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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Everybody's dad and mom

Offering empathy, not sympathy, Prince and Sujatha, a couple who are raising 20 street children, have thrown open the doors of their home to unknown urchins hoping to offer them a better future

Story: Bharati | Pawaskar | 19th January 2013, 08:33 Hrs

Four-year-old Michael was the youngest sibling in a familyof a widowed mother and her three kids. It was a sunny morning when he left histin shelter in the Sangolda slums to look for some food in the only place whereit could be hopefully found – the public garbage dump. Little Michael sat onthe heap of waste, hunting for leftover morsels from thrown away plastic bagsand containers.

It was a coincidence that Prince and Sujatha Aaron Golden, acouple with no children of their own, were driving by. Seeing a four-year-oldchild all alone in the midst of garbage, the couple stopped, and Prince got outof his car. As he walked towards Michael to find out what he was doing, thechild ran for his life. His little brain judged that he must have committedsome crime for which the unknown man would now punish him. Prince followed him,only to learn from the locals that this was an everyday story.

Moved by the sight and plight of this child, the AaronGolden couple made a life-changing decision; to look after destitute who werenobody’s children. Prince and Sujatha had to overcome many hurdles before theCare and Compassion Trust was born on November 28, 2002. Michael was the firstchild who stepped in. Today, he is a young man who could rise above his povertyand lead his own family to a life of dignity. “I am not ashamed of myunfortunate past. It was my past that inspired the birth of ‘Care andCompassion’ that brought me in,” he says.

Welcoming children from the streets, broken families,shattered homes and abused backgrounds, this registered charitable trust grewas years passed by. Exactly a decade later, 20 homeless and kinless childrenlive here today. There is currently a girl’s home at Altinho and a boy’s homeat Santa Cruz.

“The quality of a society’s well-being is decided by thehealthy growth of its young children. Well cared, educated and adequatelynourished children turn into responsible individuals and contribute to thehealthy growth of the society. It is sad that many young children are left asorphans by their own parents to grow in utter poverty. Total neglect of theirneeds and health slows mental growth and puts these helpless children not onlyin filthy surroundings but socially dangerous situations as well,” feelsPrince.

“It’s a home where our kids live with dignity, go to goodschools in Panjim, nurture their hobbies and follow their ambitions. Each oneof them has his/her own identity,” shares Sujatha, who sees to it that each ofthe kid is hale and hearty.

Picked up from negative environments, footpath, shantyshades and filthy slums, today it is a bunch of smiling, energetic, healthy andwelcoming children who help each other in their home works, run errands, sing,dance and paint.

“Sunday is full of activities. Volunteers visit our home toteach various arts and other skills to our kids. We have outings, picnics andmany birthday celebrations in a year. We do not ask for aid, but those who knowabout our mission donate generously,” shares Prince, pointing out that theworld is a better place than most think.

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