Monday, June 20, 2011

Rehabilitation of Mallesh & Laxmi

Yes !! Its another feather in our crown ;-)

We had already, in the past, facilitated the rehabilitation of 3 children from 'extremely' serious condition to the shelter homes... and we know how cumbersome that process was !  But the outcome of that exercise makes everything worth it !!

A similar case cropped up around couple of months back... 

I am sure, many of our volunteers know our kids - Mallesh & Laxmi -- some of the brilliant & most sensitive kids but unfortunately born in a family that neglected them like anything...

Both of them were admitted to the municipal school by us 3 years back.. their bubbling enthusiasm in the initial days of schooling and 'special support of LEAD to these siblings' in various ways could somehow succeed in retaining them in the system for more than 2 years... we had put in so much of efforts for them....even facing the flak from their school teachers for their shabbiness, irregularity, neglect from their parents, & so on...We had to sometimes even beg before their class teachers to ignore all these secondary things considering this as a special case among our other children...

But gradually, their family atmosphere started going worse & more dominant, than LEAD, over the attitude and behavior of these kids.....and we started feeling helpless about this.. though we never gave up ! Repeated home-visits failed, literally running after them, THANKS to KARTHA MADAM & PATEL MADAM ,,even motivating our regular kids to motivate these siblings... and what not ? Kartha madam used to call me almost regularly for tens of minutes telling me about this chase & run & fail story... ;-)  I tried my best, whenever possible, to first take a round to their home as it was on my way from station to home...to counsel the children and even their parents...

The father is a total gone case..the worst father I have seen in my life !! or should we really call him a father? Boozing off daily, not coming to home often, & if at all he comes, then he comes totally drunk -- he will never skip to abuse his wife as well as innocent kids -- physically as well as verbally -- thus creating an embarrassing & pitiful scene for the mother & his growing kids in front of their neighbors. These neighbors, who are not-so-different & not-so-unfamiliar with such regular incidents in these banjaari bastis -- but still don't mind playing the role of wonderful audience to this free skit !!  

So the father was never on track but at least mother was good. And frankly, we really went there to counsel 'her' and motivate her (our) kids. But gradually, even this poor lady, who single-handedly ran the family after toiling for hours in digging up the roads and other construction work.. she resorted to alcohol .. Why ?

"kya karoo sir... aadmi itnaa maartaa hai... main bhi kaam karke aati hoon.. bahut thak jati hoon... ghar pe aake saman lene ko jane ka...aur khana banana padta hai.. .. phir admi peeke ata hai..gaali deta hai... sabke samne marta hai... mere baccho ko marta hai...mar khane ka takat toh hona chahiye na...?"

This further worsened the already worse condition of children...and we were almost losing the complete hold over the children...  Then one fine day, we got the news from couple of our volunteers and even other kids that these siblings were found begging on the platforms, working for the pani-pura walas washing the dishes for making some bucks.... Why? 

"maa peeke aati hai.... khaanaa nahin banaati hai kabhi-kabhi...baap bhi maartaa hai.."

We zoomed in .. this time for firing the mother. She cried with her own problems, in the drunken state... Meanwhile, the father arrives and he adds fuel to the fire... All this I witness at 10pm !!

Counseling & warnings were already in vain,,, So it was now time for a whip !! Sent SMSes to Aiorli based volunteers to help me with some local policeman in their contact, so as to threaten the kids about the child-labor, jail and all... After lot of follow-ups, a hawaldar helped us... I told him about our work and requested him to come in uniform,,, 

I think it was around 9.30 in the nite...I took him to the shanty where our defaulters stayed,... People had come from their work.. .they looked exhausted....Meals were being made... kids were either wandering or sleeping.... I call the kids....The sight of me with a police-man horrifies them....I snatch their hands and hand-over them to the man in uniform.....He warned them, I made them cry, I made them shout...I made them beg...I made them promise....I knew I was cruel but I knew what & why I was doing !! The best part was, and I am proud of that, all the parents & the entire community supported me and praised me for this trick !!

But it seems Someone did not like this... And I had to pay the price for this cruel stint... I fell down while coming out of this construction site and damn it - broke my knee....some of you are aware about my month long  house-arrest but not about the story behind this ;-)

Anyways, so all these finally did not work... not even my poilce-man wala naatak !! Situation got worst from worse and sadly & helplessly we were getting used to the complaints/feedback from our other kids about the instances of these siblings turning child-laborers cum child-beggars...  But still, whenever Kartha madam used to see them, she always tried her luck...with lots of efforts...little hope...but no fruits... Even I kept the fight ON despite successive failures...because, we knew its not the kids who are at fault !!

