V. Mani, the unsung hero who has given a new life to the children of life-term prisoners
“I want to become an IAS officer”, says twelve year old Smitha. When asked why, she says, “Maybe I can do something good for the poor”.
Like Smitha, there are so many other children from over 300 families of life-term convicts, who can now be able to dream of becoming police officers, IAS officers, doctors or teachers. And this was made possible by V. Mani.
While working as an assistant general manager at the Reserve Bank of India, Mani had to pass by the central jail in Bangaluru every day. The sight of relatives, particularly children, waiting outside the jail to see their loved ones deeply touched him and made him realize that he needed to do something for the children of the prisoners.
“The children of life convicts are rendered as orphans for all practical purposes, so I decided why not to do something for them and hence ‘SoCare Ind’ (Society’s Care for Indigent) was born”, says Mani, who started ‘Socare’ in 1999, along with his wife Saroji, after his retirement. The couple put their retirement money and all their life’s earnings to this noble cause.
“To see children crying outside the jail moved me and the thought that the bread earner of the family was inside made me even more sad. These kids were being treated as burdens in society.”
The NGO’s representatives visit the prisoners and their families. They counsel the family on how the children’s future will be secured with them. Children are taken only with parent’s consent. SoCare runs three centres, Rajajinagar (girls) and Laggere (boys) in Bangalore and one in Gulbarga. The NGO doesn’t see them as children of murderers, rapists, robbers and pickpockets. It treats them with dignity, restores their innocence and helps them return to the mainstream with self-belief and hope. Today ‘SoCare’ have nearly 200 children under its care.
The main focus is on the basic education to the deprived and providing comprehensive care to the children of prisoners in Karnataka. The children are also provided with vocational training after 10th standard. Along with education, children are also encouraged to take part in other activities like singing, classical dance, sports and craft. Two boys have participated in national level Taekwondo competitions.
“My mother is an illiterate. Me and my brother joined SoCare Ind. After doing B.Com, I joined an insurance firm. I will join an auditor in six months. My brother scored 93% in SSLC. SoCare has brought light into our lives. We have now joined our mother as she is a heart patient”, says a girl who was a toddler when her father was convicted for a crime.
These children’s childhood would have withered away either in a jail or in the big bad world where they would have never been allowed to overcome the stigma of being a convict’s child. Thanks to V. Mani and his noble cause which let these children to take a positive direction in their life. After all, every individual have got the right to dream big and make that dream come true.
Source : http://www.socareind.org/
Courtesy : IBN Live