Reaching out to the Pardhi Wasti Community (2010)
Even in comparison to some of the family’s more disadvantaged groups, the Pardhi people represent a particularly depressed case. Residing at nearly the bottom of India’s social hierarchy, the Pardhi people are a migratory group whose traditional livelihood is based on acts the rest of the caste system consider unclean: hunting, handling of meat, robbery or even assassination. Since these people have neither education nor any skill, many Paradhis are forced to work as day laborers or prostitutes for very little money.
In the Shirur community, there is no water, no electricity, no education, no personal hygienne practices nor basic knowledge of health or nutrition. Households here commonly contain between seven to twelve children each. During the day, it is a normal occurrence to find toddlers covered in dust and flies, wandering the streets with the animals while their parents are working elsewhere.
Before Maher could even take action to teach the children anything, they had to be cleaned, clothed and fed. As a result of poor hygiene and the lack of cleanliness, many of the children were weak, malnourished and suffering from a broad variety of diseases. Medical professionals had been brought and now we teach the children how to maintain their personal hygiene in order to prevent these sorts of problems in the future.
While Gamat Shala will focus on younger children, ages one to seven, Maher hopes to reach other groups in the community, first the children from eight to twelve, than adolescents and finally the adults, creating a comprehensive community program which will reach out to all of the society’s levels.
A man called Mr. Khabiya heard about Mahers social work and asked Sister Lucy if she could use his house in Shirur to accommodate more children.There was a small temple attached to the house. Since Mr Khabiya was a devout Hindu and vegetarian, Sister Lucy wondered how it would work to have Maher children in his house, especially with the Marvadi temple attached.
However, when she and some other Maher staff visited the site they liked the place and made an agreement with Mr.Khabia to make use of the property for ten years. As usual there were teething problems and people were rather sceptical about how successfully Maher would manage the accommodation and the temple building. Through the grace of God and the hard work of the staff Maher managed to win the respect of the local people and the Sumatilal Maniklal Khabia Children’s Home was inaugurated on July 4, 2004.
At present there are thirty seven children living at Khabia Balsadan, looked after by three housemothers and a social worker. The children and staff are all taking good care of the temple.
Sneha Sadan, Shirur 2016
You will find a friendly welcome at Sneha Sadan our newly built home for boys in Shirur opened in November 2015 this house replaces the existing structure that was there and is a Maher owned house. The boys attend local school and are involved in a number of extracurricular activities, such as street dancing and taekwondo. The boys are able to enjoy local facilities and are supported by a house mother and social worker.
Maher’s work at Shirur includes:
Work in the slums
Balwadi and Day Care center
Support and education for the begging community
Rally and awareness programs
Self help groups