Caring for the children of convicts, Socare Ind is a compelling chronicle of compassion

children of prisoners

Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity

Confucius

It requires a soul of immense emotion to be able to realise the pain of a suffering without even living it. It’s true that no other person on earth can decipher exactly the trauma and turmoil that characterise the lives of some indigent being, hapless and helpless, surviving in a world that considers them to be lesser humans. And yet amidst the congregation of the single headed, two legged social animals we identify as humans, there exists a breed so empathetic even in perception that they selflessly make the good of others a life pursuit of their own.

It is a notion universally alarming that crime begets crime. Be it someone who is a victim of such crime or the witness of it, the tendency to commit a crime witnesses an intensification for someone either actively or passively in the grip of it. Even when this attribute is something we condemn as stigma, the psychological basis of such claims aren’t without any substance. Which is why it becomes so essential to pull generations out of crime altogether if the world needs to have a safe existence.

Why we are stressing on this notion of as vicey a mention as crime in our lauding of benevolence is not only because we need to be averse to it. Crime witnesses are sometimes the worst sufferers- worse even than the victim. For however shocking and unsettling a truth that might be, the victims do not mostly live around to see justice. While you may consider that as appalling, there’s a parallel reality to it as well. What however is not any less deafening a din is the sighs that many of the passive victims of such crime emanate in all their disillusioned might. Specifically when it is the innocent minds of children that are tramautised by witnesses of such ghastly acts, it’s an entire society that is at stake.

But perhaps even more concerning than this visible aspect of the entire grim scenario is the stigma of these witnesses being lesser humans. Just because these children happen to come from families where the father killed the wife or the parents are behind bars for some crime, society tends to view even the innocent as heinous culprits. Naturally then, leading a normal life for most kids emerging out of such circumstances is only a dream. The stark reality that unfolds for them is one that has the world condemning them as criminals. With no parents to look up to and no relative willing to take them in and also with virtually no money, these underprivileged lives scavenge for a chance at survival amidst bleak and uncertain, often pathetic premises.

It was the sight of two such hapless kids that had a non government organisation Socare Ind see the light of day back in 1999. This NGO, the Society’s Care for Indigent was the brainchild of one Mr. Venkataraghavachari Mani who was so stirred by the two crying kids outside Bengaluru’s Central Jail that he immediately took them in. In fact, a regular passerby by the prison enroute his work place, Mani was witness to many such kids eagerly seeking permission to see their parents inside the premises.

Mani and wife
Source: Socare Ind

An assistant general manager with the Reserve Bank of India, Mani took it upon himself to deliver a fresh lease of life to the unfortunate kids and with support from his wife Saroj Mani set up Socare Ind after his retirement. Investing all of his life’s savings and his retirement money, the Mani couple started seeking out various prisons in Karnataka to take more such destitute children under their selfless wings. Two decades hence and Socare Ind has expanded from the initial two children and now has under its care about 180 children housed in its three branches- Rajajinagar, Laggere and Gulbarga.

What Socare Ind does however is not just limited to providing these underprivileged lot a secure shelter. In its belief in holistic development of all children who it believes is no less than anyone else, the NGO does all in its capacity to ensure that each of them receives the education required to sustain them for life. From elementary schooling to providing higher education and even vocational training, Socare Ind nurtures these children like their own, making them competent enough so that they manage to make it big in the world with their own identity.

Venkataraghavachari mani
Source: Gulf News

What’s perhaps even more heartwarming an aspect that the Socare Ind inmates live in is their camaraderie and spirit. They are all one large family; even with no blood relations, these children have fostered a bond of their own. They might all have stepped into the Socare society shaken and traumatised, but they emerge resilient, strong individuals of their own. It is commendable that even as witnesses of considerable violence within their own families, these children still hope and thrive with each other, as siblings, as friends and more importantly as family. Even when it’s been more than some couple of years since the Mani couple passed away, Socare Ind sustains as a kind of its own- serving humanity in a manner that makes the world all the more better a place to live in.