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Tabitha Children Home: Home Away From Home

IMPHAL, Nov 12: At a time when even wealthy individuals are reluctant to chip in for a good cause leave alone shoulder responsibilities for the destitute and orphans, Tabitha Children Home at Mantripukhri Raphei Valley has been caring for the young ones who have none to rely upon.

After its establishment in 2000, the centre today has a total of eight orphans, one less than the original number when these children, left behind by parents who had fallen prey to HIV/AIDS, moved in for treatment and care.

A 10-year old girl inmate from Tamenglong district is informed to have passed away in April this year from illness.

In addition to these children who are being provided anti-retroviral treatment (ART) regularly, the Home also serves as a temporary shelter for over 100 widows, mostly from the interior hill district areas.

Talking to The Sangai Express administrators K Thanshok (50) and K Tammi Wungsek (44) said the destitute centre is home for every child, irrespective of caste or religious affinity.

However, for the time being the children are from the hill districts of Chandel, Churachandpur and Ukhrul, the couple said adding that under no circumstances are the children made to feel unwanted.

They also confided that in the initial days of their arrival, the children are put on familiarization exercise as most of them are from remote areas where communication is only through their mother tongue.

After some of these children began to pick up Meiteilon, the lingua-franca of Manipur, they are sent to school including MBC High School where they are currently studying from KG Class upto Class III.

Informing that the eight children are treated at par with their own children a boy and a girl, the couple said like in a large family all of them share the same food and house.

Conceding that sometimes the children return to the centre with a sense of sadness, apparently due to inquisitive queries from their peers with regard to their real parents and place of origin, Thanshok maintained that every effort is made to make them feel at home inspite of their heart rending experiences and life stories.

Conveying to all concerned to bring children who have none to care for them, the couple said these children are also taught that work is worship to enable them live a secured life when they grow up.

They further asserted that claims of relatives, if any, to retain custody of the children would not be endorsed for these children are susceptible to exploitation such as using them as domestic help when they are taken away from the centre. With regard to bearing cost of running the Children Home, Thanshok explained that income generated from rearing fish in the pond of the premises, livestock such as pigs and chicken and floriculture is enough to meet the expenditures.

Moreover, about 100 widows who make the Home their temporary shelter contributes in the form of monetary donation as these women hailing from different parts of the hill districts work as domestic help and other chores to sustain their livelihood whenever they stay at the Home for about 10-15 days at a stretch.

Informing that the home has been registered under Networking Service for Community Participation, Thanshok also confided that services of medical personnel and HIV/AIDS activists are utilized on a regular basis apart from the children taken to JN Hospital for ART.

While contending that till date for financial assistance is extended by the State Government or other NGOs, they also informed that family counseling is also provided to the needy. Family counseling mostly relates to after-quarrel between husband and wife, he informed while reiterating appeal to the general public to help unfortunate children (orphan) find their way to Tabitha Children Home.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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