It seems to me, now, that Some one was seeing taking a note of all this follow-up & it was a test of our perseverance... Because one fine day,  I got a call from an unknown number --

"Sir, main mallesh ki maa bol rahi hai.. aap please mere bachcho ko kidhar bhi achchi jagah pe daal do.."

I was stunned ! But then happy...I could make out from her tone that she is drunk (& beaten?) so I tell her that I will come to meet her the other day...

"pukka aayegaa na sir ?"

I was happier now. "haan..pukka"

But I couldn't go ;-( She calls up again, complaining about my breach of promise.. 

"sorry...kal subha 7 baje aoongaa....theek hai?"

"pukka aayegaa na?"

"haa baba..pukka..." ;-))

I was late in the morning... so again couldn't go... But I could not dare to betray her that day... It must be around 8.45pm.. I go there to witness complete darkness... 

I had to shout - "Mallesh ki maa?"

2nd time !

I could hear some movements and the lady comes out. Her walking style and body language suggested she was again drunk. I tell her there is no point in speaking to her in such a state. But she insists she is in control of her senses...so I continue...

she pleads for admitting her kids somewhere at the right place.. and then narrating the same sad story...with her hands folded, voice trembling and eyes moist now..... I leave the place after confirming her about her decision and then call up Asra - a boys' home near Airoli, another place where I try to go whenever I get some time....

I narrate the case and since they also know me and LEAD, they agreed for admitting Mallesh... I was so happy...  But their team was leaving for a camp and hence suggested me to follow-up after about 15 days... I inform about this to the mother..She was happy to know that the work has started... This further boosted me...

However, I keep getting 4-5 missed calls in the night every alternate day after about 5-6 days of this incident... A call back would just mean the same inquiry in the drunken state -- "sir, aapne ne poochaa kyaa?  kabhi daalegaa bachche ko?"
Sometimes, this used to be so irritating but I had to really keep myself cool -- a damn difficult task for me  --to understand her pain within.... So I answered her call some times while rejected or ignored the other times...

I had kept a reminder, so did not forget the 15th day. 
That Asra guy had forgotten the story.. and I had to repeat everything....He now suggests me to present the child with the family to child welfare committee, child already has parents and all that process....and then come to Asra ...

"What? Why did not you tell all this things to me 15 days back? We could have been ready with all this till now !"

"mujhe lagaa aapko pata hoga..."

and many not-so-good verbal exchanges followed....Finally I could get him to connect me with some personal contact  in Childline as I was not in the position (& honestly, I could not find anyone from my phone memory who could do this real serious field work task on weekday).. as presenting b4 CWC is not going to be so easy.. we have some very harsh experiences of the past...many questions still unanswered...so just wanted to avert all these and use the influence this time, which I normally don't like...

It took around next 5-6 days for him and my consistent follow-up to share the number of one of the guys from Childline...I thanked him and immediately call him up.... Surprisingly, he is unaware of the story and I repeat again....  After explaining LEAD and our other practical problems, he agrees to pay a personal visit to Mallesh's family...  The date and time gets fixed... 

I ring up one of the most trustworthy persons of LEAD -- Kartha madam -- who is well updated about this story till now.. I request her to coordinate with Childline and escort them to Mallesh's home.... Meanwhile, a similar case of a widow with 4 kids had cropped up in our sec-17 community and we thought of presenting her case also to Childline on the same day...

Kartha madam had finished her 10-12 batch.. which normally finishes not before 12.30... Sharad (from Childline) had still not arrived and I had to creep in for this problem.... "I am still in train.. will take one more hour"

I apologize to kartha madam and request her for the support... 
I knew she will agree instantly....

Both connected... at about 1.30pm.. Kartha madam first took her to mallesh's home (airoli gaav),.. both the mothers were 'strictly instructed' (as request does not work with them, even if its for their benefit) not to leave their homes that day..... Childline interviewed the mother with all the history/geography/problems/reasons and even about LEAD's support... Fortunately the father was also present at this time and he witnessed all these proceedings.... He did not want to send his daughter away from her...son may go...But the daughter really needed more serious support...anyone could make out, if her health is not taken seriously, she could die any moment....and einkettis' younger brother's case is still haunting us... But Kartha madam could take him into confidence and this helped Childline in developing a good faith about us and our work.... 

So this was done.. and Kartha madam now got Sharad to our center (as its on the way) for a break and even to show our work properly, before taking him to sec-17... I got a call from her at this stage and it was a big relief from me....  they then left for another family in sec-17 and similar process was repeated..... 

