A Remarkably Unique Home for Girls
Founder of Sikhs Online, Mann Matharu recently travelled to Punjab in India where he had the privilege of meeting one of the most inspirational women of modern times. Her name is Bibi Prakash Kaur and her home truly is unique.
Unique Home for Girls is an orphanage for unwanted and unclaimed girls in Punjab, India. The home was founded on the 17th of May 1993 by Bibi Prakash Kaur who works tirelessly to give these young girls the basic required daily amenities for good living as well as a quality education in a warm and loving environment.
Prakash Kaur, herself, was left and abandoned on the streets as a toddler around 60 years ago. Since 1993, she has devoted her whole life to the tasking mission of rescuing abandoned and unwanted newborn girls and providing them with a place they can call home and a secured future. Today, the home houses 65 young girls that call Prakash Kaur “mother.”
Thеу аrе аll mу оwn сhіldrеn,” ѕhе ѕауѕ. “Wе аlwауѕ еnѕurе thеу nеvеr fееl lіkе аbаndоnеd сhіldrеn.”
The hearts in Unique Home are large. The place is like a huge family where the older girls take care of the younger ones to ensure that these innocent girls grow up with a sense of belonging.
Unique Home for Girls aims to raise these girls as healthy individuals and equip them with all the social skills and educational qualifications they need to face life challenges on their own terms. Through Unique Home, Prakash Kaur has touched many innocent lives that have been cruelly forsaken by their own people.
Majority of the girls arrive at the Unique Home as hapless and hopeless foundlings, some barely alive. They have no memories of how they were brought there, but those that have lived and grown up in the life-affirming warmth of this unique home are glad and proud they belong there.
At the Unique Home, girls have found shelter and under Bibi Prakash Kaur’s tutelage and now enjoy the real family experience that their pitiless biological parents deprived them of just because of their gender. Again under her care, these girls are supported to become individuals willing and able to take their rightful place in a society that still appears to have a strong aversion for the girl-child. The girls are between ages 4 days and 19 years.
The first amazing thing with the Unique Home is that there is a small hatched box, called the “cradle,” situated near the entrance of the home. Most of the time, the unwanted baby-girls are left in that cradle. Although this is sad to hear and read at first, it’s also reassuring as the alternative is mental and physical abuse, total abandonment and in many cases killed.
India is home to 31 million orphaned children, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The UN defines “orphan” as a child who has lost either one or both parents. But, many children without parental care have been abandoned by a living parent or parents.
Last year, the Times of India reported that nine-in-ten of the 11 million abandoned children in India were girls. Most were doomed to never find homes, as little over 2,500 were adopted in 2009.
Girls are more likely to be abandoned, sex-selectively aborted or killed in stances of infanticide than are boys. This is rooted in a cultural bias against girls, whose dowries are costly, for one. The consequences of having an unusual number of “missing girls” is a skewed sex ratio. There are now only 914 females for every 1,000 males in India.
Upon the arrival of every new girl-child and addition of a new “family member,” the entire house is joyous at the latest addition. As faith has no restrictions at the Unique Home, the girls are normally given Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian names.
Many of the girls go on to attend schools offering quality education and few have since been in matrimony with their spouses from suitable homes. But Prakash Kaur’s work does not end there. She continues to support them in their lives as to ensure that they are well taken care of. She offers help and support and continues to fight for their rights. Many of these women return to the home at some point in their lives to provide further care for the next generation of girls at the Unique Home.
To date, Unique Home has organised the holy matrimony of 17 of the Unique Home girls. A couple of these girls graduated from college before they eventually got married, the others tied the knot after graduating from high school. However, several of the older girls here have chosen not to get married and instead devote themselves to the service of the Unique Home, just like their mentor, Prakash Kaur.
The date April 24th is a very special day at the Unique Home. It is the day when the girls collectively celebrate their birthday. The girls all celebrate their birthdays on this day, every year. A gigantic 100kg cake is cut and the day is marked with much fun and merriment. Also, during the summer break, the Unique Home girls go on a summer trip to the beautiful town of Darjeeling.
We want to make April 24 a date that everyone remembers, every child is God’s gift to the World, boy or girl. They both have an equal right to live and prosper.”
The most important part of this wonderful home is that the girls are aware of the fact that their biological parents have abandoned and forsaken them just because they are obsessed with the male child. This mentality is as a result of several cultural and economic reasons, where the girl-child is usually thought of as consumers (potential conflict over property division and discontinuation of family line are top issues) and the male-child is regarded as the preferred sex. This has consequently led to female foeticide and infanticide is often the chosen path for women who feel they have no alternative.
The Unique Home and Pradash Kaur has enlightened the girls about this poisonous truth and this has only strengthened their resolution to prove themselves to the society, which has rejected them. Bibi Prakash Kaur says:
Gіrlѕ аrе rеаllу рrесіоuѕ, wеlсоmе thеm. Thеу аrе Gоddеѕѕ Lаxmі, соmіng іntо уоur hоuѕе, wеlсоmе thеm wіth ореn аrmѕ. Thеу аrе gоіng tо mаkе a dіffеrеnсе іn уоur lіfе. A dаughtеr іѕ a dаughtеr thrоughоut hеr lіfе.”
During my visit and meeting with Bibi Prakash Kaur, we sat and discussed many aspects of her work and one thing sticks out from our conversation. She said;
Guru Gobind Singh Ji (The 10th Guru in Sikhism), empowered women (Mai Bago) to take up arms and fight alongside men and lead armies against Moghul oppression well over 400 years ago, how we have let society turn from that to what is happening now is beyond comprehension.”
A Unique Home in the making
Currently, Unique Home is located in an old home which has been renovated to accommodate the children and staff members.
I had the honour of being shown around the new home, which is a brand new build and is in the final stages of renovation, with an aim of opening in late 2017. The new home will immediately accommodate at least 100 girls and consists of larger bedrooms with en-suite facilities, sitting and play areas as well as a brand new library and a kitchen. The grounds are beautifully designed with finely cut grass, plants and small forestry designed to reduce any noise pollution from passing traffic and with a main office at the entrance.
How you can help
Donate to SikhsOnline via JustGiving – 100% of donations will go to the Home and receipts of donations will be published.
Founder of Sikhs Online, Mann Matharu will be travelling to Punjab where he will help and support the Home with their needs during his stay. He will be travelling atleast once a year (sooner if funds are raised quicker) and can take your donations directly. He aims to raise between £2,500 – £5,000 before each visit.
FundRaise for UK Friends of Unique Home
UK Friends of Unique Home is a registered charity which aims to support the efforts of Unique Home in Punjab, India.
You can support them directly by:
Sikhs Online are proud to be friends with Unique Home and founder Mann Matharu will be working closely with both Unique Home in Punjab and UK Friends of Unique Home.
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