Updated: June 16, 2021 7:13:34 am
WITH a Madhya Pradesh government scheme for Covid relief only covering those orphaned by the virus, the Mandsaur district administration has floated a separate programme for those left destitute by death of a single parent.
The Muskurata Mandsaur initiative, launched with the help of private donors, will offer Rs 2,000 monthly for such children for the next two years, as well as ensure free education in both government and private schools.
Collector Manoj Pushp is also putting together a network of volunteers to look after the children as their guardians, including visiting them at least twice a week.
Government officials will also be visiting them regularly. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan recently appreciated the Mandsaur initiative, adding that the state government would soon launch a scheme to help all children “who have lost their parents, even apart from Covid”, taking care of their accommodation, education, food and other basic needs, with help from civil society.
One of the beneficiaries of Muskurata Mandsaur will be the Ratnawar family, whose sole breadwinner Rakesh died of Covid on April 17, leaving behind his wife Pinky and a school-going son. Rakesh ran a medical store. His brother Vipin said they had been running around trying to get help under government schemes.
However, the family isn’t eligible for the Mukhya Mantri Bal Kalyan Yojana, providing Rs 5,000 per month along with offering state-sponsored higher education and monthly rations to Covid orphans — among the first such Covid-related government scheme across the country.
On May 31, more than 170 beneficiaries received their first instalment under the Yojana. The state has identified 715 cases of children losing both parents, and processed applications of 186. The number of identified children who lost a parent are more than double that, 1,551.
Swati Meena, Director, Women and Child Development, acknowledged that these children too need aid, but said it was mostly financial help.
“They are not at the risk of being trafficked as one parent is there to care for them,” Meena added, saying that is why their first priority were children left orphaned.
In Mandsaur, the administration has identified 267 cases of children losing a parent, and 27 where both parents are dead. Officials said 10 donors had already agreed to sponsor education of children as part of Muskurata Mandsaur.
Collector Pushp said their primary condition was someone who could give time to the children, and that they were not looking for big donors.
An existing government programme, Integrated Child Protection Scheme, provides Rs 2,000 monthly for children dealing with the loss of a parent or financial stress. However, this scheme couldn’t extend more aid as only Rs 10 lakh is allotted per district annually under it.
The Muskurata Mandsaur initiative has raised Rs 20 lakh through donations. For the Ratnakar family, every day’s wait counts.
“We understand that those children who have lost both parents need utmost attention, but I just want to point out that my brother was the sole breadwinner and our family is in a precarious condition,” said Vipin.
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