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Anjina Rajagopal

Miracle Mother

"God cannot be everywhere and that is why he created mothers" - a jewish proverb

One and a half-year-old Sania was fast asleep in her cozy mattress. Pooja stood close to her and enjoyed tucking her into the blanket now and then. She seemed like waiting for her to wake up, so that they can play. Taarika (1.5) and Maanshi(4) were playing at the backyard. They were pushing their toy car while Pinky, their caretaker, was carrying Aryan (8months) and supervising the household work.

The cloth lines were filled with clothes, and Chotu was rinsing another set of them in the wash room. Loppa was preparing dough for dinner while Poonam was cutting vegetables. The home was spic and span, and everybody was busy with their own work. Anjina welcomed us with her warm smile. "This is where my 46 children live" she says.

The children on hearing Anjina's voice came running towards her, and she spontaneously cuddled them. "Most of the children have come into our homes as infants. We only admit children who are below ten years of age. Our youngest child is Aryan who is eight months old. Children who are abandoned by their parents, and those who have lost their way home are brought to us by the Police. We try our best to trace their families and reunite them," says Anjina.

Anjina hails from a well-to-do family in Bellary. She had a passion for children since she was 10 years old. She was deeply touched by the sight of children beating drums and carrying notebooks, walking down the streets, knocking at every door, collecting donations for the orphanage they lived in. Her family moved to Sandur and later to Delhi in 1976 to get over a personal tragedy. She took up a job, and in 1983 moved to Noida.

She was deeply disturbed by the sight of children being exploited, and on reading the reports in newspapers and magazines about exploitation of children. Images of Bellary came back to mind, which was how the dream was born-a dream of providing a home for these children, where they would not only get food, shelter, clothing, and education but also feel as secure and confident as their more privileged peers.

It took a decade for Anjina to turn her dream into reality. In 1988, PRADAN, a voluntary organization, offered her a fellowship for a period of three months. She visited various homes all over India and made an in-depth study. She also spent 20 days is the Antar Bharati Balgram at Lonavla. By this time, she identified friends who were willing to help her. Thus, the Society SAIKRIPA was formed in March 1989.

She established Bal Kutir-a home for abandoned destitute children-in 1990 at Sector 20 in Noida. "I wanted to give these children their lost home and provide them with emotional as well as physical security. Local people also identify abandoned children and bring them to us. That is how Sania was brought here. Pooja came when she was five years old. We take care of them until they are able to take care of themselves," says Anjina.

Pooja (21) aspires to become a doctor and is presently preparing for the medical entrance examination. She says: "I have seen doctors who demand a lot of money from their patients for treatment. There are poor people in our country who need doctors to provide them treatment at low cost. This is what I want to do. I will continue to remain here as my family is here." "I remember that I belong to Kanpur and had visited Noida along with a relative to spend my vacation. A localite found me stranded and handed me to the police who brought me here. I now have a good and a happy family. There are many children who do not get proper love and affection from their own families, but everyone gets unconditional love and affection here. I feel good when I see children brought into our home as I will be having one more family member. I love to take care of them. It feels good to do something for our younger ones," adds Pooja.

Sai Kripa also runs three schools- Sai Shiksha Sansthan, Sai Bal Sansar, and Sai Vatsalya Vatika.

Sai Shiksha Sansthan is an English medium school with classes up to 10th standard that was started in April 1991 at Vazidpur, a village 16 kilometers away from Noida. Besides children from Bal Kutir, around 300 students from four surrounding villages belonging to the economically weaker section study here. The school charges a monthly fee of Rs.150 per month, and students appear for their Higher Secondary Board Examinations through National Institute of Open Schooling.

Sai Bal Sansar is an informal education centre that was started in November 1999 for the benefit of the slum/street children of Noida. It provides free education and mid-day meal to the under privileged children. The purpose of this centre was to encourage these children to spend their time more fruitfully instead of engaging in beggary.

Sai Vatsalya Vatika which means 'Sai's Garden of Love and Affection' was started in October 2009 for children with special needs. It endeavors to identify the innate talent and potential of each child separately, and nurture them in an appropriate manner through early intervention.

"Whenever I see an abandoned child, I say to myself: God has sent this child to me. It is my duty to take care of her. My oldest child Rajath is now 30 years old. He is a special child who was brought to our home when he was 9 years old. He studied in Sai Vatsalya Vatika school, and we still take care of him," says Anjina.

Since April 2010, Sai Kripa has been offering vocational training for the underprivileged children in the neighbourhood. Computer training, Tailoring, and beautician course is offered to interested candidates and the training period varies from person to person. A nominal amount of Rs. 100 is charged from each participant. Till date, 12 students have undergone the tailoring course, 10 students have completed the beautician course, and 6 have learnt basic Computer programming. In a month's time from now, Sai Kripa will launch its own bakery unit.

Sai Kripa also houses a Goshala. "We have seven cows and so we do not have any shortage of milk. The excess milk we sell to the poor people at a nominal cost, and we use the dung for biogas," says Anjina.

Anjina is the recipient of the CNN-IBN Real Heroes award 2010, and the Sadguru Gnanananda Award for Social Work in 2000. Sai Kripa is located at Z-133-134, Sector-12, Noida - 201301, Uttar Pradesh. Phone: (0120) 2536416/2531521. Email: saikripa1989@yahoo.com. For more information please visit saikripa.org

-Marie Banu

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