"In the first place men should have a fear of the gods above, who regard the loneliness of the orphans." - Plato
Asha (name changed) was a bright girl who used to attend the SEDS school on a sponsorship program. All of a sudden she stopped attending classes. When she returned after a couple of weeks, she was four months pregnant. At the age of 12. Another disappearance followed, and this time Manil sent the reluctant SEDS staff out to search for her. When she returned again, there was no sign of her pregnancy. Patient inquiries revealed that she had been 'sold' to a group of men by her own mother, who had also arranged for the abortion.
Arun and Deepa were found living alone in an empty house. Their parents had died a few months previously. Arun used to dance on the streets, Deepa would try and do odd jobs to make money. When they were found, their hair was lice-infested and living on rice that Deepa would cook at night.
These are just a couple of the stories from the SEDS hostel. Started with the aim of providing shelter to children who needed shelter, the hostel has met with mixed success. Even though it is SEDS that cares for and tries to help, the ultimate authority over the child's future always remains in the hands of the child's relatives, sadly often the very people who look to exploit the children rescued by SEDS. Sponsorship for the hostel has been sporadic. One bright instance came in the form of Belgian funding for a dedicated block of rooms.
But much can be, and remains to be done.
[The article originally written by Amit Manikoth, for SEDS's 30 years celebration. This is simply a reproduction.]