Pune: Caretakers of orphanages and children’s homes have moved in with the children to take care of the little ones during the lockdown. They are planning different activities to keep the children occupied and taking all precautions to keep them safe.
The caretakers are ensuring that all the children wash hands, use masks and maintain hygiene at the orphanage. The role of these caretakers and managers has become crucial right now.
Param Anand, the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) said that the government has instructed all organisations to create a happy and relaxed environment, where orphans or children with single parents unable to afford their upkeep live.
“We have instructed the children to wash their hands every hour and wear the masks provided to them. The awareness has been created about social distancing and personal hygiene,” said Sharmila Sayyed, administrative officer of Society of Friends of the Sassoon Hospitals (SOFOSH), which is an adoption centre run by the Sassoon General Hospital.
Sayyed said that most of the staff members have stayed back at the centre.
“Many of our staff members are now residing with the children at the centre itself. Those who aren’t residing at the centre have been provided identity cards for free access,” Sayyed said.
All children homes and adoption agencies have restricted entry and exit to the centres.
Keeping them entertained!
“Well, it is definitely a task to keep these children entertained. Earlier, they would go to school, and most of their time was spent outside, but now, they are completely inside the home. We have planned several activities to keep them occupied. The day starts with doing yoga and ends with watching an informative film in the evening,” said Aapla Ghar Founder-Director Vijay Phalnikar.
Social worker Amit Singh, who volunteers at Dnyandeep Balgruh in Dighi, said, “The staff members and children are now cooking together. We, at times, experiment with different cooking items. Today, the children want veg biryani, and I am the chef.”
Shortage of food
Many children’s homes are facing a shortage of food items and are dependent only on pulses. “Fresh vegetables have become expensive and are not easily available. Hence, we are managing with pulses and other stored items,” said Devdhar Surwase, President of Sarswati Anath Shikshan.
Security a challenge
Miracle Foundation India's country head Nivedita DasGupta has stated that many children have gone to live with their parents during the lockdown. “Most of the children who reside at these homes have single parents, hence they live there. However, right now many have returned home. Around 378 children registered with us from across the country have gone back to their parents. Out of these approximately 75 are from Maharashtra,” said DasGupta.
The Miracle Foundation India has adopted four Child Care Institutes in Pune district, and has been supporting the families of children who have returned home at present.
“The main concern at this point in time is, taking care of children who have returned home. We are trying to keep a tab on all these children and ensure their welfare and safety. As among the single parents, many are daily wage earners or work in different unorganised sector. Therefore, it is likely that they are facing a financial crisis at home and this can affect the mental health of children as well. So, we call them every week to take a note that they are safe and aren’t victim to any sexual or physical abuse at home,” said DasGupta adding that providing online counseling to children residing in the children homes is another challenge they are facing currently.