It was a rainy day in the month of June 2017, when the childline got a call from a child. In whispers the child conveyed that she was staying in an orphange and the head of the organiation was sexually abusing her. As soon as childline alterted us about this, with the police we swung to action. To our utter horror, we found that the home was meant to be a place for HIV positive children.
When the recue was going on,we found frightened children all huddled together. They were all removed from that place and through the intervention of Child Welfare Committee the children were admitted to different homes based on their past experience. All the perpetrators were remanded to judicial custody.
Two sisters, aged 13yrs & 15yrs who admitted to being sexually assaulted were admitted to our therapeutic community.
The sense of shock and a state of numbness greeted us when we first met these two children.
For these two sisters, they never thought that they would ever escape this vicious trap of sexual exploitation. Orphaned due to AIDS, rejected by their family and community this home was their only choice for food, clothing, education and shelter. For three years they lived with the nightmare of daily sexual assault in the 'guise' of divine love and compassion. They knew it was a violation, but could not speak as they were dependent on this organization for their sustenence.
Being HIV positive further made their condition more helpless. Interacting with other children in the home they knew that they were not only ones who were going through this plight. It was only when a new child escaped from the home and alerted 'Childline' the matter came to light.
Repeated sexual assaults had cause acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in these children and a severe trust deficit. For more than 1year our care-givers struggled to restore some sense of trust in these children.
This was especially challenging as the head of the organization was arrested and the children were summoned to the court repeatedly for taking statements.As the case was moving on fast-track, the trail started within 9 months. Everytime the children saw anybody connected to that home in the court they had a relapse. They were not willing to be admitted in any formal school scared that they might be killed or harmed enroute.So both of them were admitted in the in-house learning center in the thereapeutic community.
After over 1year the children slowly started feeling more confident and consented to going to a formal government school. Education then became their safe heaven. Slowly they blossomed into two smart teenagers full of life and hope. Not even the monthly Anti Retroviral Drugs deterred them.
This year they wrote together their X Standard Board Examination. I had met them a day before the exam and told them to put in their best efforts, for efforts are more important than the actual outcome of the exams. Seeing them through their daily nightmares for the last two years, I thought even if they can sit in the examination hall and write it will be good enough for us!
Two weeks back the results were announced. Imagine our thrill and happiness, not only these children passed but they passed with distinction, both scored 75% and 77% respectively.
Today when were preparing the individual care plan for both the children, the confidence on their faces humbles us. One aspires to become a social worker and the other a lawyer!!!
Thousands of children have passed through this therapeutic community...their scarred souls healed, their despair becoming a real hope and their identity becoming something they are proud to proclaim!
I wish I could share their pictures with the sense achievement they feel today...the law does not permit me to expose the beautiful faces of these extrordinary real heroes who triumph in the face worst possible adversity any human being can go through.