80 children love 'amma' and she loves them right back
Bangalore, Jan 17 (IANS) Meet Sabina Solomon, a woman in her early 40s, who has been single-handedly taking care of 80 children for more than a year at an orphanage here. They fondly call her 'amma', mother in Kannada.
Sabina suddenly found herself charged with the responsibility of taking care of all the children after the death of Gnanapragasam, the founder director of Good News Outreach Mission orphanage at Shivajinagar, in October 2007.
'I came to the orphanage as a bride 17 years ago, as my husband D. Solomon was a warden here. After his death six years back, I decided to stay back here with my three children to take care of the inmates of the home,' Sabina told IANS.
'But, after the death of the founder director of the home, I was left alone to look after the children. I was initially nervous, as I have to look after everything, right from arranging finances to secure education of the children. Earlier I used to cook and teach the children. But after the director's death, I had to step into his shoes.'
But nothing deterred Sabina, not even financial constraints, as she took over, thinking of her dead husband who always believed in serving needy children.
'I am thankful to corporate houses and individual donors of Bangalore, who have come forward to rescue the lives of the children in times of need. Finances have been a major issue with the home, but with the grace of God donors always knock on our doors when we are in dire need of support.'
Two of the corporate houses steadily helping Sabina's endeavours are Samsung and Thought Waves.
The Good News Outreach Mission was founded by Gnanapragasam in 1981 with four orphaned children. Now the home has been renamed Angel's Orphanage. It has eight rooms.
'The children here don't have their biological mothers, but Sabina amma has filled up the vacuum. She not only takes care of the food, clothing and education of the children but is also filling our lives with love and joy,' said the eldest girl in the home, Anna Mary, who is currently pursuing her first year higher secondary studies in the Kamala Bai Educational Trust.
After taking charge of the children, Sabina's main priority was to provide education to all of them. Today all 80 children go to school. Over half of them study in St Xavier's High School, Shivajinagar.
'Providing formal education to all the children is my top priority. I am also planning to start several vocational training courses, including tailoring and basket making, for girl children of the home. Many of our previous children have been trained in various vocational skills in different training institutes of the city,' said Sabina.
Vijay, 25, a former inmate of the home and now employed as an executive with ICICI Bank here, said that he got his second life at the orphanage.
'I had no one to look after me. I am thankful to the home for providing me with good education and helping me stand on my own in life. Moreover, Sabina amma has always looked after the children, even when her husband worked as a warden at the home. Now, she is a like a leader of the home,' said Vijay.
Like Vijay, Priscilla, 20, a former inmate of the home and now working as a manager in a shoe store in the city, said that the home prepares its children to become independent in their lives.
'Sabina amma is a mother figure to all of us. Although earlier she was the wife of the warden of the home, she always used to help her husband in the home's work. Now, we are grateful that she took up the reins of the home after the death of its founder director,' said Priscilla.
Of the 80 children in the home, 43 are boys and 37 girls. The oldest among them are 17-year-olds Anna Mary and Naveen, who is studying in Class 10 at St Xavier's High School. The youngest are four-year-olds Gracy and Vignesh.
According to Unicef India statistics, India is home to 2.6 million orphans. But experts fear the number could be higher.
'Samuel, 15, Angel, 14, and Stalin, 12, are my biological children. But all 80 are my children now and it is my responsibility to take good care of them. And I thank God for giving me a chance to be a mother to all these lovely children,' Sabina said, and bustled off in her blue sari.
(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at email@example.com)
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