Every day in the evening, a group of about two dozen children join their hands in prayer at a home in Rajajinagar Stage II. They go to school during the day time, play in the evening and are like any other children. The only difference is they are the children of convicts undergoing imprisonment, but are fortunate in having a foster father, Venkata Raghavachari Mani, and his dedicated team.
Mani, who was an officer in the Reserve Bank of India on Nrupatunga Road, used to pass the Central Jail everyday on his way to work. He noticed that a crowd of women waiting to meet their husbands and many of the women carried young children with them.
This scene made Mani to wonder as to what kind of a future these children would have if they were left to their own devices. He decided to do something for these children as his own three children are well-settled in USA and Australia. After he retired in 1998 as an assistant general manager with RBI, he used his life savings of about Rs 3 lakh to set up a home for children of convicts on the premises of his own house in Rajajinagar.
Mani contacted the then DGP (Prisons) H T Sangliana and other jail officials and began in 1998 with two children, who were taken care of by Mani and his wife Saroji. In June 1999 he set up Society’s Care for Indigent (Socare Ind), a registered non-profit Trust with former DGP (Prisons) L Revanasiddaiah as the chief patron and seven trustees.
Today there are about 24 children of convicts from Bangalore, Mysore, Bellary and Bijapur jails. The youngest inmate is about a year and a half and the oldest is about 11 years. All their needs including food, shelter, clothing, health and education are taken care of with the assistance of a few part-time and full-time staff. Although girls are not admitted for practical reasons, they are referred to other voluntary organisations.
The children are taught martial arts to instill confidence in them, given tuitions to help them in studies. In this competitive world, these children should come out confident like any other children and be successful in life”, says Mani. He has plans to install some computers The children have won many awards trophies in sports and have excelled in academics even getting ranks.