May 20, 2014: NOIDA: www.nirbhoygram.com: For some of us, the “Nirbhoy” volunteers, today is a day of absolute reckoning. It is stained with pain and agony. Whenever anyone’s rescue is planned, the day brings along a bag of mixed emotions for Nirbhoy Didi. At one end is the immense anguish and sorrow in her mind towards the dismal predicament of homeless person/family to be rescued while at the other end prevails a sense of glee and happiness for their rehabilitation and restoration in a better human setting.
A distressed telephone call from two young engineers working at a reputed multinational company in Noida brought to Nirbhoy Didi’s notice about an abandoned and homeless family of 6 people staying under a tree in parking area amidst four and two wheelers in a glitzy corporate business park. After making futile attempts at few organizations, the two engineers could connect with Nirbhoy team. After a prolonged discussion, Nirbhoy Didi Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury promptly took cognizance of the matter and scheduled a rescue operation for today. She also planned every micro aspect of their immediate restoration to a home in community setting and long-term rehabilitation.
Nirbhoy Didi led us to the spot. Myself and Sonali Hazra accompanied Nirbhoy Didi and were joined by Shilpy Jain and Shweta Soni, of a multinational corporate body, who, in this case, volunteered to inform us about the pain and plight of this poor family. It was a family of 6 people who were residing under shade of a tree. The family’s condition presented an exceptionally dismal picture. The family was a victim of ruthless ignorance by thousands of passersby who crossed the road everyday and parked their vehicles. The family was lying on a base of sand among rags next to an overflowing drain which was a home to houseflies and other insects. In this scorching heat, the unfortunate family members were lying over burning sand. It would not be an exaggeration if it is said that the family was residing in “a hell or inferno” with no access to any kind of shelter, food, water, clothing and health securities. The children were undernourished and barefoot. The father and uncle were in physical pain. The mother eloped with someone not known to the spectators.
The Rescued Family
The rescued family is a family of 6 members comprising of a father, his brother and four young children. The father, Itwari aged approximately 45 years, a fragile man, informed, “hum yahan sadak pe pichle ek saal se rehte hai. Bacche yahin bheekh maang ke kama chala lete hai aur mein kuch yahan wahan se kharcha nikal leta hoon.” His native village is Rajawali Khaddipur in Hardoi region of Uttar Pradesh. He, along with his wife, brother and children came to Noida almost 12 years ago in search of livelihood and worked at different locations and earned petty salary. However, due to a serious medical issue, he got operated last year which left him jobless and rendered him and his family as homeless in face of being unable to pay the house rent where he was previously staying. To make matters worse, his wife Sonam left him and the children last year in the middle of this economic and social struggle. Since then, he has been striving hard to make ends meet but in vain which led the family to road.
His brother, Chandrapal, nearly 55 years of age, was deaf and dumb by birth and, to make misery worse, turned blind around 3 years ago. He is currently a half-dead man, a skeleton who requires round the clock attention and is an economic liability to the family which itself is reeling under absolutely no income.
Itwari has 7 children (3 girls and 4 boys) out of which all 3 girls have been married and stay separately in other towns. The 4 boys, namely Ankit (13 years), Gopal (10 years), Sumit (8 years) and Rajan (4 years) represent a painful predicament. They all were suffering from intense malnutrition and the two younger ones were reduced to bones. All the 4 children had pitiable hygiene and hadn’t taken bath from past several weeks. With no access to education and due to no income, they all were engaged in begging which helped them earn some money. They ate meagre food and several times used to stay without food and drinking water.
In opposition to a common idea of rehabilitation in a shelter home or orphanage, Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury proposed a special rehabilitation plan for the family. This plan entails community rehabilitation where the family shall stay independently and after initial financial subscription for few months, they shall be able to generate their own resources.
Staying in a shelter home commands adherence to the rules and regulations of that home. For an able-bodied person/family, institutionalizing them in a shelter home shall be like putting them under restrictions and denying them their right to independence. Community living shall empower them and give them an opportunity to integrate into the society while being independent.
A hand-made customised slum home was identified in Rangpuri area of Vasant Kunj where the family has been provided a slum based shelter on a monthly rent of Rs. 1300. The basic needs and food have been arranged by Nirbhoy Didi with the assistance of nearby slum dwellers who have come out with an open heart to support and help this unfortunate family. This settlement shall provide the family with social support and security and integration into the community.
Formal education for all the 4 children also forms a priority for us. Practical possibilities for a boarding school or a regular school are being worked upon and shall be decided soon alongside the hunt for an income opportunity for the father of the four.
The following Nirbhoy Volunteers have been nominated by Nirbhoy Didi as Voluntary Members of an Advisory Group for long-term Rehabilitation of the family:
- Mr. Tarun Monga
- Ms. Shilpy Jain
- Ms. Shweta Soni
- Ms. Sonali Hazra
Proposed Schedule of Rehabilitation
- From street to shelter at a humble rented handmade customized community setting slum home at Rangpuri Pahari (Vasant Kunj)
- Basic food, bedding, drinking water
- Access to community living
Long term rehabilitation:
- Settlement at a better location at a pucca structure
- Income opportunity for the Sh. Itwari
- Appropriate long term eye treatment/surgery for Sh. Chandrapal
- Formal schooling for all four children