The 25-odd children belonging to Pardhi community and living in a residential facility in Ahmednagar district may finally step out of their village and see the outside world. Several families in Pune have responded to an appeal made by Anant Zende, founder of Mahamanav Baba Amte Ashram at Shrigonda, to host these children for a few days during the summer vacation next month.
Within a few days of Newsline publishing Zende’s appeal in an article, people from different walks of life, besides several organisations, have volunteered to play host to the disadvantaged children.
“We have received 21 calls so far after the article appeared and are overwhelmed with the response. This means a lot for the future of our children,” said Zende.
Some of the families who have expressed commitment to become a part of the tour and make it successful said they would do everything possible to make the stay of these children with them a memorable one.
Terming the proposed tour as a “wonderful initiative”, Meeran Chadha Borwankar, Additional Director General of Police and Inspector General of Prisons, said she would host some of these children.
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K L Raina, a retired Steel Authority of India official staying in Kondhwa, said the proposed tour would offer him an opportunity to serve the society. “Besides hosting some of the Pardhi community children, I would also like to carry out free health check-up of all children in the group at a hospital run by my son and daughter-in-law,” he said.
Among the volunteers are Rashmi Bhardwaj from Aundh, who wants to host a girl as she misses having a granddaughter, Vivek Shenoy, a bank manager and trustee of a school run by a social organisation in Wagholi who thinks the proposed tour would help the Pardhi children come out of their shell, and Manasi Abhynakar from Kothrud, who is associated with welfare activities for underprivileged children.
Sugandha Johar from Wakad, who is an expert in learning methods for children, said she would help the Pardhi children with her expertise.
Nikita Kamthekar, a law student who stays in Kothrud along with her mother, said she was keen to host the children and it would be a memorable experience. Captain (Retd) Ashutosh Kotkar, who stays in Sahakar Nagar area, said the tour would help the children come up to the desired level in society
Anil Gunjal, Additional Secretary of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education who first conceived the idea of arranging a Pune tour for these Pardhi community students, said the detailed schedule of the proposed initiative would be charted out within a week after consulting Mahamanav Baba Amte Ashram and the residents of Pune who showed interest in hosting them.
The special trip aims to help bring a positive change in the outlook of the children towards life as the community branded as criminals by the British still leads a life of neglect and discrimination.