Aarushi Children’s Home (CHG) is run by Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) for girls in need of care and protection in Gurugram, Haryana. A 24*7 children’s home, Aarushi CHG provides residential as well care and protection services for children. Going beyond care and protection, Aarushi team also provides skill development services for girls for their holistic and all-round development. The home is run by a team of professional team comprising of a Coordinator, counselor, medical social worker and social workers.
Aarushi CHG is an inclusive set up where both neuro-typical and children with developmental difficulties reside. EGIS’s support to Aarushi CHG has enabled provisions of healthy food for girls rescued from streets and difficult circumstances. With the help of the project, 62 girls at Aarushi CHG have been able to access holistic nutrition for overall growth and development. The support includes three cooked meals on a daily basis.
A progress overview of the services being supported under the project has been presented in the following section.
Health and Nutrition: Access to quality health is one of the basic rights of children intrinsically linked to their survival and development. Girls rescued from difficult circumstances live in vulnerable conditions and often suffer from malnutrition and other infections. Thus, ensuring good health of girls is one of the focal areas of work for Aarushi team.
To this end, girls at Aarushi CHG are provided with three hot cooked meals, fruits, milk, eggs and other nutritious meals. Girls who need better health care are provided supplementary nutritious diet to improve their health.
The menu is prepared in consultation with children so that the food of their choice can be included. It is taken care that each meal has a nutritional value and is a blend of proteins, carbohydrate and fiber and at the same time is appealing to the children. During the lockdown, staff and children did engage in non-fire cooking sessions too so that the children feel occupied and productive.
During the reporting period, there were in total 12 children who required special nutrition as they were having physical and mental health issues. Two girls were sent by CWC who were minors and were pregnant. They were provided with nutritious food and medicinal supplements prescribed by the doctor.
Sound mental health is another important aspect of a child’s personality. Every child requires psychological and emotional support and more so those required from difficult circumstances as they come with a lot of emotional baggage and suppressed trauma. Recognizing the importance of psychological well-being, Aarushi CHG has in place a strong mental health programme. As part of the programme, a full time Psychologist is there to help the girls in the center through individual and group sessions and career counseling. During the reporting period, six girls with special needs were provided specialized therapies like Autism, Depression, Schizophrenia, Behavior issues, about 12 girls were given support for career counseling and 25 girls were provided groups sessions.
• There are limited opportunities to constructively engage children with disabilities.
• New challenges are emerging due to COVID- 19 pandemic. Movement of staff was restricted for some time during this period and they were staff shortage initially.
• Children have been home bound since the past 7 months and many children developed psychological problems.
• In the times to come, the focus would be to constructively engage the children by involving more volunteers who can take group sessions with children having similar interests.
• The focus would also be to boost up the immunity of the children and to keep them healthy and secure.
• The infrastructure for online classes needs to be upgraded so that the children keep pace with the school and the extracurricular work too.
Five months ago, Meera (name changed) came to Aarushi CHG and was visually impaired. She was raped by her father and was pregnant. After many years of abuse, she did file a complaint with the police and her father was detained. Her mother who worked as a house help was supportive of her decision but had no financial means to take care of her pregnant girl and termination of pregnancy was not possible. The girl initially was quite disturbed. She was having difficulty coping in the new environment. With the support of Aarushi’s team and children, she started settling down gradually. She was provided with nutritious food at small intervals and the doctor would do regular checkup. A dedicated caretaker was hired who would make sure that she would eat on time and would engage with other girls too. She finally delivered a healthy baby boy who was later put for adoption. Meera has been restored to her mother as per her decision and her mother found a better job and can take care of Meera. The team at Aarushi is in contact with the family and does regular follow up and is looking for vocational training opportunities for her.