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  • Writer's pictureShishu Mandir

At Home in Shishu

Updated: May 24, 2022

Who would not want to get that little bit of extra sleep in the morning, wake up a little late? I would love to, but that’s not the way my day begins. My day begins at 6 am, when I step into the baby’s room of the Shishu Mandir Home. But every frustration with rising early vanishes that very second. It is a joy to see the cute smiles spread over the tiny faces of the babies early in the morning.

My mornings have not always been like this. It started last April 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning, and there was a request from the director, Anand sir asking us, past students of Shishu Mandir, to help take care of the babies, and also to earn a little money doing that.

I was already at the Home at that time, and volunteered for the task. I have always liked children and also want to teach, and this felt like an opportunity. I looked after the babies for some time and later helped with the older children. My daily routine was to feed the babies, change their nappies, play with them and then get them to sleep. The routine is the same, but it does involve a lot of learning process as well, I have had to learn how to carry and hold babies, change nappies, mix milk and so many other things. Looking after babies is a continuous learning process, they are changing everyday and their response to different people is so different. I had to learn how to deal with them. I also found it challenging to get them to eat; sometimes they are hungry but will refuse to eat!

It was harder to work with the older kids. At first, there were five children and as the months progressed, more children came back to the Home. It was hard for them to be in the Home all the time, with only each other for company and not being able to go to school. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to keep them occupied. That’s when I thought everyday will be a fun and a learning day, so we spent the days learning to do craft stuff, baking, gardening, discussing facts on science, solve simple logical Math questions, quiz, crosswords, sentence making, solving jigsaw puzzle, working on the subjects they fond difficult and so many other interesting and academic stuff blended together. I went to bed thinking, today is over, what will we do tomorrow.

Three other past students, Megha, Akshala, and Madhavi joined me here and I enjoyed their company. When I didn’t have classes or exams, I spent most of my time with the children itself. I love solving jigsaw puzzles, and spent hours solving them.

I am a Shishu child myself. I joined the School when I was 6 years old but I have also been a Home child from the time I was 8, when I lost my mother. She set herself on fire. My father was an alcoholic and this was one of the things that pushed my mother to take her life. After she died, I came to live in the Home.

For me, growing up at Shishu Home meant I had a family here. I was always busy doing something, going for evening walks, homework, story time and games. But I also learnt responsibility. We made our beds, cleaned our rooms and on Sundays, took turns helping in the kitchen, even going to the market. As we were growing up, children younger than us were joining Shishu, and our biggest responsibility was to take care of them, make them feel like family, and teach them how we learn and grow together in Shishu.

For the last one year, I have been here not as a child but an adult with responsibility, I have understood what it has been for the aunties to look after us. I really wonder if I was troublesome when I was a kid. I hope I wasn’t. I understand the trouble it takes to take care of children who come from different family mindsets, with different ways of looking at things. To understand them, and make them understand our view is something that requires a lot of work. Now, taking care of children growing up like me, I am able to connect with them, and they with m

During this year, I completed my graduation and enrolled for a Masters in Life Sciences at Mount Carmel College. I continue to stay at Shishu, working two hours a day with the newborn babies as I have to attend classes and study.

When I was younger, I used to dread growing up and moving out of Shishu. I wondered how being away from here will affect me, because my happiest memories revolve around Shishu. In 2019, I moved out of the Home to stay in a hostel closer to my college. I missed the noise and liveliness of the Shishu Home the most.

When the pandemic arrived, I came back to Shishu. These months gave me an opportunity to rediscover myself, and learn my potential. I am glad that I was able to help whatever little I could by working in Shishu.

- Vishalakshi M

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