More than three decades ago, one hot summer day in 1991, Sandhya found two year old Rani on the side of the road, half dead from starvation. This led her to creating a home for Rani and many more like her. Aarti is a true home for girls who do not have a safe place to call home. The 122 girls living here are either orphaned or unable to find a safe environment from domestic abuse. The girls live in a sustainable green campus called Aarti Village. Each girl lives with nine/ten other girls in a cottage that she calls home, with a house mother to create a loving family unit. Most of the girls are often abused and find safety, comfort, love and learn to dream of a better tomorrow.
Over the years, our children have found happiness in all facets of their life - as nurses, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, chefs, teachers and mothers. Aarti Home is a ‘Home’ that the girls can come to irrespective of how old they are. Our girls consider it their own home even after they have spread their wings, and it is not uncommon to find them at Aarti celebrating Diwali or birth of their child.
The girls have developed strong familial bonds as they live together under the same roof in Aarti Village. There is a feeling of unity and togetherness that pervades throughout the village. The sense of ownership and belonging that the girls carry with them even after leaving for further education and other pursuits is unmistakable.
Family Based Care
Child care and protection with love of their parents
As we saw our girls build and grow their dreams, we saw many children who were neglected at home and forced into early marriages, prostitution and child labour. We were seeing boys and girls as young as 8 being abused or forced into sexwork. This led us to find a way to reach children who have parents but lose their childhood due to poverty. Family based care was formed in 2018, where Aarti Home cares for the children with support for education, nutrition and basic necessities. Our social workers visit the children every month at their homes. They help build the children's dreams, create scaffolding through monetary and physical support so that the children can enjoy the safety of a home and have a childhood with the love of her mother, hugs of her siblings.
Steps towards being able to take the children out of the cycle of hunger, abuse and addiction:
Step 1: Our volunteers and social workers identify at-risk children from slums by our social workers and volunteers.
Step 2: Our social workers conduct a thorough investigation and assess the home environment for safety
Step 3: Parents are encouraged to involve themselves in the safety and future of their children by enrolling their child in formal education with bridge schooling, and We build dreams for the mother
Step 4: The child is enrolled in the school and provided food, clothing, medical and psychological care and education, and transportation to and from the school.
Step 5: Monthly visits by our teachers to the child’s home to check on the well being of the child and family.
Anshula would come to Aarti school without brushing her teeth, bathing or wearing basic inner-wear. She was diffident as she was teased by her classmates. At Aarti, she learnt to brush her teeth, clean herself, maintain basic hygiene, dress neatly and develop clean eating habits. Our teachers and housekeeping staff lovingly spent time with her. Our counsellors visited her home and updated her parents about her progress. It was six months before she gained confidence as she learned to maintain the basic hygiene and cleanliness. She has truly blossomed and is more engaged in school. Many of her markers like haemoglobin levels and skin condition have shown a definite improvement and she is excited to be promoted to the next class.
Babur was a happy child till COVID 19 took away his father during the second wave. He was thrown out of his family home with his mother and forced to work as a child labourer. Aarti volunteers spoke with his mother, provided her with the means of a sustainable livelihood and gave him a scholarship to continue his studies.
The values that the girls have imbibed at Aarti have been lauded by people they have come in contact with, or are working with,
The Program Director for SAATHIYA Mr.Mohit Saxena appreciating our children says-“we find that your students are more disciplined, sincere and have a better value system compared to students from other NGOs. This is not an easy thing to deliver and speaks a lot about your care, your culture and your sincere efforts. We would like to acknowledge and appreciate the same”.
Sivajyoti - a proud chef
Sivajyothi came to Aarti at the age of 6. She has completed her 12th standard, securing 90% marks. During the pandemic she was trained in the Aarti Community College where she became familiar with computers during the vocational course. She feels that guidance received has helped change her way of thinking and she has decided to do something new in her life. She is now pursuing training in Hotel management and is interning at one of the reputed hotels in Bangalore.
Harshita - a dreamer
A smiling 3 month old was dropped at our doorstep 19 years ago. We fell in love with her and named her Harshita - the smiling one. Harshita grew up as a happy child, spreading joy as she learnt her tables, fell in love with gardening and became an older sister for little children both in her cottage and others. Today Harshita is a second year college student aspiring to be an engineer.
Children through the portals of Aarti
Girls at Aarti Village 2022 - 2023
Family Based Care
Girls rescued from Abuse
Children rescued from Child Labour
Children reached through awareness
Aarti Home is not an institution but a living HOME where children can be just themselves. They live in different blocks of a two-story house where they eat, learn, play and sleep. Their ages range from 6 to 22 years of age. They are cared for 24/7 by full time staff in the Home, who live with them. Every morning, the children practise yoga in the garden guided by a yoga master. They play and study in the evenings after school. On weekends, they like to watch movies, read, or play games. We care for our children until they are independent and settled. We provide emotional support to them throughout their lives. The relationships they form at Aarti Home with their sisters, we hope, will last them for a lifetime.
Being there always for our children
One of the first children to join Aarti Home, Bharati was married in 2005 to a teacher. She lives with her husband’s family in Kerala and is actively involved in their family business. Aarti Home will always be her maternal home for Bharati where she gets emotional and maternal support from. She is always welcome and all the children look forward to seeing their akka (elder sister).
Bonding with each child
We form individual bonds with all the children who form an important part of our big family. Each child has a unique personality and is treated according to the individual needs. We firmly believe that this approach will help erase memories of their painful past and instil a deeper sense of security. This also enables better integration of new children into the Aarti family.
Most of our committee members are established doctors in the town. They are available at all times and generously provide general medical care and support to our children. We have an in-house psychologist who provides constant counselling for children who have been deeply traumatised.