SOCIAL HELP FOR PEOPLE IN NEED IN BENARES
A few examples of our past projects…..
NEW PERSPECTIVES FOR A BLIND GIRL (2012)
Seven-year old Vandana lived with her parents and her nine-year old brother, Pardup, about 15km from Benares in the village of Khalispur, which belongs to the 40 communities we have worked with under our child rights project. She was born blind. Her father struggled to feed the family as his work as a rickshaw driver in the remote area did not generate enough income. Her mother took care of the house, childcare, and cooking. Like many other women in the village, she was trying to earn a little extra income by creating and selling Malas (traditional Indian necklaces). She sold 72 Malas for 10 INR (15 Cent) to a local distributor. This is a dumping price considering she can make only 12 of them per hour and they sell at 20-30 INR per piece at the shops in Benares.
Blind children, like anyone with disabilities in India, face a high risk of unemployment, exploitation, and other hardship. Although her family is caring for her very much, her mother was worried about the girl’s uncertain future. When we learned about Vananda’s case, we decided to support her and her family. We funded her admission into the Jeevan Jyoti boarding school, an institution especially for blind children, to ensure she would be educated despite her disability. Her mother cried tears of happiness and relief when all administrative processes were completed. The girl now lives in a secure environment and receives learning support tailored to her needs. Later she will hopefully be able to have a job and make a living for herself.
Vandana feels very comfortable at the boarding school and has familiarised herself quickly with the new teachers, class mates, and school facilities. In Kabitha, the daughter of the school’s chef, she has already found a new friend.
Saved from deafness (2012)
Pawan lives with his uncle about 70km from Benares in a village called Mirzarpur. During the last Diwali celebrations, which – as usual – involved lots of fire works, the boy had an unfortunate accident. Although fire works that go off with a volume higher than 60 decibel are officially banned, many teenagers still buy those at the black market. Those firecrackers are often low in quality and bear considerable safety risks. Together with alcohol this can be a very dangerous combination, especially in the hands of sometimes foolhardy teens.
When Pawan went out this evening to get milk from a local shop, he accidentally walked right into one of the firecrackers, which went off and suddenly, he could no longer hear anything. His uncle waited for a few days to see if he would recover, but only one of Pawan’s ears slowly seemed to get better. As there is no ENT specialist in Mirzapur and the family struggled to pay medial bills, they consulted a traditional healer, which made Pawan’s condition even worse than before.
His brother Umesh (16), who has stayed in a Back to Life Children’s Home for more than eight years, was very sad when he learnt about his brother’s accident. Immediately, Back to Life decided to support the boy and move him to Benares for a medical check-up. The ENT specialist who examined Pawan offered little hope for his recovery, but started him on a three-month therapy anyway. Though unfortunately the medication did not help. In order to ensure Pawan could restore at least some of his hearing ability and continue to go to school, Back to Life got the little boy a hearing device, which quickly helped him to reintegrate into his daily routines. The brothers are very happy about the straight forward support and that Pawan could be saved from deafness at last.
An update from acid attack victim Savitri (2012)
We have already shared the harrowing story of Savitri (24), who was the victim of an acid attack committed by her husband and mother in-law, which left her whole body cauterised and severely damaged. Except medical support she did not want to accept any other assistance from us. Her gentle and proud character really impressed us. She was sleeping at the river bank of the Dasaswamedh-Ghat and trying to make a living from selling post cards – trying to look after herself all alone.
When we learned that she has been robbed already twice this month, we were absolutely devastated – both times a stranger had approached the young women when she was sleeping, pinned her down whilst covering her mouth so she could not scream for help, and took everything she had. Once earmarked as an ‘easy target’ life on the streets can be extremely dangerous, especially for a young women. In order to save her from further harm and assaults, Back to Life now provides a small room for Savitri together with basic equipment and furniture, including cooking pots, a mattress, and a gas cooker.