee. Delhi Police had found her on the streets. Her file stated that her parents died in front of her and her brother was kidnapped and hence she ran away from her home. Her real age is unknown but she seems to be around 10-11 years old.
She came to us while in acute depression but had not been under psychological treatment yet. There was extreme insecurity and aggressive behaviour. She indulged in self-harm and seeked a lot of attention. She locked herself in a room or toilet, refusing to open the door for hours and constantly threatened us with suicide. She managed to run away from our home four times and we found her in the same place that she was found by the Delhi Police initially. It was impossible to leave her alone even for a second. Many a times we wondered if we would be able to manage as we did not have a full time Counsellor on board.
Judging her needs, we sent her for regular Psychiatric treatment at one of the renowned specialized hospitals in Delhi. She is still on medication and behavioural therapy.
Our experience told us what she needed was a safe, secure loving environment where she would feel acceptance and a sense of belonging not strictness and oppressive rules. We started by giving her a lot of positive reinforcement and loads of unconditional love. We explained to the other children at the home that she had gone through a lot and needed their support. She needed a family. Our older kids took it upon themselves to do just that; and that is what it seems started to work like magic.
Our staff provided her in house counselling and were available to her beyond the call of duty, 24x7. Our young alumni who are also our staff offered her friendship and sharing of their tough experiences. It was a very tough three months initially but gradually the walls around her started cracking. Her tears were replaced by the sweetest smile. Soon she became more involved in the daily routine. We started taking her out with all the other kids for fun outings and visits. She started forming bonds and began trusting, which was a huge step for her.
Today, Anita* has started going to school. No one who saw her a year ago would believe the progress she has made in such a short time. She greets every visitor with a bright smile. Along with taking care of herself, she looks after the younger children at the home providing them love and care. She calls Karm Marg her home and never wants to leave.
Children like Anita* need the kind of individual attention that gets very difficult to provide in institutionalized care homes. We feel it is a great example that strengthens our belief in running a children's home like an extended family where rules, expectations and strategies are fluid and cater to every child's individual need.
We have had many children in more dire circumstances referred to us in the past. With our experience and instinct we have successfully managed to make most of them settle and become self-reliant adults. The learning through this experience was that since we have a few young alumni and some new staff members on board now who do not have that much experience in handling acute cases, we felt we should proactively provide training to them in this regard.
So this quarter we began a counseling training workshops for all our staff conducted by the team at Sarthak, a well-known Psychotherapy Clinic run by Dr Achal Bhagat. Basic skills of handling fragile states when new children come to us, their effect on other children at the home, their emotional upheavals and adjustment problems are a few areas where this training has helped immensely.Few selected staff who work directly with the children have been earmarked to receive further specialised training too.The staff has also reported good feedback since the training adding to their own personal growth and understanding of their own pre-conceptions and emotional blocks.
Like we always believe, we learn from children sometimes more than what we can teach them. The resilience, courage and warmth they exude motivate us to keep learning, growing and improving the care we provide.
Other Highlights of the Quarter!
The last quarter has been very exciting for our children at Karm Marg.
All our children have graduated to the next class and were very excited to get back to school. Shayra has passed her Class XII Board exams with 71% marks and is seeking to join a University to pursue higher education, which we are helping her with. Vipin secured 62% and has registered for a web-designing course through our network.
The children’s summer experiences…
There have been 7 new children sent to us for short stay and 4 have been sent for long term. We are happy that we have been successful in restoring 5 children with their families and have assisted in two of our oldest ones settle independently after helping them get jobs.
The teenagers above 14 were sent for internships keeping in mind their potential and area of interest. It varied from animal rescue center for two week training on animal care, an export unit for a month long screen printing training and our own vocational training units. One of the kids who is very interested in computers has been enrolled in a six month internship for computer hardware maintenance.
Our youngsters with special needs did a bake sale along with children from the expat Japanese community of Delhi. They visited Karm Marg and cooked together and successfully sold the cookies at the Japanese Community event the following day.
Over the summer holidays in June, all of the children were involved in workshops of theatre, painting, story writing, games etc. The younger ones were taken out to the zoo for a picnic and boat ride which they enjoyed immensely. Two of the older kids went to Indian Football Federation (IFF) for training as football coaches too.
Not so good news…
Unfortunately three kids came down with small pox but have recovered well.
The unseasonal storm caused a big portion of our boundary wall to collapse and we need about USD 1000 for it’s repair. The electricity wiring of our home has also become dated and is in need of re wiring at an estimated expenditure of USD 3500.
We always try to find ways to connect with the local community specially the youth in and around our village through various outreach programs, medical camps or workshops.
An important need of the hour is Gender Sensitization among the youth. While we are working with a few advisors on structuring the outline and details of a gender sensitization workshop, we have started reaching out to the local school teenagers. We feel that starting with fun activities is a great way to building a rapport and establishing a network with the local youth.
So as a first step, we conducted a photography workshop with class XI children at the local Senior Government school which they really enjoyed. We are hoping to take this forward in the coming months.
On 7th February 2014, Karm Marg completed its 17 years of journey, it is time to analyse our vision and we all are very satisfied that we are headed towards our vision with many ups and downs along the way.