I again get a call, this time from Sharad that he has taken down all the details and photos and will soon revert back... I thank him gratefully and the matter closed.,...

The same night, I get a call from Mallesh's mother... but this time her tone was different.... It was all praises and thanks and gratitude and no complaints..... I suggested her to look after her kids well till the process gets fully completed....Both of us hang up happily ;-)

After about 2 days, I get a call from Mr. Sharad to tell both the mothers to come along with their kids to UlhasNagar -- child welfare committee office.. at about 11am on Friday I guess... He had already presented the case to them and CWC wanted to meet them now.... So we give the hindi translated address to mallesh's mother and tell both of them to coordinate and go together at the venue.... It was tough explaining her how to reach there from Airoli...   Sec-17 mother was instructed to reach Mallesh;s home at 9am so that they can reach there at 11am...  But they did not each other... So I take Krsihna (the sec-17 boy) on my scooty and show him Mallesh's home .. It was dark again and so I tell him to observe & remember the landmarks properly... He sounded more confident than me ;-)

The next day -- d-day --- breaks open... I get a call from Mr. Sharad at 10.30 am asking if the ladies have left... I tell him they would have left, for sure...they might be on the way... Still I call up Mallesh's mother to take the stock of the situation and get shocked to hear that she is still in Airoli !!!
She gives me the silly excuse that the other lady has not yet turned up....  I had to instruct her to run immediately for the venue or face disappointment.... I apologize to Mr. Sharad and request her to cooperate...

She again calls me while in the train as to get down at which station... she has misplaced the address slip !! Fortunately I had one and so request the lady sitting next to her to make her get down at the right stop.... I had to also give the cell number of Sharad to her again... 

God knows what happened after this.... But I got a call from Sharad after couple of hours that the case is done !! An official order was passed by CWC to admit both the siblings - Mallesh and Laxmi -- in the same ashram (hostel )..  The place was Satkarm Ashram.. this is near Badlapur....

I feel a sudden splurge through my body because--
1) both the siblings will stay together
2) this is in badlapur -- a place not at all unfamiliar to us now ;-)
3) It was through childline and CWC-- official bodies and hence the place can be trusted....

I go full-on and thank Mr.Sharad for all his effort and patience.. and he humbly acknowledges "Its part of my job!!" He tells me to send the children to the ashram anytime after 3-4 days... as he will have to first go and inform them about these 2 new inmates...and complete other formalities...  This reminded me of our previous case of Deepa and Durpa -- we had used this filler time to arrange for necessary items for the children.... 

That night I go to Airoli gaav to see the smile on the face of Mallesh's mother and take her children's bites...and then to sec-17  to know the reason for defaulting by that lady.. she gave a silly stupid reason for which she had to face my flak ....

I gave the good news to kartha madam & requested her to help mallesh's mother with raincoats and all, as suggested by Sharad...
And she did this work beautifully again !!

Children were super excited with all these... there was no sign of any kind of pain due to departure from their mother... as expected ! 

In fact, they had even happily started coming to our center after this and I and kartha madam were surprised to note this !! may be we should have intervened long back to see these smiles and relieve them of the pain and plight they have gone through...but we somehow never thought of this option... thank god, their mother called us that day and the process picked up !!

Another d-day arrived ;) It was time to escort these kids to the ashram now.. Sharad was gong to wait for us again at Badlapur station...and don't know why, I wanted one of us to be present during this final journey.... one reason being the moral support for our kids....and secondly to tell childline and ashram people that we are still there for these kids !!

But who will go? It was a day-time and weekday.... During such  field-work cases, the only names that come to my mind are Avishkar and Snehal....  I ringed up this guy and fortunately he had the night shift that day... He was so happy to hear all these.... & I knew this as he too has taken lot of pains for these kids during the days of our 1st center at airoli-gaav.... I connected all three of them and they coordinated beautifully... I requested Avishkar to do all the scrutiny for our satisfaction and he gave me the good news in the night while on his way from the ashram for his night-shift job. 

Mallesh's mother again called me up in the night to say Thank You. I could feel extreme ecstasy in her tone...She really liked the place a lot and more- her both the kids were together.... and we will be thankful to Sharad and CWC for taking this sensitive decision...

Things were going good.... I had got a call from Sharad after 3-4 days regarding the Leaving certificate of these kids... as they need to be admitted to appropriate grades over there.,.. I promised for all the coordination and our volunteers Abhinay, Kartha Madam and Sadanand too were roped in for the reqd. support at various levels... This further delighted Sharad about our team-work ;-)

But seems, things didn't really want to end so easily and happily.,... Some more challenges were on the way... I suddenly get a call from Sharad in an angry and upset tone...He complained to me what kind of case I have referred to him...I was taken aback hearing all this...

