Manan Chaturvedi of Jaipur revolutionises the orphanage-home concept in India
She has not given birth to all of them, but she is a proud mother of 98 children. The youngest one in the family is just 14 days and the eldest is 17-year old. The ‘family’ is still expanding. Forty-year old Manan Chaturvedi of ‘Surman Sansthan’, Jaipur, is giving a new life to the infants whom their own parents abandoned due to various reasons. A fashion designer by training, she has also given new a dimension to the orphanage-home concept in the country. Contrary to other voluntary organisations, which mostly flourish on government help, she never takes any monitory help from the government, nor gives any child in adoption to others. Every child in this ‘family’ is ‘her own child’.
In the public eye, ‘Surman Sansthan’ is like any other orphanage home in Jaipur. But for Manan Chaturvedi, it is ‘her family’ of 98 children, perhaps the largest family in Jaipur, where everyone is connected in the natural bond of love, affection, care and equal opportunities. Though, the mothers of these children abandoned them due to unknown reasons, but here it is very difficult to distinguish whether they are the real children of Manan Chaturvedi or have been picked up from any dustbin, roadside, hospital, etc.
A trained fashion designer, Manan had refused the offer of a lucrative job in the US for these destitute children. She is stick to two things in the family—not to take any aid from government, and not to allow adoption of any of her children by someone else. The logic she gives behind it is “can anyone take government help to run his own family or can any mother allow adoption of her own child by someone else”? For day-to-day needs of these children she arranges fund by selling greeting cards, handicraft items, paintings, organising stage shows, making short films, etc. Beside that some sympathisers also extend help.
Now Manan is busy in establishing an exclusive Surman Gram at Seekar Road in Jaipur, where arrangements will be made for the accommodation of at least 2,500 destitute children. It will be a village, where not only such children but also the destitute women and old people can live a respectful life. While generating fund for it, she has created a world record by doing painting in Jaipur continuously for 72 hours. She has also done paintings for 24 hours without break in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jodhpur, Mount Abu, etc.
A turning point came in the life of Manan when she saw an 11 year old girl completely without clothes searching eatables in the garbage. Moved at her plight she started visiting slums and distributing biscuit packets. It was in those days that she found an infant, Gauri, struggling with death, as her haemoglobin level was just 3mg. But the treatment by doctors and Manan’s prayers cured her completely. Today, she studies in a school.
Due to the increase in number of destitute children in the Sansthan, Manan hired a small flat and this is how her project Palna began by giving shelter to one destitute woman along with her two children, and 17 destitute children. One among such children is Shakti. The hospital administration said that her mother was mentally retarded and she even did not know whether she has delivered a baby. She used to live on the streets and she was not able to even tell who made her pregnant? Since it was difficult for her to look after the child after birth, the child was handed over to Manan. Every child in the Surman family has a moving story. But Manan never hides any fact from these children. She tells them clearly from where and in what conditions they were picked by her. “It makes them strong and capable to face all challenges of life on their own,” says Manan.
“Whenever I look at the society and see many orphan and destitute kids with whom people show sympathy but very few dare to come out with the courage to provide them food, shelter, education and medical facilities, I am reminded of flowers of bougain villaea (Bougainvillea glabra), planted near boundary wall as a fence, no one plants them in their drawing room. In Palna we are committed to rehabilitate every child who has been labelled as an orphan and destitute,” she adds.
Apart from providing shelter to orphans, Manan has also started Koshish for providing shelter and employment to destitute women and Phulwari for arranging single teacher school for slum children, and to celebrate festivals in an adopted slum ‘Jotwara’ in Jaipur. Under Jeevan project the kids from deprived families are provided medical aid. Till now 27 kids have successfully been cured under this project. Another admirable step by Manan is the resettlement of 21 women who had left their in-laws house due to various reasons.
All these efforts of Manan are setting new milesontes in rehabilitation of orphan children and destitute women.