Published: 31st December 2018
Odisha couple becomes the ray of hope for abandoned street children
Shyam Sundar and his wife Kasturi have been running the orphanage for more than 33 years now, using government funds and public donations
Bringing a glimmer of hope to many of the poor and abandoned children in Odisha's Kalahandi district, a couple has taken up the noble task of giving these children a brighter future.
Shyam Sundar Jaal and his wife Kasturi Jaal, even though are not blessed with abundant wealth, are rich in their thoughts and aspirations, and were once unable to send their children to school. The turning point came when the couple found an abandoned child left at a distance from their home, compelling them to build an orphanage by the name of 'Yosoda Orphan Ashram', along with a board outside stating that children should not be abandoned.
"It has been 33 years since I opened the orphanage. I have been managing it with help of government funds and public donations. I have named the orphanage after my mother. In the home, girls have outnumbered boys. Nobody wants girls here as they are a burden to them. So many throw them in the rivers, or lakes or abandon them near the roadside, where they become vulnerable to attacks by stray dogs," Shyam Sundar said. The then District Collector of Kalahandi Rupa Mishra helped in constructing this house and also inaugurated it. The local Members of Parliament (MLAs) also provided funds to Shyam Sundar Jala for making a shelter home for the orphans. Shyam Sundar and his wife were looking after the orphans along with their own children until the orphanage was completely constructed. Once it was built, all the children were shifted to the orphanage.
Sundar, who works as a construction worker and a part-time tailor, began to raise the orphaned children like his own. In addition, the couple also gave their own name as legitimate parents to all the children in the school along with their own, including birth certificates. "I have seen Shyam Sundar playing the role of a father to the orphaned kids while his wife as a mother. Many people visit this orphanage on various occasions including birthdays and festivals and greet children. However, what the government pays them as funds are really less and therefore, I appeal to the Government of India, the Odisha state government, NGOs and various charitable organisations to help the orphanage," said Kanhu Aggarwal who provides aid to the orphanage.
However, Shyam Sundar Jaal and his wife Kasturi do not consider the child to be orphans or illegitimate. The couple instead blames the parents by saying that due to the fear of the society or inability to raise them people throw away their children on the road like this. Both husband and wife find happiness in raising children. Every child calls Sundar and his wife - father and mother. With the help of the neighbors, the couple has been able to marry off as many as 15 girls from the orphanage. They say that the number of girls has become less; therefore, people adopt less number of girls these days. People come to the orphanage to find brides for sons and similarly, girls also consider the orphanage as their own home.
Shefali Mishra, who works with the Centre for Civil Society, a policy think-tank in New Delhi, visited the orphanage and expressed delight after meeting Shyam Sundar and the children in the orphanage. She said, "I came here to attend the Kalahandi dialogues and I am really happy to visit this place. What Shyam Sundar and his wife is doing is very charitable work. What is most interesting about this orphanage is that the girl population is more than the boys. The government should also do a ground level analysis and conduct regular monitoring. The orphanage should be provided with proper funding because they are not asking for the help to sustain themselves; instead they are asking for the ones who are actually in need."