Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mustafa and Abdhul

Okay, enough stories about girls, here is my first post on some of the boys at the Aarti Home. The above photo is of Mustafa (in front) and Abdhul. Mustafa and Abdhul are orginally from the Mumbai area. They are not orphaned children at all, but actually lost children. The story, as I understand it, is that Mustafa and Abdhul both separately became lost from their families. Being very young at the time, they did not know how to find their homes and could not tell the police where they lived. The police posted notices in the newspaper trying to find their parents, but no one ever came to claim them. Not knowing what to do with these two boys, the Indian police decided to stick them in a juvenile detention center.

A few years ago, Sandhya was asked by the government to take her expertise on caring for so many children at once, and inspect the juvenile detention center. Sandhya said that was she found was disgusting: the boys lived in tiny cells with one (very unclean) bathroom for the entire center and were given bland, unnutrious dinners (rice, and sometimes curry if they were lucky). They were not given any kind of education or any other kind of activities to keep occupied. During her visit to this juvenile detention center, Sandhya was especially horrified to find Mustafa and Abdhul -- boys clearly too young to be criminals. When she heard their backstory, she convinced the government to allow her to bring them back to The Home where they have been living ever since.

One of the more heartbreaking moments at The Home was the week leading up to Mustafa's mother's birthday. Every day, Mustafa would ask Sandhya to call the Mumbai police to find his mother in order to wish her a timely "happy birthday". Of course, we could not find Mustafa's mother for him. Comforting him on her birthday was one of the saddest moments of my life.

Another interesting story about Mustafa and Abdhul was the day they decided to change their names. From their names, it is clear that both these boys came from Muslim families. Though the kids at the Aarti Home will try to convince you that there is no religion at The Home, there is prayer time when they read from the Bhagava Gita and also an altar for the Hindu Gods. Mustafa is especially religious, and likes to pick fresh flowers daily for the altar. Although the idea of religions being mutually exclusive of each other is not too strong at The Home (kids would constantly ask us or tell us about their favorite Gods; Ganesh and Jesus were always among the top three), most of the children are professed Hindus. Maybe it was this that made Mustafa uncomfortable, or maybe the passing of his mother's birthday lit some fire within him to start a new life, but something triggered Mustafa to change his name to Sreenivas. This was a little bit adorable because Sreenivas is the name of one the older boys at The Home whom Mustafa really liked, but mostly just strange because he was very, very adamant about the fact that everyone refer to him as Sreenivas. Abdhul, his best friend and most loyal follower, subsequently also decided he wanted to change his name but did not know what to change it to so Sandhya decided on "Sreekunth" for him. No one else at The Home seemed to think this name change was as strange as I did, so maybe it's a cultural thing? Anyhow, this happened towards the end of my stay, so these boys will always be Mustafa and Abdhul to me.

1 comment:

ojosprinces said...

Dios mio que injusta es la vida y que grande la obra de este Hogar, desde aqui prometo ayudar y comunicarselo a tods mis amigos para que colaboren.
Magnifica obra.
un saludo y felicidades por su labor!
isa.