THE following two case studies are real-life stories of children, written by Kirsty Erskine, a volunteer from the UK who spent a month based at the Heal Children's Village in Guntur. The names of the children have been changed to protect their identities.
CASE STUDY 1
About six months ago three boys were bought to the Heal village. They had been rescued from various train stations across India where they had been begging and living alone on the platforms. They were taken to their local police stations and unsurprisingly no one came to claim them.
An educational institution then took care of them but all three boys frequently ran away as they were used to being alone and fending for themselves. After a year of this, they were brought to Heal in the hope that it might be the right place for them.
Since being there, not one of them has run away. It was amazing for me to hear this story, and then to see the boys so easily and naturally interacting with the other children. At last they were able to be children, to play and to be part of a family.
CASE STUDY 2
Sharif and his older sister Asha are now both under the care of Heal. A few years ago their father was murdered over local village politics and shortly afterwards their mother died of a broken heart.
Sharif was bought to Heal Village immediately where he has flourished, showing particular skills in English and Art. His sister Asha, however, stayed in her home village and lived with her grandmother. When her grandmother recently died there was nowhere for Asha to go and understandably Sharif was terrified for his sister.
Asha was consequently brought to Heal where she is now studying at college. I was fortunate enough to see her when she arrived at Heal and also a few weeks into her new life. The transformation was incredible. Asha had turned from a scared, shy and sad girl, into a confident, bright and happy young lady, playing games and laughing with her new friends.