Renu's Week

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Report of 19 Nov '08

Hello from the Banyan -

Sometimes, it pays to be alive, and in this organisation, and in this profession. There is an opulent house opposite the Banyan Center in Choolaimedu, and I hear a TV star lives there. This morning, 2 little girls were cowering on the Banyan roof, hiding from someone, and we discovered that they worked at said house, that physical abuse (a daily beating) was de rigeur, and the girls really did not want to go back there. The police were called, they came, said they had many other things to do, and said their supervisor had told them the employers could handle the matter with the girls' parents. One of the Banyan employees said complaints about the employers were many, that the police came and usually left without doing anything as the occupants probably bribed them handsomely. This time, the police counted without the piranha tenacity of the Banyan social workers, who called Child Line and an international child aid organisation, and stated that they would absolutely not release the kids to the employers. 1 is an orphan and the other, her cousin, has both parents living. The orphan appears just a tad developmentally slow, probably not having had the means to go to school; the other one is bright, sprightly, stunningly beautiful and articulate, wanting to take care of her cousin. As I write, the girls are being videotaped and interviewed by 1 of the organisations, and their story would be heartbreaking if it were not oh-so common here: "We were left here by our parents saying the summers would be harsh in Andhra (neighboring state), that these folks would take good care of us, that we could return after a year. We get up every day at 5 AM, sweep and mop, put kolam (a decorative design on the floor), and then wash clothes. They give us this many clothes (here, she held out her arms wide) and there are only 3 of them. They beat us if we sit talking to the watchman, and if we play with the kid in the house. The kid beats us, too, with a stick this wide. We want to go home to our relatives." "And then what?" "School." My, here is a 10 year old child wanting to go to school, wanting to escape the drudgery of daily housework (which all of us dread), and in the meantime, we have other kids whining about studies. We are working to rehabilitate the girls, and the social workers deserve accolades for their piranha tendencies.

There is not much one can say after such an experience. We are happy the girls made it to us safely, we find them delightful, and we hope that many more little female people (and of course, male, but those numbers are much less here) escape the harsh confines of dreadful employers; if we find ourselves privileged enough to cross their paths, may we be so blessed.

Hug your children today. Realise that there are many who cannot afford to feed their own, that they must be sent off with some intent (good or bad), that unknown consequences befall the children, and that we are so privileged to see our own, feed 'em, listen to them mouth off, and know they will never be beaten daily by those others who promised to care for them.

Unw -



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