"the mother had gone to the ashram and started fighting with the people over there to allow her kids to go with her to her native for her grandpa's last rites... if you remember, we had told you and her in the beginning itself that such things wont be entertained...we have seen many such cases and kids & parents dont turn up back thus wasting our all the time, efforts and money.. when denied, she insisted for the release of her daughter at least, if not the boy... that ashram people called me up telling what is this case..I told them not to entertain her and tell her to speak to me... "

I felt embarrassed....& I completely agreed with him on this matter... I too cant trust this drunkard family till now....and anyways, grandpa was dead now and not dying...besides, kids' school had started... and many other valid reasons... I requested him for lending us some time to look into the matter... 

I had no choice to go and speak to her personally about her shit-skit... next day was saturday and I so I planned to rope in Kartha madam again for this second & more challenging round... She too got deeply upset hearing all this and we instructed her to turn up at the fixed venue and time... she came worried, tensed as if prepared to take the whip from us....

After we gave her our piece of mind , she opened up the secret - 'meraa aadmi mujhe bahut maartaa hai...boltaa hai ladki ko leke aa...nahin leke aayi toh teraa khoon kar doonga...main kya karoon madam, mujhe bahut dar lagtaa hai...sab log bhi mujhe yahi bolta hai ki ladki ko leke aa...'

I had to calm down now...but asked her what was more imp for her.. her own breaths or her children's lives... I warned her, if she gets her daughter out, I will see to it that even her son will be out and both will be back to shit forever... I even told her to file an FIR against her husband...

We had by now started walking on the road with umbrellas pulled up.... Seeing her pain and worry, Kartha madam intervened and tried to console & counsel her... I knew she is the best person for this,,, Even I knew that the mother would listen to her... She suggested her the best option -- go away somewhere where her rascal husband would not be able to trace her.....

"agar main aapke jagah pe hoti toh main toh yahi karti..jaao na..itnaa kya darta hai apne aadmi se... kuch nahin hogaa..." 
 
I could feel the real power & confidence & boldness in this old woman's voice....  ;-)  There was some pause now.. seems, everyone was thinking something... ;-)  by this, we reached the crossroads at which we had to take our diff paths and I thought of again re-iterating our decision.... "Remember -- your daughter will not come out alone... be prepared to look after your son as well then... "  I knew, she will NEVER let her dear son suffer again.. she had spoken to both of them... both of them were very happy over there.....

She took the right and we took the left, further discussing about this serious issue...we decided, we will never ever intervene into such rehabilitation matters now... Draw a strict line -- this is just what we do !!

I call up Sharad in the night to update him about this  and he seemed quite satisfied with our action.... I told him to just wait and watch now,,,as we dont have an option...

Fortunately, neither he nor we received any call from this mother in the next few days....  ;-)

But some other magic did happen.... I got an email from one of our badlapur based volunteers - Suneel Sir - who goes to Lavhali on every saturday to teach maths to our elder students over there... He is also associated with this ashram since long and goes there to teach the kids over there... ;-)

On Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 11:00 PM, suneel karve <suneelkarve@gmail.com> wrote:


Hello Rupesh,
Today during casual discussions i learnt from Mallesh (Rathod) that he was attending "LEAD "sessions while in Airoli. His Face actually brighened up whan he spoke about Airoli. He is in Satkarma Ashram from June 2011 . Even his sister Laxmi  staying in Ashram seemed to have fond memories of about LEAD.Other boys have informed me that Mallesh is quite bright and good in studies.

So, I tell Suneel Sir about Mallesh and Laxmi's story in short...

On Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 11:00 PM, suneel karve <suneelkarve@gmail.com> wrote:

I do not find a student like Mallesh with zeal to learn and having his survival instinct in full force.
Its not that I had forgotten them..But I was planning to go to satkarm-ashram personally and surprise mallesh and laxmi, instead of talking to them over phone... but unfortunately, some other more imp things always cropped up in airoli or gahnsoli...And secondly I knew they were safe and happy as I had paid a visit to this ashram long back... b4 this case...  ;-))

But as they say -- We don't need wires to communicate our genuine feelings.....  ;-) and I received a call from Mallesh and Laxmi from Ashram a week back ;-)  ( thanks to Suneel Sir again )

"Sir, aap kaisa hai?"

It was Mallesh's voice...There was so much of zeal and happiness flowing out from one heart to another heart through wires....oops, wireless ;-)

"main theek hoon..tu kaisa hai?"

