Have we ever considered what happens to the children who lose their parents and have nowhere to go? If they are fortunate, they end up in an orphanage. But what becomes of those young orphans when they move out of those orphanages? Destitute, vulnerable and lacking basic skills for employability, they move into a world where every human being seems like a stranger it is here that the struggle of survival engulfs them into its depths. Their plethora of pressing concerns passes the societal ears almost unheeded and their longing for a safer space to thrive always exists.
‘Make a Space’ is one organization that has taken cognizance of the issue, and is working towards upliftment of orphan children and youngsters. Founded by Mr. Rupesh Srivastav, a law graduate based in UP, the organisation provides basic skill development training to orphan teenagers and youths, making them capable of subsistence after they venture out of orphanages. It all began when Rupesh was pursuing his Masters in Social Entrepreneurship from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Among the many seminars and conferences attended by him while at the institute, there was one that stood out- a presentation entirely prepared and presented by orphan youths. It was then that he decided to make a difference in the lives of this deprived class. Having a legal background and inclination towards social welfare services, he started visiting and collaborating with various orphanages and NGOs in different cities.
Usually after attaining eighteen years of age, orphan boys and girls are either out on their own, or are taken to After Care Homes set up by the government, where they are only provided shelter; their education stops and they have to earn their own bread.The social disconnect, a lack of information, meager financial help and an identity crisis are just a few of the tumults faced by them, and because staying in an orphanage they get very little exposure of the outside world. ‘Make a Space’ is instrumental in filling these gaps and providing orphan youths the training of some basic set of skills which are essential in getting them decent employment. In the pilot program initiated by them, orphans of 15-18 years were taught product-based skills, like soft-toy making and service-based skills like using basic computer software etc., so that when they move out at 18, they are not completely unskilled. The organisation has also spread awareness on the issue of substance abuse, conducting educative seminars that encourage youngsters to save money for higher studies rather than giving in to abuse and addiction. Increasing awareness of mandatorily required legal documentation like Aadhar card, Caste certificate, etc., various programs on financial and legal literacy have also been run by the organisation for the youth living in shelter homes and after care homes. Until Now they have trained about 120 orphan children and are connected with five orphanages in Lucknow and three in Mumbai, while their awareness programs have reached about a thousand children.
According to them, change in government policy and public awareness is the need of the hour. All that is required is an attitudinal upheaval towards this estranged lot of our societal pyramid, to enlarge our vision and aid in their appropriate channelization. They too deserve education, social benefits, security and the right to have respectable careers. Let’s spread the flame ignited by ‘Make a Space’, let’s do our bit.
Story by : Aparna Shastri
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