The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Glad days for Guria
- Battered child reunited with mother, set to join hometown school

Two years of trauma have finally ended on a happy note of reunification for Sarita Kumari Singh, alias Guria.

She was brought to Calcutta from Ranchi to work as a domestic help two years ago, when she was just seven. Beaten up brutally and regularly by her employer, Guria went blind in the right eye late last year.

Her luck turned on October 3 when she was rescued by Sruti Ghosh, a student of Loreto Day School, Sealdah, and others from the clutches of her employers in Rabindrapalli, Kestopur.

And the smile was back on the nine-year-old girl's face on Thursday as she prepared to leave the city for Ranchi, with mother Munni Devi Singh.

'It is a joyous moment for all of us at the school to see Guria going back home with her mother,' said Sister Cyril, principal of Loreto Day School, Sealdah.

'As soon as she reaches Ranchi on Friday, Guria will be admitted to the Rainbow school (for destitute children) of the Loreto branch there. After studying there for a few years, she will be able to get into mainstream education. She will be accommodated in the secondary section of the Ranchi branch of Loreto,' explained Sister Cyril.

The Loreto Day School, Sealdah, team was instrumental in Guria's rescue and rehabilitation.

Santanu Banerjee, a World Health Organisation officer, and his wife Piu, a teacher, would regularly torture the child whom they had brought from Ranchi after promising her widowed mother that they would keep her daughter as a companion to their only son and also provide her with an education.

The girl had gone blind in the right eye due to a 'traumatic cataract' caused by an injury during a particularly brutal bout of beating.

'They (the Banerjees) misled me. Guria was only a seven-year-old girl when they brought her here. I could never dream that they would torture my little daughter so badly,' said Munni Devi Singh. 'I promise I never will allow my daughter to work.'

Sister Cyril made it clear that she had made all arrangements to ensure that Guria was not pushed back into child labour once she returned to Ranchi.

'I have had a detailed discussion with the authorities of the Loreto branch in Ranchi. They have given us the assurance that they will monitor the child regularly and ensure that she continues with her studies,' said Sister Cyril.

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