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In Faridabad, A Home For Orphans Left Out Of The Adoption System

What happens to the abandoned orphans who do not manage to even enter the adoption system?

In Faridabad, A Home For Orphans Left Out Of The Adoption System
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As per studies and surveys conducted in 2018, there were about 30 million abandoned or orphaned children in India, out of which not even five lakh make it to institutionalised care.

With years of waiting to get picked by a family, adoption in itself can be a cruel process for children. But what happens to those who do not manage to even enter the adoption system?

If they’re lucky, they get rescued by children’s homes, like the one run by Veena Lal.

After working with NGOs focusing on child welfare, Lal decided to start an institution of her own about 25 years back. Thus, Karm Marg Charitable Society, was born with the objective to fill the gaps in the system to take of at-risk children who were often left out of the system.

Located in Faridabad, Karm Marg currently houses 52 children aged between five and 17 years.

“We run a home for children who require a safe place for the long term. These are at risk children. Mostly these children are runaways or children of migrant labourers, or those who have been victims of bonded labour, trafficking, child abuse, and any other child who requires a safe home,” Lal says.

The NGO takes care of the kids' basic essential needs by providing food, shelter and clothing and also offers education to ensure that the children are independent and capable of earning a living once they leave their homes.

According to government regulations, a child cannot stay at a children’s home or a similar facility after he/she turns 18. In most cases, children end up in government-run aftercare programmes about which several horror stories have been reported.

To keep the children safe from such cases of ill-treatment or harassment, Lal has instituted an aftercare program of her own on the same campus as the NGO.

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“As part of the aftercare program, we can keep children for another 3-4 years till the age of 22. We want to ensure that they are settled before they leave the home. For example, if a child is in the middle of their education, we can’t let them go just because they are 18. So, these children move to the aftercare program.

“The program is important also for children who come to the home at the age of 15-16 but might be in an unstable mental state and need more time before they leave us and be on their own. Our job is to make sure that they are completely ready. The provision period for the same is from 18-22 years,” Lal explains.

She says the importance of education, learning a skill, and the need to be able to earn a livelihood is inculcated within these children as soon as they turn 15, and Lal and her team at Karm Marg continue to be of aid even after these children leave the facility.

“We prepare the children mentally from an early age… their training begins at 15. Apart from education, they also have to learn additional skills that would help them in income generation in future. Even after they leave the home, we continue to help them whenever they need us.

“For example, in case one of them has taken a place on rent and they need help with that, we support them with a few months of rent,” she says. 

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