Shishu Mandir’s motto comes from our Founder’s wish for children to be liberated from the shackles of poverty, social ills, and ignorance. We strongly believe that by offering children a safe and secure environment to grow and learn, we can fulfil this goal.
Shishu Mandir was started by Dr Hella Mundhra. who was born at Hameln, Germany. She arrived in India in the early 1970s. In Bengaluru Hella ran a nursing home for several years. During this time she began offering medical services to slum dwellers. This led to the start of Shishu Mandir as a home for children, who came with long-standing illnesses and whose parents were unable to provide medical help for them.
We began as a place of shelter for children. When the time came for them to be educated, Hella enrolled them in the neighbourhood schools. It was soon obvious that the kind of education they needed was either not available or not affordable. So she started a school that would address their unique needs as first generation learners. She was joined by others who shared her commitment to teach, such that first-generation learners could learn and be motivated to continue learning.
As our children grew, and we grew as an organisation, we felt that we could make the biggest impact on our children’s lives, if we addressed the deeper social and economic challenges their families faced. All our work has been a response to this need. We have consolidated our initiatives to impact an entire community such that every family receives some form of support from us and together be empowered.
Shishu Mandir is a registered Society in India. The society with 7 executive committee members is involved in the various programmes and initiatives. The Society meets once every two months. A sister society in Germany spearheads our fundraising efforts for the School and the Children’s Home. They are consulted on large projects undertaken by the organisation.
THE COMMUNITY WE SERVE.
We are part of a neighbourhood with 20 villages, and a total population of nearly 100,000. Of these, around 60 percent live below the poverty line (defined as an income of INR 1,200 per person per month).
The livelihood opportunities available are as labourers in construction (for men) and as domestic help (for women). Construction workers are daily wage earners and do not have the guarantee of sustained work. Working as a domestic help does not pay sufficiently. Neither offer benefits such as health care or pension. Neither allow to pay for education or for savings.
At least half the population living here are former migrant workers. Originally from the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu they have been living here for the last 20 to 30 years. The other 50 percent of the population are new settlers from regions including North Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and even as far as Nepal. They have come in search of jobs, as they have no source of income back home. They are largely agricultural labourers and often uneducated.
Social problems that plague the community are untouchability, which is prevalent. The other social problems are polygamy, adultery and alcoholism. Families are often large with 4 to 5 children in each, especially if the earlier born are girls.
OUR INTERVENTION IS MULTI FOLD.
We believe that our support should enable the population to achieve an acceptable quality of life, not create a dependency on us. While economic growth is easier to measure and more tangible, we are particularly happy to see a generational shift in social outlook. Caste biases and prejudices have been an aspect in our community empowerment, one that we have strived to erase. Our children go into the world as confident individuals, without the baggage of caste and social biases. Our education, training, and support is towards creating successive generations of empowered youth, who can participate in society and not remain on its fringes.
offered as admission to our school, or financial support to enroll in other schools.
to make them employable in the organised sector.
with access to medical care and a childcare centre, when they return to work.
in particular, with access to safe drinking water.
Construction of houses
to improve the quality of life, where the family owns a piece of land.
to eradicate the caste system as well as child marriage and the dowry system.
for abandoned pregnant women and babies.
Ensuring that Government
infrastructure and benefit schemes reach the people.
Each year, we support
25 babies who come for adoption
40 children in our Children’s Home
100 children from 2.5-5 years at our Child Care Centre
240 children in the Shishu Mandir Education Centre
370 youth at the Community College
98 students for their higher education
60 children who are siblings of our school students for their education
100 children for Evening Study from two slums in the vicinity
200 women via 10 Self Help Groups
250 adoptive parents for counselling and pre-adoption services.
During the first wave of the COVID pandemic 13,000 families in the neighbourhood were provided with provisions from March 2020 to Dec 2020. We continued to provide provisions up to March 2021 reaching 3000 families.
Every family in this community has benefited in some way from Shishu Mandir, in schooling, child care, evening tuition or skill development. Not all support is economic; some come for advice or counselling, which is also offered. When small industries in the neighborhood have a requirement for skilled workers, we connect them to trained students and are thus able to offer a skilled workforce.
We are not just an organisation, we see ourselves as a large family. And as families do, we remain connected with every child, who passes through our doors. We are with them, until they stand on their own feet and often beyond. Through higher education, marriage, emotional or financial stress, we are always there for them.