“Congratulations for the Social Worker of the Year Award! Please tell us, how do you manage it; along with your usual job?” Sameer asked, the tall and handsome Newsweek reporter with a gentle smile, while interviewing Ritweeka, the spectacled and dainty middle aged woman. “How are you filled with so much of love and compassion for these children?”
Ritweeka, the founder of JOY, was a known name in Rohini, the residential city in West Delhi. JOY was the child care home she was running.
“Sometimes there is no happy choice, Sameer, only one less grievous than the others,” she replied while tears rolled down her eyes.
“I lived in this flat, with the world’s most loving husband and two adorable children. About seven years ago, when we were going to a countryside resort, to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary, our car crashed, ending up into a ditch.
All three of them died on the spot leaving me haywire. I didn’t know whom to mourn for. I had lost everything in a few seconds. For months, I lived like a dead woman. Until one day, when I saw a young girl, sobbing under a lamp post, on my way, back home. I patted her and understood that the homeless child had just lost her widowed mother. I asked her name.
khushi was her reply and I felt the rug swept from under my feet. That was my daughter’s name and she was almost her age. The mother in me immediately hugged her.
I took her home, fed her well and gave her my daughter’s clothes. I felt, as if I was showering my love on my own daughter. That was the night; I slept peacefully, after months.”
“And so you converted your flat into this child care home?” Sameer questioned further.
“Not suddenly, but yes gradually; as and when we found a child in need. We have recently been donated the adjacent flat by the owner. JOY has 33 children now. The latest is just two months old who was rescued from a dump yard. Even our help is a loner, who was tortured and thrown out by her husband,” Ritweeka replied.
“And how do you manage your funds?” Sameer asked.
“Initially I thought, my salary would be enough to sustain my children but as the number of children increased, it appeared difficult. But believe me, people in this and nearby societies are so kind and philanthropic that I am not worried anymore.
Almost all our breakfast, lunch and dinner are booked for next three months. Most of the children have secured scholarships either through merit in academics, sports or co-curricular activities. College students are spending their spare time in training my children.
People want to celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries with these children; they donate clothes, books, notebooks and other usable items; some donate cash too; my provident fund and now the money from this award will also go to JOY- My Family.”
The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00-6 entry.
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Photo by Devaiah Mallangada Kalaiah