Sikh Union Charity Mission 2015: Orphanage Project

Asha Sadan and Mary Bhavan Orphanages are the latest addition to the international Sikh Union charity projects. In March 2015 Sikh Union volunteers along with their partners at Northampton Punjabi Association, will be travelling to Agra and Delhi in India from their own expenses to visit the orphanages. Punjab2000’s Amrit Matharu will be assisting the mission this month.

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The girls who are cared for at the orphanages have suffered various forms of trauma. Many of girls are from poor family backgrounds in the surrounding villages of Delhi and Etah near Agra. In most cases if they were not taken in by the nuns and given food and schooling, they would be on the streets faced with neglection, crime and in worst cases, prostitution.

Both orphanages solely rely on funds and donations to function on a daily basis and provide abandoned, neglected girls with a safe roof over their head. The orphanages are run by Catholic nuns purely on a voluntary basis. The girls clean, wash and maintain their living environment themselves without any external support.

The first of the orphanages is Asha Sadan, which is based in New Delhi. The orphanage currently accommodates 25 girls ranging from the ages of 3 to 16-years-old. It is run by eight volunteer nuns.

Sikh Union have worked to restore hygiene, sanitation and sleeping conditions such as the installation of gas pipes and a cooker in order for their food to be cooked efficiently. Previous to this the girls at food that was cooked on a poorly fuelled “choola” as it is traditionally known and had been sleeping on hard wooden beds with no mattress.

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Mary Bhavan Orphanage in Etah near Agra is the sister orphanage to Asha Sada. This orphanage currently cares for 72 girls and is in desperate need of provision for basic human rights and structural work. The bathroom and toilets have damp and damaged walls, no cubicles on doors, broken sinks and poor lighting. The orphanage grows what produce it can but there is not enough vegetation for them to live off on a continuous basis. During Sikh Union’s visit in October 2013 we were able to provide two to three months of basic food supply, bought rugs for the floor and ordered tables and chair for dining.

The girls eat and pray on the cold floor whilst there is no gas supply and a lack of firewood for cooking chapattis and food on the “choola”. The nuns sew sanitary towels for the girls as any money goes toward trying to provide nutrition. Basic food supply, rugs, tables and chairs were provided in 2013.

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Sikh Union’s future visits hope to introduce the second phase in Etah, to improve their sanitation and help supply regular fruit, vegetables and milk which is vital for the running of the orphanage.

Their long term aims for both orphanages are to organise counselling for both carers and the girls and provide further education and skills for employment post-orphanage life. We aim to promote self-sufficiency and empowerment for both of the establishments for the girls.

“We believe every female across the world has the right to feel safe, have an education and aspire to a brighter future.” – Sikh Union.