"main bhi achchaa hoon.."

"achcha lagtaa hai na, wahan pe?"

"haan"

"school jaataa hai?"  

"haan"

"roz?"

"haan"

"khana achha lagta hai?"

"haan"

"naya dost log milaa kya?"

"haan.. ashram mein bhi..aur school mein bhi..."  

Finally, 'Answer in One Word' type responses came to an end ;-)

"hamaara yaad aataa hai?"

"haan..bahut aataa hai..."

"kartha madam ka yaad aataa hai?"

"haan"

"Oonko kuch bolneka hai tujhko?"

"kya bolneka?"  ;-))  

"theek hai...tere behen ko phone de..."

"laxmi ko?"

"haan"

I could hear some hand-over...

"Hello?", a loud and confident one from the other side.

And I was like -surprised. You won't believe this... But I could actually feel some difference in her voice and tone... It sounded quite matured.. But it's still difficult for me to grasp this...I am eager to verify this personally now...

And the same Question Answer sessions got repeated, but with more enthusiasm from my side this time ;-) After all, I am a modern teacher, why should I take trouble in inventing new questions ;-P  Cut, copy , paste ;-P

The new things that she added were some demands.... ;-) Yes, she actually gave me  a demand list ;-) 

"mere ko bindi chahiye, kaan ka bhi nahin yeh, gale ka haar nahin hai.. haath mein baangdi bhi nahin hai.... mallesh ko bag chahiye... mere liye ek aarsaa lekar aao...baal ka tel bhi chahiye..."

I happily & patiently did the job of a loyal waiter ;-))  I said her ok but I said to myself -- 'Not only yours, but the list of all your inmates will soon be fulfilled'

"aap kabhi aayegaa?"

"jaldi hi aaoonga"

"kabhi?"

"bahut jaldi"

"kal?"

Oh my god !! This little lady seems to have decided to take me head-on ;-))

"nahin kal nahin.,,,.lekin jaldi hi aaoongaa...."   ;-))

I am still craving for that jaldi'....  ;-((  

Do check the smiles attached....  and even this link that will navigate you to the ashram where they are admitted..... Thanks to Avishkar for the ashram snaps...
https://picasaweb.google.com/lead.airoli2/RehabilitationOfMalleshLaxmi




Mission Successful !!!! ;-))

-- 
Thanks & Regards

Rupesh S Gesota
LEAD Foundation
www.lead-foundation.org


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dental Camp for our Ghansoli kids


11th June 2011,
 
Dental Camp at LEAD’s Ghansoli centre with the help of Dr. Neha Gupta
 
11th June Saturday morning was the time fixed for a dental camp at Ghansoli, but it was pouring in Navi Mumbai since Friday night. We were too skeptical about the turnout of kids due to heavy rains. When I spoke to Dr. Neha, she was ready & quite enthusiastic to visit Ghansoli centre after having wonderful experience with our Airoli kids. We decided - we have to make this event successful in spite of heavy rains. Called up all our volunteers Jyothi mam, Avishkar, Dishendra, Dr. Shehnaz, all was set. Avishkar took the responsibility to bring all our kids from the community. Dishendra took care of all the arrangements required at the centre for the camp. Jyothi mam & Dr. Shehnaz were well before time, waiting for the activity to begun.
 
I picked up Dr. Neha from Ghansoli station at around 10.30AM. She got settled with all her equipments, waiting for the kids. Within 5 minutes Avishkar was there with all our kids. Kids were so excited to see Dr. Neha & instantly liked her. After the introduction session, Dr explained the Do’s & Don’ts of oral care in very simple & interesting language, which they listened carefully & even promised to follow them. Then there was a question- answer round, which went great, as usual they were fighting to answer first, Juhi won her heart by answering real smartly. Post that Dr. Neha examined all the kids individually & noted the details. She assured to take those kids who needed follow-up to D. Y. Patil Dental Hospital for free treatment.
 

Subsequently we finished the event by giving every child a gift hamper that consisted of a set of small cute toothbrush & toothpaste. Kids loved it so much, just waiting to go home & try it & pass on the new things learnt to their family members.
 
It was a great experience for all volunteers too as all the kids were smiling with their shining teethJ & were benefited by this activity. We all as a LEAD family, thank Dr. Neha for taking out time from her busy schedule & coming all the way in the heavy rains to make some difference in our kids’ lives.

We would now like to know from Dr.Neha as to how was her experience during these camps and if she has some suggestions for us and our kids.
 
Please find the pictures of this wonderful event at:
 
Thanks & Regards,
Nilima Kirdat
LEAD