Varun* - An eight-year-old boy was placed in institutional care with his younger brother, Arjun*. The children had lost their parents to HIV and were survived by their older sister Lata*. Being HIV positive themselves, they needed extra care to manage themselves which was not possible for Lata* or the relatives to provide both - financially and capacity-wise. The extended family decided to admit the brothers to a child care institution (CCI) for further care and upkeep. The brothers spent a part of their lives at the institution but were happy because they had each other. They grew up with the other children, had access to quality education, healthcare and learned life skills to wade through their growing years. All this while they were longing to return home to their uncle, aunty, and sister Lata*.
Last year, when Varun* turned 18 - he could no longer live at the CCI. The law in our country says that children have to look after themselves once they reach the age of 18 years. Miracle Foundation India focuses on the effective rehabilitation and social reintegration of these children who have no place to go and support them with their education till they settle down with employment.
In Varun’s case, he was keen to pursue and continue his education at the local university. His caseworker identified his maternal uncle and aunt to be his possible guardians once he left the CCI. After following and implementing a series of case management tools, Varun* was finally permanently placed by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to his extended family. His younger brother is still in the care of the CCI and longs to reunite with Varun and their older sister. He feels lonely there as he misses his family.
Though the family is affectionate towards the siblings, their financial condition still is a threat to the children, being separated from the family yet again. The maternal uncle - a tailor injured his leg gravely and has been unable to find work ever since. The family of seven is dependent on the meager earnings of the aunt who works as a farmhand. His sister has picked up a job at the nearby bakery and makes enough to make ends meet.
Given the situation, the program officer is exploring the possibility of the alternative care option of independent living for him. This way, the older sister can support the household while Varun* completes his Diploma and takes up a job. It also makes it possible for their younger brother to be re-integrated with the siblings. It is to keep the best interest of the child in mind.
Miracle Foundation India works with thousands of children like Varun* and his siblings to transition from institutionalized care to family-based and alternative care. At the same time, we focus on preventing children at risk of separation from their families from entering the orphan crisis. We have impacted nearly 15,000 children with our efforts.
As you read this, Miracle’s team is searching for vocational skills to help Lata* enhance her employability and support her siblings without worry. We got her enrolled in a free computer course in the community outreach program. She is so grateful for the opportunity. The extended family will continue to play a supportive role in the lives of the children.
Miracle has also linked the family to government schemes and NGOs for support and resources. Miracle will continue to support the brothers’ education and other needs identified by our Thrive Scale tool as long as the small family can take care of each other.
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*Children's names changed to protect privacy.