Bangalore: A hundred and seventy four children from various schools and colleges, under one roof. Some of them are good dancers, some are good at sports and some are even gold medalists in Karate at a national level. But this is not a temporary gathering. They live here. And there is one common factor that seamlessly binds all of them together - they all are children of prisoners.
V Mani, Founder-Trustee, So-Care Ind, says, "They're growing with abundant freedom without baggage which they may have to carry at home if they're there. They have a very difficult rural background. I'm sure if we had not take care, they'd have ended up as child labour, open to a lot of abuses as a defeated lot.”
Mani uncle, as he's lovingly referred to, is a retired Reserve Bank employee. Years ago, on his way to work, he would go past the Bangalore central jail and see many children waiting outside to meet their fathers. That's when with the help of a few friends, he decided to start a home for them.
"We give comprehensive care - health, education. Then we try to give a better life to lend a dignity to them," Mani says.
You can't punish a child or make him pay for his parents' wrongdoings and this home tries to meet the emotional needs of children of prisoners, some of them as young as three, to give them a fresh start.
Mani started So Care Ind with 16 children in his own house, some 13 years ago. Now, he is constructing a new building to accommodate 300 more children, a larger home to help the children take on a greater battle called life.