Relinquishing a child that you love due to poverty is a decision most parents have probably never had to make. As a loving parent with two precious children, I shudder at the thought. But for some well-meaning parents like Rama from Nepal, it was a decision they felt they needed to make for a lack of better alternatives.
I'm glad to say that BSF is now giving Rama, and other parents like her, a better alternative and new opportunities so they can keep their children in a loving family. But this is how Rama and Ritika's story dramatically unfolded...
Rama had already made the arrangements and signed papers to send her seven year old daughter, Ritika, away to an orphanage. Rama and Ritika loved each other so much but the family were struggling to cope financially, and Ritika's older sister was also ill. Rama couldn't even afford to pay for their school fees. After being persuaded by others that it was the best thing to do, Rama agreed to send Ritika away to live in an orphanage, even though Ritika desperately wanted to stay with her mother. Rama hoped she was doing the right thing but deep down she had her doubts and really wanted to keep her children in the family.
The day before Ritika was to leave for the orphanage, BSF workers in Dhapakhel, Nepal, just happened to meet the family and heard of their situation. They shared with Rama about the importance of keeping a young child in a family, and about the bonds of love and attachment that form which are so important in early childhood development. They offered a better alternative which would allow Ritika to remain, supporting the family to develop holistically so they could also become more financially secure and sustainable. Rama and Ritika were ecstatic!
Rama told the orphanage she had changed her mind and wasn't going to send Ritika away anymore. She would keep her in the family which is exactly where Ritika wanted to stay. Rama said, "BSF helped changed my way of thinking. Now I know that my daughter will be happier staying by my side than being sent to a childcare home that would just fulfil her physical needs but not her holistic needs."
When Ritika found out the good news that her mother had changed her mind and that she could stay with her family she said, "I always wanted to stay with my mother. I love her so much. I don't want to go anywhere else, no matter what they may give me."
After living in Asia for over 17 years, it is becoming clearer to me that when a young child from a poor loving family is to be sent to a nice looking orphanage or children's home and is asked where they would rather be, they almost always prefer to remain with their family, even if that family is suffering from extreme poverty. But sadly, the child's wishes are rarely heard and alternatives for the family are rarely offered. There is a bond that forms between a loving parent and a young child that money can't buy. It is the bond we see between Ritika and her mother, despite the adversities they face. That loving bong is something BSF wants to try to protect and nurture in the family whenever we can.
Rama and her children are now enjoying being together and are a part of our 18-month family strengthening program in Dhapakhel, Nepal. They receive parent/caregiver training, have their school fees and educational needs provided for, receive support to improve their health, go on family fun day outings arranged by BSF, and Rama is also receiving livelihood support to help her break the cycle of poverty in her family and become more financially sustainable.
After learning that Rama had skills and an interest to raise livestock, BSF helped her construct a chicken coop and provided her with 50 chickens to get her little farm up and running. Rama is overwhelmed at the love and support her family have received through BSF and is so glad to now be able to keep Ritika in the family. Rama said, "Ritika is with me now and I will work hard to earn a living so I can always keep my daughters together with me in our family."
We are so grateful to all our BSF donor partners around the world who help us keep poor loving families together...families like Rama and Ritika's. This is all possible because of you. BSF currently assists 72 families in Nepal and Thailand. In our first ten years, we hope to provide 500 families with similar opportunities that Rama's family have experienced, through your help. Did you know BSF's Annual End of Financial Year Appeal for 2022 is currently running...if you would like to help us reach more families, please click on the following link for details: Building Strong Families EOFY Appeal (raisely.com)
BSF is a partner for project J1079 & J1102 with Australian NGO, Global Development Group (ABN 57 102 400 993). Donations to BSF through Global Development Group are tax deductible in Australia, NZ, and the USA.