Helping these ‘poor cousins’ to migrate to a better future
By Priyanka S Rao | Express News Service | Published: 14th January 2018 02:57 AM |
BENGALURU: Radhika’s parents, who are construction workers, had come to Bengaluru from Yadgir about four years ago in search of a better life. But they struggled to eke out a living here. Their address kept on changing between Byrathi and Banashankari, but the acommodation remained the same--tatty tents. With no drinking water supply and no toilets at home, they had little time and resources to take proper care of Radhika.
But four years down the line, Radhika’s life has changed drastically, courtesy-Amar Daniel. “Radhika is now in fifth standard, and she never misses her classes at a government school. She can easily solve the maths questions, and her handwriting and sincerity come in for praise by her classmates and teachers. She also takes proper care of her hygiene and health,” says Amar, who founded the Ananda Sagara Trust in 2014 to provide kids of construction workers and other labourers the basic necessary facilities.
From teaching them to wash their hands with soap to instilling in them a sense of higher purpose in life, Amar trains them in several ways to live in the civil society and compete with privileged kids. “About 5,000 to 7,000 migrant workers come to Bengaluru every day. Children of these migrant workers are a neglected lot. They are forced to live in pathetic conditions and are deprived of nutritious meals and proper education. They drop out of schools and are vulnerable to anti-social elements,” says the 50-year-old.
At Ananda Sagara, which is located off Hennur Road at Kothnur Post, the kids are provided with nutritious meals, a safe and hygienic environment and necessary life skills. “And I am their barber, teacher, cook – all in one,” quips Amar.
The children of Ananda Sagara attend a government school in Kothnur. At the centre, they learn three languages, including Kannada, and Mathematics. That apart, the kids are actively involved in building the home. Their home is rustic yet charming. Everything is hand-made – right from the chicken coop to the jungle gym. Arts, music, trekking, dancing, carpentry, tailoring, cooking and gardening are some of the other skills they pick up here. “I want these ‘poor cousins’ to lead a normal life like other children,” says Amar.
How did this compassionate journey start? Amar was once approached by a friend who had brought with him a few kids from a village near Chikkaballapura. The kids were in desperate need of a safe home as their single parents were unable to take care of them. When Amar got them admitted to a government school in Kothnur, the headmistress suggested that he start a shelter for children of construction workers. And thus the idea of Ananda Sagara was born.
Ananda Sagara is home to 15 children in the age group of 6-14 years. “Our centre is spread over almost half an acre with 10 independent rooms. It costs around `60,000 per month to run the home. Contributions from local individuals help me run this centre,” says Amar, who was earlier a businessman.
Facilities/activities at ananda sagara
- Garden, small playground, jungle gym, library, arts and crafts room, kitchen, prayer and music room.
- They also have pet animals
- They recycle waste, water and use drip irrigation.
- All structures at home are handmade
- Vegetables are grown on the centre premises itself
Several Reasons For Parents To Be Happy
It takes a village to raise a child, goes an African proverb. At Ananda Sagara, children get to enjoy not only a different environment and lifestyle, but also different cuisines. Amar invites mothers to cook for their children, which is shared by all. The kids here develop a great bonding with one another. Generally, parents visit the children once in three or six months. “Their joy knows no bound when they see their well-behaved and well-dressed children,” says Amar.