Thursday, July 16, 2009


A recent visitor to Karunya Mane asked us, aside from fundraising, what our biggest challenge is. Often, the answer is, sadly, the parents.

Many of our kids have at least one parent, a few have both parents, and several no longer have parents. The parents are unable to properly care for their kids, being destitute themselves, are often single moms, or are moms with a deadbeat husband who drinks whatever earnings they have.

Most of our kids have endured abuse, either physical or emotional, at the hand of a mom or a dad. This happens not necessarily because the parent doesn't care or wants to abuse a child, but because the parent was abused by his or her own parent, and knows no other way.

Little Nanjunda's story is heartbreaking and, at the same time, filled with hope.

Little Nanjunda, now eight years old, lived on the streets of Mysore for most of his short life with his mom and grannie. His dad left his mom years ago, and his mom begs on the streets to earn money for their food. She used to abuse Nanjunda quite badly at times, hitting him and often throwing him on the ground then stomping on him, and speaking to him very roughly. Grannie helped take care of Nanjunda, and she often fed and bathed him.

Nanjunda's mom did not stay in one place for very long. Instead, she went back and forth between the streets and her boyfriend's home in a village about an hour away. When she and her boyfriend argued (usually resulting in her being injured by him), she and Nanjunda returned to the street. A week or so later, Nanjunda would find himself back in the village when his mom and her boyfriend made up.

Last year, grannie wanted Nanjunda to live at Karunya Mane, so that he could start school and have a nice living environment. He was already seven years old and, given his mom's unstable lifestyle, had not yet started school. In May 2008, Nanjunda came to live at Karunya Mane, and both mom and grannie were satisfied and visited him once a month on Sundays. Nanjunda loved school and his after-school tuition sessions, and often talked about learning English so he could fly on an airplane to America.

little Nanjunda (center) with Pallavi (right) and Apu (left) in 2007

Then, mom's boyfriend, who has an uncontrollable temper when drunk, started demanding that the boy be released and returned back to his mother and their shack in the village. They arrived at Karunya Mane one day, jumped the gate, and stole the boy away.

Nanjunda stayed in the village for the next few months, missing the rest of his school year. Then again this May, we found mom and Nanjunda back on the street -- it seems that they were kicked out of the village. After a few weeks, mom asked us to take Nanjunda back at Karunya Mane, as he desperately wanted to live there again and continue school with all of his friends.

After reporting our process to the local police (as a way to discourage mom from causing trouble in the future), little Nanjunda returned to Karunya Mane, and is now back in school.

We are well aware that mom may reconcile with her boyfriend again in the future, come to Karunya Mane and cause a scene again to get her son back. We'll do what we can to keep the boy with us, as his safety and future are most important.