Orphanages are the only places that leave me feeling both empty and happy at the same time.Ever since my childhood, I have heard people saying that life never gives you a second chance, but I beg to differ. I believe every day comes with a new chance, a new ray of hope, a new wonder, a new miracle and a new opportunity.Each one of us is blessed with a uniqueness that nobody can takeaway from us but at the same time, our hearts hold some secrets which we never want to reveal to anyone else. I call the part that holds these memories as the “Pandora’s box”, a box full of broken dreams, wishes and sacrifices that will always be carried by us no matterwhere we go. Sorrows come in many forms, there is still an ongoing debate about which pain is more difficult to bear and which scars never heal. As per my experience and observation, I feel losing your parents and ending up living as an orphan at some orphanage far away from your home is the biggest tragedy.
I once got a chance to visit an orphanage, popularly known by the name of J&K PET (People’s Educational Trust) Welfare Society. PET came into being on 26th April 2000 with registration of the trust deed for enabling, preparing and positively assisting the youth to seek education and empower them to live a useful life with dignity, honor and self-reliance. I had never felt so moved before this visit. As soon as I entered this building, I was welcomed by a lady who was curious to know about my whereabouts. After introducing myself, she directed me towards the office for a tête-à-tête. She told me about the history of the orphanage and also about the facilities being provided to the girls there. Since I was more interested in meeting the girls living there, she asked a few girls to come to the office so that I could interact with them. After sometime a girl named Zainab came to me. She was in her teens and extremely shy. I tried my best to put her at ease and asked her to tell me about food she liked. Peeping hesitantly at me through her eyelashes, she replied in a whisper, I like eating Lays. I smiled andreplied, Me too and the wall of shyness was broken. She talked about her dreams of becoming a doctor and her determination and passion, which clearly reflected in her excited voice, put all my fears to rest. Another pretty little girl who must have been hardly 12 joined us after a little while. She was called Fiza and it was only her 6th day in the orphanage. She was quite sad and even though she refused to speak, I just wanted to continue sitting there looking at her sad face and reassuring her that everything was going to be alright.
In the meantime, one of the Trustees came and volunteered to show me the premises. Presently, around 40 girls are living there and being taken care of. There is no process to adopt these girls. But after attaining suitable age, their guardians take care of them. I inquired about the most frequent cases the trust gets. I was informed that mostly father-less kids, whose mothers are unable to take care of them by themselves either because they have remarried or aren’t that well off, were brought to live there. Looking at all those innocent little faces and seeing how the Trust gave them a chance at a better life, I realised that I can never thank themenough for the selfless service that they are doing.
This particular orphanage also has two more branches, one in Sopore for boys and another in Srinagar. The board of trusteescomprises of Mr. Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Rather of Charoo and a few other reputed people.The visit was both a touching and learning experience for me. I wish all of us could somehow contribute more towards this noble cause.
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