The Optimist Citizen

A Retired Bank Employee who transformed the lives of hundreds of children of Prison Inmates


Whenever we think about crimes, justice and judgement, the first image that conjures up in our mind is the image of a notorious criminal behind bars. The visual confirms our contentment for the judgment that has been served to this heinous stratum of our society. But we forget, that behind every bolted bar, there is a broken family, a lost childhood and a dilapidated livelihood. V. Mani, an employee with The Reserve Bank of India Bangalore office, used to see children on his way to work loitering around the Central jail compound every day. After some research, he found out that these were the kids of the inmates and there were hundreds of others like them living in a pitiable state in slums and villages, often diseased by poverty and deprived of education.

What followed changed the lives of hundreds for years to come. In the year 1999, after his retirement, V.Mani accumulated all his savings and along with his wife Saroji Mani started the Society’s care for indigent (SOCARE), to give children of inmates who are serving time in various prisons of Karnataka, opportunities for a better life. Over the course of the years, the society has touched the lives of hundreds of children but the journey has not been easy. “We always witness a lot of scepticism on the part of the child’s parents and his family”, says Mr. M.M. Rao, Vice president of SOCARE. Also, the children come from backgrounds that are usually detached from the spectrum of a regular life. Facing difficulty in everything they encounter, the first task of the society is to make them feel at home. Once they achieve this, it is then that the true work of the organization starts. The education, food, accommodation and well-being is taken care by the society in their hostels. “The children are enrolled in the best schools and colleges of Bengaluru, trained in vocational and creative skills and are given the best possible opportunities available”, says M.M. Rao.

The society which started in the home of its founder with just 2 children now accommodates 172 children in its 3 hostels in Bengaluru. But it is not just the numbers, but the story of every child that tells the true tale of SOCARE’s success. A boy who came in at the age of 10 initially faced disruptions from his grandparents about coming there. But the boy eventually came there and grew up to become a software engineer. Another example which stretches the boundary of their impact is that of a child whose father was a big disruptor in his prison. But when he came to know that his child can now speak flawless English, his behaviour changed drastically. The stories are infinite. The children with the society have grown up to become Lawyers, Engineers and Artists. For those who are not inclined towards studies, the society also arranges for vocational skill training. SOCARE is currently being overseen by 6 core members and receives private donations from different organizations for its operations.

Recently, they received financial support from Sri Sri Mahaswamiji of Sringeri Sharada Peetam who has been a constant supporter since many years. “Our founder, Mr. V.Mani, passed away a few years back, but his ideals still prosper and will always guide us and the organization. It is from his work that we will continue helping many more children in the years to come”, says Mr. Rao The impact of Society’s care for Indigent has multiplied manifold, but essentially, it has and it will always be the living evidence of the struggle of one bank employee who took it upon himself to change the lives of these children and will keep on touching hundreds of lost souls in years to come.


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