India has 29.6 million orphaned and abandoned children, as per the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Millions of children are abandoned each year by their parents all too often for several reasons. They are put in plastics bags and left to die in garbage dumps or put away near temples, hospitals and orphanages. Generally, many unwanted newborn children are abandoned because they are female as the family desires a male child, one who will take the family legacy further.
Children are also forsaken when the mother herself is a child or a rape victim or if the parents are extremely poor and do not have the basic means to raise the child. Children born with physical or mental handicaps or illness are also not accepted by their families. Sadly, since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in India, this phenomenon of abandoning children has seen a sharp rise.
The collateral damage of Covid-19
Six-month-old Damini was in a critical condition at a civil hospital when she was abandoned by her parents who fled Ahmedabad. Her parents, daily wagers from a neighbouring state, admitted their ailing infant in the hospital only days ago. They were asked to be tested for the Covid-19 by doctors. The young parents allegedly fled to their village Rajasthan out of fear, abandoning their baby. The poor child did not survive as reported by The Economic Times.
There are many like Damini who have been abandoned by parents or families due to the fear of Coronavirus, coupled with the loss of livelihoods and poverty. A large number of young and older children from marginalized sections of the society have been collateral victims of the pandemic. This includes child labourers, abandoned children, those living child care institutions (CCIs), orphanages, as well as street children. Many among these vulnerable children are malnourished which makes them highly susceptible to the virus.
While the number of abandoned children has increased in times of the pandemic, the adoption activities were disrupted after the lockdown was announced in March. Many children in care homes across India are stuck waiting for homes as their parents have not been able to come to the city or country to get them. As a result, most child care homes have been working beyond full capacity and are in want of resources.
Palna, meaning cradle, is home to abandoned, homeless and destitute children which currently takes care of 75 children currently. It is the adoption centre of our NGO partner Delhi Council of Child Welfare and loving home to abandoned children before they find adoptive parents. Palna provides food, shelter, medication and fulfils various other requirements like additional care for children with special needs. Babies that arrive here are in a precarious state of health – ranging from malnourishment, hypothermic, infants with trauma and congenital defects to mentally challenged. Survival of the newborn is the immediate concern in most cases. Palna has a team of dedicated doctors, nurses and care-givers. They also have a medical crisis unit to handle emergencies among infants and new-borns.
Give these children a fighting chance
With your support, Palna can provide proper nutrition and healthcare facilities to these abandoned children. It takes INR 12.5 lakh to take care of the nutritional, medical and home care requirements of the 75 children for 3 months. This amount also includes expenses incurred to set up and promote this fundraiser. Your donations will be the greatest gift to our community right now. Any contribution to our fundraiser, no matter how small, will bring hope to these young lives. Hold their hands today so that they can have a bright and fulfilling future tomorrow.
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Samar is a Marketing Communications specialist and freelance writer. She has a master’s in marketing and creativity from ESCP Business School. She is an avid traveler and likes to write about technology, travel, wildlife and sustainability.