Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) will begin process of rehabilitation of children who have lost their parents to Covid-19 from next month.
Ranjeet, 12, is one of them. He has lost both his parents to the disease. A resident of Nanda Nagar slum 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 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 make arrangements for rehabilitation of all three children. To begin with, they will start getting Rs 2,000 per month as sustenance allowance from June 2021.
“There must be many more children like these. We are in the process of gathering data on them,” said Brajesh Chauhan, MPCPCR member.
The Commission is using machinery of Woman and Child Development Department to collect information of children (under 18 years of age) who have lost both or one parent due to Covid-19. The Department has a presence at the grassroots level through Aaganwadi workers.
Once the details are in, the Commission would 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 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 grabs it. “There are cases when relatives keep orphaned children just to grab their property or deposits,” says Chauhan. The Commission will write to banks to ensure that the money in the accounts of deceased parents is transferred in the name of the children.
About 5,000 Covid-related deaths have been reported from the state. “The number of children orphaned by the disease must be quite substantial. Even if we are able to rehabilitate 100 such children, we would have achieved our objective,” he says.
A few NGOs have decided to rehabilitate such children. Few days back, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi had tweeted, 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 said.
The organisation runs two shelter homes. Orphaned children can be admitted to the institutions with the permission of the district Child Welfare Committees. “We will send them to schools. We will try to fulfill all their needs,” she says.
Besides, SOS Children’s Villages India has announced that it is ready to provide short or long-term care to vulnerable children whose safety, security, and wellbeing have been severely affected because of losing parental care due to pandemic.
Shekhar Malakar, Assistant Director, SOS Children’s Village, Khajuri Kalan, Bhopal, said 21 children whose parents had died due to Covid-19 last year were given shelter. “Later, 18 of them were taken away by their relatives. Three are still with us,” he said.
Malakar said they would be playing the same role in the second wave. “We will take care of orphans of pandemic,” he said. Orphaned children will be presented before the district child welfare committee, which assigns them to shelter homes or orphanages.