Meet Manan Chaturvedi – A Mother of 109 Children
- IWB Post
- August 21, 2014
Jaipur-based Manan Chaturvedi is mothering more than 110 children. Once a Fashion Designer, she calls it her destiny that showed her the ultimate humanitarian path.
On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day (August 19, 2014), we spoke to Ms. Manan, the Founder, and Head of ‘Surman Sansthan.’ It is an NGO that provides shelter to homeless kids and women. Read the excerpts below:
What’s the story behind Surman, your organization?
A few years ago, I happened to notice a 7-year-old girl lying naked next to a municipality dustbin. Looking at her, I was terrified, of course. I quickly wrapped her in my dupatta and brought her home. She had nowhere to go and therefore, my husband and I decided to keep her with us.
From that day till now, how big has your family become?
I have 110 children, including my son. Apart from this, 11 women, who have been abandoned by their families, live with me.
Talk about the support you get from your husband.
He is my biggest supporter. Had he never agreed to bring that girl home, Surman would have remained a dream. Today, all of us live under one roof.
Are your neighbors okay with the idea?
In the beginning, many of them opposed saying ‘street kids’ weren’t allowed in the society. Thankfully, today, my children are a part of the gatherings and get to play with neighborhood kids. I guess it is the compassion of these little ones that has melted everyone’s heart.
Do these kids go to school?
Yes! Some are good at academics, while the others are born artists. They paint and make handmade greeting cards which we sell under our organization’s name. All the funds go towards their welfare.
Are you able to meet the expenses?
I spend from my pocket and do not take government aid. We accept donations from people who’re willing to help because it is impossible to nurture these many lives solely on my husband’s salary. We even do theatrical plays with these little artists to raise funds.
Apart from the abandoned kids, you also give home to women in distress. What have these women gone through?
Some were thrown out of their homes after their husbands died while the others were rejected by their families because they gave birth to a girl child. Other reasons include domestic violence that forces them to leave everything and start a new life.
How many cases do you get on a monthly basis?
I cannot count.
Share one story that has a great impact on your life.
I was once met with a rare case of four sisters. Their mother had died and the father was a drunkard. They were thrown out of their home before I met them. One of them, on seeing the bangles, told me – “Maa bhi aisi hi chudiyaan pehenti thi.” (Our mother used to wear similar bangles). This brought tears to my eyes and I decided to never part from them.
You don’t allow adoption of your children, right?
These kids are my children once they come here. Until I manage to find their original parents or guardians who are willing to take them back, they stay at ‘Surman.’ I am not biased, but I believe they get all the love they need here. I invite all of you to become their mother under this one roof.
On a funny note, do you get to witness the ‘bathroom fights’ often?
*laughs* All the time. When we were less in number, we lived in our flat. As we grew, my husband and I decided to take two more flats in the same building. Each room has comfortable bunk beds with good sanitary facilities.
What has changed within you in all these years?
I am determined like never before.
What is next for Surman?
We have finally managed to buy a small piece of land where hundreds of kids will be happy to lead a happy life in future. Our home is now getting smaller for all of us. I’m excited about this project which is under construction at the moment.
Help Manan support these kids. If you find any child in distress, call her at 09828031708. More about the ‘Surman’ Sansthan here.