Meet Adhik Kadam, Father To 200 Orphan Kashmiri Girls
- IWB Post
- December 16, 2016
In violence-ravaged Kashmir, Adhik Kadam is an oddity. Unlike most people in the valley or outside, he isn’t eager to take sides in the conflict dividing the valley and has never been judgmental.
For Kadam, home means the 200 orphan girls who live at the Borderless World Foundation (BWF), a shelter home that this 39-year-old from Maharashtra created in 2002.
He said, “I saw many people being killed during my stay. The biggest victims of a bloody conflict are kids growing up in the atmosphere.”
Situated at Kupwara, a place where skirmishes between the army and militants are a regular phenomenon, the home helps the girls grow up into independent women free of their troubled past. The girls are also provided education and vocational training in various disciplines.
It was during a visit to the valley in the late 90s that Kadam was left speechless after seeing the sorry state in which the children of militants lived after their parents have been killed in encounters with the army.
He felt that amidst the politics and violence surrounding the Kashmir conflict, no one was thinking about the children, especially girls who weren’t getting equal opportunities as boys.
When people asked him why ‘only girls,’ he would reply – “It is exponentially more difficult for girls growing up in a patriarchal society. There are people in Kashmir working for the betterment of boys, but nobody is willing to take on the responsibility of girls due to security concerns. I have washed their clothes, combed their hair. I am their friend, brother, teacher. When one of the girls got married, I thought I was her father.”
This thought propelled Kadam to come up with the idea of BWF, a place where the girls could feel like their home and instead of the past concentrate on the present and future.
Of course, there have been difficulties. Militants would often barge into the home on sudden inspections and have even kidnapped Kadam on numerous occasions. But it was the support of the local people that helped him return safely every time.
What more? Kadam also had to deal with fatwas, sometimes issued by influential separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani. But irrespective of the problems, BWF has been running unhindered educating and helping the girls to be self-sufficient.
At a time when we hear news about how violence has engulfed the picturesque valley, stories such as this have the power to make us believe that no matter what the situation is, as long as there’s one good person left, there is hope.
Last month (November 2016), Adhik visited California where he was felicitated for his work.
[This article was first published here.]