It’s 4 PM and the school bus is dropping off children at Adrian’s home. Sister Claire is waiting for them in front of the door. She knows the rest of the day is going to be busy for her. “Don’t run! “, “Go take your shower!” The children hustle around with their belongings before having their snack. Then, its time for homework and dinner.
This is how life goes at Adrian’s -following a strict routine. Adrian’s Home opened in May 2017. It is one of the houses opened by a local NGO – Dream India Network. The principle behind this routine is aimed at creating the best environment possible for each child. The president of DIN Father Edwards’ life goal is the fight against child poverty. He has seen the change in Bangalore, how the city grew, attracting more and more people from the countryside, people who were looking for new opportunities. But this uncontrolled growth created urban poverty and the most vulnerable; the children were the most affected.
This is why, with a small team, he started opening foster homes to offer shelter to these children. Casa Foundation joined him in this fight, they implemented projects together and today 54 homes are opened welcoming more than 400 children. Dr. Benjamine Oberoi, the founder of Casa Foundation, has been working in the development field in India for 30 years. In 1998, she created the French NGO Objectif France Inde and in 2016, she created Casa Foundation, which develops projects of rural development, education and women empowerment in Bangalore and in Tamil Nadu.
DIN and Casa Foundation are not the only actors of this change. The main people involved are the woman taking care of them. It is Sister Monica who dedicates her life to 10 disabled children and always worries about how to do more while already not having a single moment for herself. It is Sister Claire who gets the children singing and dancing in the home. It is Sister Daisy who tries so hard to shout at the 8 little boys she is taking care of but cannot prevent herself from smiling at the same time.
This dedicated staff makes the answer possible. All of us, we focus on the same goal: improve the answer. All the houses follow specific rules and have to meet standards. The children are welcome in a secure and family environment, they are enrolled in private schools where they follow courses in English; they all have to pass their exams and receive homework assistance. We try to ensure them future opportunities and that they become adults who will have overpassed their traumas, who will not go back to the street, who will move forward. We know it is going to take a long time, that medical teams, psychological support will not be enough.
Sometimes, a familiar face shows up at the home. It can be Sister Lizzie, the very first face they met at the beginning of their new life. She is the one in charge of the family assessment, the talk with the parents and the final decision to welcome a child in a foster home. Sometimes it’s Tena or Misty, volunteers who help them with the homework and teach them English. Sometimes it’s Deepa, the government nurse. Sometimes it’s me, I volunteer in Casa Foundation and try to make sure all the requirements are met. I organize collections of donations, awareness campaigns, and activities with the children. Last time, we went to Decathlon, and for some of the kids, it was the first time they have ridden a bicycle! It was an amazing day, the children laughed and played. I remember them sleeping in the bus on the way back, they looked so peaceful; we almost forget where they come from.
We learn a lot from the children as well, from their strength and how they always help each other. When they arrive in the home, the children have experienced hunger, poverty, and violence. They all have very different stories and backgrounds, some of them have loving parents who do not have the financial resources to take care of them but will do anything to be involved in their lives at the foster home, some have no one and have to stay in the houses while others go back to their family on holidays. These differences are often overcome by the family environment created in the home, not just by the Sisters but also with the support between the children themselves.
I remember that I have always been told that Sathia, an 8 year old boy, could not speak English properly. When I sat next to him and explained to him that it was okay to make mistakes he suddenly could tell me the alphabet in one breath! They remind us that the most important thing in life is love – how it is given and received; society’s idea of family and childhood may be in a box but in this home, we create our own rules. We show love with no boundaries and this is how we create an adult out of a child.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
The needs are very important in homes. You can financially support a home but also help by donating clothes, toys, shoes, sports items and books (for ages between 5 to 12 years old) as well as hygienic items, house items (beds, linen, towels), electronics (printers, speakers, computers, etc.) and nappies
The Indian education system puts a lot of pressure on the children and they often have a lot of homework. You can volunteer in a home to help them with their homework (approximately 4 PM-6 PM)
When we organize outside activities, you can come with us and help watch over the children
For any additional information please contact us: [email protected]