In India the number of abandoned children, especially females, is high and continuously on the increase despite the government and NGOs doing their best to curtail this. TEWFI had been concerned with this crisis for some time and this motivated the action for the Foundation to fund Uluru Children’s Home (UCH) in 2001.
Set in a tranquil environment overlooking the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal, the UCH cares for a particularly vulnerable group of children, mainly girls, in the rural Indian communities of Kadapakkam and Alamparai. Since 2003 UCH has been a home for these abandoned or orphaned children. Currently there are 36 children – thirty girls and five boys, between the ages of 6 and 17 years old – living at UCH. UCH has become an integral part of the community by providing employment to local village women and men who lovingly staff the home as house mothers, carers, cooks, cleaners and security.
At UCH the children are given more than shelter, food and clothing, they are given a safe, loving and caring environment. Just as important the children, have access to health care and education, which are crucial in giving them life prospects they would otherwise undoubtedly be denied if they remained in their prior circumstances. In particular, TEWFI has set up:
- an enhanced educational program
- extra-curricular education involving music, sports, and dance (plans for physical education facilities at the Home are being developed)
- special events and trips
- various initiatives aimed at self-sufficiency.
The first of the two new dormitories was officially opened in October 2006. There are plans to increase the number of children to 80 but this is being done gradually to ensure that TEWFI’s working structure is solidly in place to give the children a stable and caring environment.
Read speech on Child Rights in India by Patron The Honourable Ron Merkel QC (PDF file / 404KB).
Many people from a range of countries contributed to the development of UCH.One significant donation by an Indian son honouring his parents allowed the project to begin. Another significant donation came from Australia in the form of the architectural and conceptual design.The theme created is essentially kept in mind the local, indigenous ambience with an emphasis on simplicity with a light, bright, airy, open yet secure atmosphere for the children.
The “wishlist” for UCH can be found here. Please take a minute to browse this list to see if you or someone you know would be willing to donate these urgently needed goods, resources or skills.
Alternatively, you might like to support this service .
A few stories and statistics illustrating the need and success of UCH:
The first two children, siblings came to UCH in 2003 at the ages of 5 and 6. They were referred by Childline ,a child welfare agency in Chennai. Their father had died and the children and their mother were living in a temple, destitute.
The second placement was a nine month old little girl. Her mother committed suicide and her father remarried and abandoned his child after the marriage.
Three sisters came to UCH in 2004 after their father died and their mother attempted to take her children’s lives and commit suicide.
Seven years ago a 7 yr old came to UCH after her relatives no longer wanted to care for her. Her father was murdered and her mother abandoned her as a baby.
Two sisters reside at UCH after their mother died from Tuberculosis and their father left the family home.
The first boys to enter UCH were orphaned after their father was murdered and their mother committed suicide.
The families of all the UCH children are impacted by distressing life events such as alcoholism, destitution, suicide and death by ilness and accident.
UCH has had 75 children reside in the home from 2003 to the present. UCH also serves as a crisis centre, to be a short term placement for children while a parent or a relative takes the necessary actions to have their child return home to them. Thirty nine children have gone home to parents or relatives. These stays have ranged from 7 days to 6 years with the majority of these placements being 2 to 5 months. Just recently three sisters went home after 6 years at UCH. Their mother calls in regularly to report their progress at home and how well they are doing in school. After 5 years at UCH a 16 year old returned home to her mother and again because of the strong emphasis of education at UCH, this child continues her education in the high school.