Representational pic
Representational pic

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) is going to start next month the process of rehabilitation of children who have lost their parents to Covid-19.

Ranjeet, 12, is one of them. He has lost both his parents to the disease. A resident of the Nanda Nagar slum cluster in Indore, Ranjeet’s father used to sell ‘pani puri’ on a handcart. The boy, who is hearing-impaired, is currently living with his father’s sister.

In another similar case, both the parents of Ruhi Barwe, 6, and Mahi Barwe, 7, died due to Covid. Mohanlal, their father, worked for Vindhya Herbal Products.

The MPCPCR will be making arrangements for the rehabilitation of all three children. To begin with, from June, they will start getting Rs 2,000 per month as sustenance allowance. “There must be many more children such as these. We’re in the process of gathering data on them,” says Brajesh Chauhan, member, MPCPCR.

The commission is using the machinery of the women and child development department to collect information on children (under 18 years of age) who have lost both parents or one of them due to Covid-19. The department has a presence at the grassroots level through Aanganwadi workers.

Once the details are in, the commission will either take the responsibility for their complete rehabilitation (in cases where there is no one to look after the child), or arrange for a monthly sustenance allowance of Rs 2,000, free education in government schools and free medical care (in cases where the child is being looked after by his relatives).

The commission will also try to ensure that, if the parents of such children had deposits in banks or owned some property, no one else is allowed to grab it. “There are cases where relatives keep orphaned children just to grab their property or deposits,” says Chauhan. The commission will also write to the banks to take care that the money in the accounts of deceased parents is transferred in the name of the children.

Chauhan says that, till date, around 5,000 Covid-related deaths have been reported in the state. “The number of children orphaned by the disease must be quite high. Even if we’re able to rehabilitate 100 such children, we’ll have achieved our objective,” he says.

Besides the commission, a few NGOs, too, have decided to rehabilitate such children. A couple of days ago, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi had posted a tweet, seeking information on Covid orphans on Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s helpline number 1800. After the tweet, information about 300 such children was received. “In many cases, the children were starving and needed food. We also received information that some pregnant women had nothing to eat,” a member of the organisation says.

She says the organisation runs two shelter homes. Orphaned children can be admitted to these institutions with the permission of the district Child Welfare Committees. “We’ll send them to schools. We’ll try to fulfil all their needs,” she says.

SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages, India, has also announced that it is ready to provide short, or long-term, care to vulnerable children across the country whose safety, security and well-being have been severely affected because of losing parental care due to the pandemic and have no caregivers left to provide for them.

‘Taking a leaf out of 2020’

“Last year, 21 children whose parents had died due to Covid-19, were given shelter by their institution. Later, 18 of them were taken away by their relatives. Three were left and they’re still with us. We’ll be playing the same role in the second wave. We’ll take care of the orphans of the pandemic. Orphaned children have to be presented before the district Child Welfare Committee, which assigns them to shelter homes or orphanages,” said Shekhar Malakar, assistant director, SOS Children’s Village, Khajuri Kalan, Bhopal.

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