New Delhi, Jul 26 (PTI) 'I tried my best to give them everything that a mother would. When I look back, I know I have done my part in making their lives better,' says 87-year-old Sudha (name changed) as she fondly recalls her younger days spent caring for children at an orphanage.
Sudha said she always wanted to do something meaningful in her life but after her mother passed away, she found herself bogged down by familial responsibilities.
Next came the pressure from her family to get married. However, instead of marrying someone and starting a family, she chose to become family for those who didn't have one.
She started working with SOS Children's Village, Faridabad at the age of 31.
'In the past 50 years, I have been a parent to around 30 children,' the proud mother told PTI on Sunday on the occasion of Parents' Day.
Sukriti Sharma, 64, who has worked with various childcare homes across the country, is another such parent.
She started working with an orphanage after her mother passed away. Taking care of children was not only a way to help them but herself too.
'After suddenly losing my mother, I became very depressed and wanted to help those who did not have parents. I decided to become a caregiver to orphaned children. Living my life around children gave me a bigger purpose,' she said.
Having looked after around 15 children at a childcare home in Delhi over the past 20 years, Sharma said they are her real family now.
'Some of these children had come from very difficult situations. It is particularly difficult to deal with older children. They remember their families and also the trauma they suffered. In that case, we first become their friends, make them feel safe and then gradually take the role of a parent,' she said.
Working with childcare homes for two decades now, 53-year-old Padma Rawat has looked after 24 children, seven of whom are now married.
After her family did not approve of the man she wanted to marry, Rawat decided not to marry anyone else and devote her life to caring for children who do not have anyone to look after them.
'Today my family has more than 35 members with sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren,' she said.
For 67-year-old Mariam (name changed), a domestic violence survivor who has been working with orphanages for 15 years, the children have given her the love of a family.
After her husband remarried and threw her out of their house, she had nowhere to go. She found shelter at a government home and trained to take care of parentless children.
'After 15 years now, I am finally content. I have taken care of around 26 children who are now more than my family. I have not been in touch with anyone from my biological family. It is these children who helped me get back on my feet,' Mariam said.
'We are connected not by blood but love,' she sums up. PTI UZM DIV DIV