A short write up about the not very popular orphanage “Valsalya Bhavan” and my experience with the kids there.
Valsalya Bhavan is a drop-in-centre for girls who are on the street. The centre was started as a part of the Valsalya Project, a sexual health project for the street/working children.
At present, there are 20 inmates at the Valsalya Bhavan. All 20 girls are school going children between the age of 5 and 18. Most of the children are migrants from other states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Tamil Nadu. After writing the SSLC examination, girls will be sent to Vimalalayam (home for working women and Nun’s) and will be given vocational training based on their area of interest.
At Valsalya Bhavan it’s a totally different scene. It’s a small 2 bedroom rented house where all 20 kids, 2 nuns and a house maid lives. Every Saturday, they welcome us with Lemonade, kappa (Cooked Tapioca) or some other snacks. The kids wait for us to reach there and won’t let us leave even after the class.
Most children are easy; they are adaptable and very affectionate. Some children are tough; they cry a lot, run out of the class, and are easily upset. I still remember, while I was telling them Cinderella’s story, Manimozhi (a six year old girl) screamed and ran out of the class. Similarly, 13 year old Manjusha carries her personal diary with her all the time and would cry if you ask her anything about it.
Initially, kids had a big problem with getting used to me. They hardly ever used to smile. I tried cracking all possible jokes, but nothing helped. As days passed, I realized that the best way to make a child happy is by treating him/her like a grown-up. When a child communicates a feeling to you, you need to make sure that you acknowledge his/her emotion. I started telling them about my college, CAT coaching classes, childhood and friends. And…couples of weeks later, I saw that huge difference in them and now we have a good relationship!
Now when I see them upset, I can easily ask them what is wrong and they share it without crying or yelling. I talk to them just I like talk to my friends and family. They share even their deepest secrets and are willing to sit in my class even if it gets damn boring :) !
My kids taught me the true meaning of love, agony and boldness. I realized how lucky I am to have such good parents, good food and a safe home. Kids at Valsalya Bhavan are matured enough to admit that some of them have seen murders and have experienced real torment.
Being a part of MAD, going to Valsalyabhavan, and spending time with my children has taught me not just about the emotional development of children but also how to thank god for all that I have got in life. Whenever I come across a good quote or an interesting piece of information, I jot it down in my note pad so that I can share it to my kids the next Saturday!
It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve joined MAD and it’s been an amazing journey so far! Special thanks to all those people , particularly Jithin and the other founder members for coming up with such a brilliant idea! I think you guys are truly God-sent…