Total Beneficiaries this quarter: 52
Total Number of kids staying (Dec 2013): 39 (19 girls, 20 boys)
New children: 4 (2 girls , 2 boys) for short stay; 2 long stay( 1 girl, 1 boy)
Children restored with their families: 3 girls
Young adults who got jobs and are living independently: 2 boys
Karm Marg has always been in need of a counsellor from a very long time and we weren’t able to find one to take one on as staff due to various reasons like our rural area, long travelling distance, funds etc. So we decided to go for counselling training for our existing staff through Sarthak (an organization working with mental health issues).
All the children have cleared their examination and moved on to the next class. Extra tuition classes had been organized for those who are appearing for class X and XII board exams. Results are awaited for them.
We have two students who need to plan for further education after school. Shayra wants to work in healthcare or as a secondary school science teacher. Vipin is still confused so we have given him 3 months’ time to explore and decide. Till that time he has been interning with an animal shelter home.
Activities and Outing
Four children participated in a workshop at the Khel Mel Goand Painting workshop at the Craft Museum
unManifesto outreach program was organized by the NGO Pravah, a group who are addressing youth issues at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra on 28th of March. It was an all India youth program to raise awareness about political and electoral processes.
We have appointed a new dance teacher to teach different kinds of dance forms to the children for two days a week.
Picnics cum activity outings and painting workshops were organized for all the children
Children also went for their annual shopping, buying new clothes and shoes at the we outing we organized to Sarojini Nagar market. We think it’s a great fun way for them to learn how to manage a budget.
Exposure and life skill training
We delegated the responsibility to Tara and Babli for managing Jugaad stall at Dilli Haat. exhibition.
Vikranta and Rajkumar completed their training in housekeeping from GMR and GMR did a placement for them at Fortis, a well-known hospital. Both of them are still under probation and we hope they will enjoy their new jobs.
A Flag hoisting ceremony along with disucssions were held at Karm Marg on Republic Day.
We celebrated Lohri a festival of harvest and marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring. Children danced around the bonfire and enjoyed eating traditional revari, popcorn and nuts.
Holi, the festival of colours is the most favourite festival among our children. Everyone looks forward to playing with the organic colours we make from flowers every year for this festival. Our staff and children made gujiya (special sweet made on this day) and lunch for everybody.
Volunteers and Visitors
Our oldest friends and supporters Steve, Debra and Marika visited Karm Marg.
Young adults from SOS Greenfield, Faridabad a NGO who work with children and youth visited KM for interaction with our children.
Shri S.L. Gupta and his wife, our Chartered accountant and well-wisher Mr.Sunil K Gupta along with his family visited Karm Marg and spent time with the children. They organised breakfast and lunch for the children.
Karm Marg received a donation for four laptops from a corporate group called “Everest group”, Gurgaon.
Working with Government Authorities
ICDS/DCPO organized workshop on POCSO (Protection of Child against Sexual Offences) act for CCIs’. Amrendra and Divya Prakash attended the workshop on behalf of KM.
It has been a very busy time for Jugaad with visits from buyers, new sampling, and a number of exhibitions. Our regular buyers from abroad and some new buyers also visited us.Our long term associates Shared Earth, UK and Maria from Italy gave us her new order. They were very happy after interacting with the children.
Prestigious design college, NIFT students visited Jugaad for their educational trip. They were fascinated with the work at Jugaad.
Youthreach members visited Jugaad for product making, marketing and also to explore the possibility of getting their people trained at Jugaad.
Our Intern at Jugaad
News letter for the quarter October to December 2013
You can tell that winter is coming to KM as the children start taking out their warm clothes and blankets, bringing colour, cheer and anticipation for the festivals and good weather with them.
Our young adults too have had reason to celebrate as a number of them have taken new steps to becoming independent.
The festivals with their bright and sparkling colours brought cheer and joy with them.
v Total children present at home – 35 (Girls: 18, Boys: 17)
v Youth receiving skill training and higher education – 4
v New Children, short stay – 10
v New children, permanent stay – 02
v Children restored with their families – 03
v Youth got job and Now independent - 4
v Direct Beneficiaries in this quarter – 58
(a children’s’ book festival) at Indira Gandhi National Art Center on 23rd and 24th November. They participated in Story Telling, Science Magic, Craft related activities.
Sports and fitness
Sports activities such as fitness exercises have become an everyday feature at KM now. In addition to this we have also started football and badminton training.
All the children go to the district stadium for practicing different sports, 15 of them are taking football training twice a week with professional coaches.
Staff meetings have been held regularly in the last quarter. At these meetings we can all present our problems, our diffculties and work together to sort out these differences as well as streamline the activities within the team. Since then the output has shown a marked increase without compromising on the quality of our work.
Being the time of the year when most of the sales take place, Jugaad has seen a buzz of activity this quarter.
There were a number of exhibitions where we participated showcasing all products we have developed over the course of the year. Jugaad is now a well known brand and people wait to buy our new designs which are launched this time of the year.
Unfortunately, inflationhas taken its toll on the market this year, we still managed to do good enough business though its has been less than last year.
Jugaad started its own shop in Delhi. Our aim to is to experiment and sell our products regularly to raise funds and become more self-sustainable.
All the young adults visited our stall to gain exposure, on how to become an entrepreneur. They loved to see different groups working on a small scale and helped wherever possible in production, packing and selling.
The children painted tin boxes, used for small plants at KM as well as at our exhibition stalls. Abdul, Kulsum, Shama who are very good at painting did an excellent job.
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