| Girls light candles at Padri Ki Haveli in Patna City on Wednesday. Picture by Sachin |
A few residents of the city observed Christmas with a difference. Away from the glitz and merriment, these souls visited Nirmala Shishu Bhavan to light up the lives of orphaned kids.
The orphanage is run by Padri Ki Haveli in Patna City. For five-year-old Anita, Christmas was really special as many people distributed clothes, food and chocolates.
“I got chocolates. It made my day. Though I got some new dresses, I am delighted to get the chocolates,” said a beaming Anita. She is the only child of one Sushila Devi (name changed) who died of AIDS at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) two years ago.
Anita, however, is neither afflicted with the disease that claimed her mother nor is she infected with HIV. Yet the stigma associated with AIDS had alienated her from society.
After the death of her mother, Anita continued to live on the hospital premises as no one turned up to claim her. A few days later, Sister Rose, superior, Nirmala Shishu Bhavan visited NMCH and approached the authorities to take her to the orphanage.
If chocolates made Anita’s day, 12-year-old Rashmi was overwhelmed by the love and adoration she received. Many residents of the area had come down to the orphanage to spend time with these kids. She said: “I am happy to celebrate the festival with the residents. It was so nice of them to come here and be with us. Their love and affection is very precious to me. I felt very special,” said Rashmi.
Among the residents was Pooja Ann, the vice-principal, Jesus and Mary Academy. She said: “Every year, I make it a point that at least some of my students come here and celebrate the festival with these special kids. We conduct this exercise to make them realise that there is a world beyond their family and friends. They should understand that there are children who don’t have a family or miss out on comforts of life but are still happy. This realisation would help them be better human beings.”
She added: “Today (Wednesday), around 50 students celebrated Xmas with these children of Nirmala Shishu Bhavan. The best part was that some of them dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed gifts among the underprivileged kids. They also sang Jingle bells jingle bells. ”
Priya Kumari, a BCom part-III student of Vanijya Mahavidyalaya, was happy to spend a few hours with the children. “I shared some jokes and the children broke into laughter. I was happy I was able to make them smile,” said Priya.