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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Getting by with a little help from friends

A “home” fronting a small pond in Aamtala’s Bakkhali Zulfia has come as a haven for 14 “Angel Children” who are cared for by their foster parents, Krishnachandra Nashkar and wife, who love them no less than they do their own two daughters. To visitors, the place may seem as nondescript as everything else the lush but largely insignificant surrounds, but it spells “life” for these children who play barefoot, study and take care of their youngest sister who is just about a month old. And when night falls and dinner is done, they all cuddle up on a huge bed, discussing the day until sleep comes calling.


Home is a tiny concrete structure with a tin roof for these Nashkars. They’re not here because they’re orphans, but most can’t be “afforded” by their parents and have been abandoned or have found their way here from the more remote stretches.

Running a family of these proportions always involves a funds crunch but Parash, a non-governmental organisation, has been doing all it possibly can to keep them alive and happy for the past one year. Initiated and conceptualised online by some Facebook friends, it strives to leave no stone unturned to reach out to poor and orphan children, the physically handicapped and mentally disabled and, of course, the helpless elderly.

The lack of infrastructure is obviously a very challenging socio-economic condition and the village where these kids live is almost a two-an-half-hour journey from Hazra More in South Kolkata, where this family arrived at to receive a new set of clothes, stationery, food, medicines and toys. Since “home’ is flood infested, cultivation is almost impossible and there is hardly any transportation save for a direct state bus that comes every one hour or so. Of course, autos are more frequent but they charge a bomb for each ride and should it be raining drivers refuse to venture into the interiors.

There is no electricity if there’s thunder and then there are the mosquitoes that will sing you to sleep (if you’re a native) or keep you awake, and uncomfortably so.

Money apart, Parash has, along with other organizations, been helping to make live bearable, supplying portable hand pumps, a house to live in, food and so on. But in spite of all the difficulties, the Nashkars are still humble and simple people. The children don’t forget to fold their hands and thank Jesus (most are converted Christians) before a meal. “I have left it to him to help me carry forward this journey. I have 16 kids and a wife to take care of and I am grateful that organisations like Parash are coming forward with aid,” says Nashkar.

Soft-spoken and extremely hardworking, he prefers to keep a low profile. When gifted with new clothes, the family wait to be together in privacy before opening their packets and check out the contents. Always amiable and smiling, they are Nashkar’s biggest strength, always ready to help whatever they can. There are cartoonists, painters, dancers and even singers amongst these kids and, who knows, there could be another Jamini Roy or Uday Shankar in the making. 

And they could do with all the help they can get because at the moment just three administrators and about 30 members are not enough to generate enough help for the Nashkars and many similar families. Sometimes it’s best to disregard what you read and, instead, check things out for yourself.

You could contact Parash members Gautam Bhattacharjee at +919830171257 or Suvendu Sen Sharma at +9199830302175 for details of any sorts. It would be worth a lot more that the phone call.

Source : The Statesman , 1st Nov 2015

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