‘The children of life convicts are rendered orphans for all practical purposes, and to see them crying outside the jail is very sad,’ V Mani, who started a home for them after his retirement, told Vicky Nanjappa.
Continuing our Independence Day special series: Extraordinary Indians.
There are very few people in India who can touch several lives and one such person is V Mani.
While working as an assistant general manager at the Reserve Bank of India, Mani passed the central jail in Bengaluru every day. The sight of relatives, particularly children, waiting outside the jail to see their loved ones made him decide that he needed to do something for the children of prisoners.
“The children of life convicts are rendered orphans for all practical purposes, so I decided why not do something for them and hence Socare Ind (Society’s care for Indegent) was born,” says Mani, who started Socare in 1999, along with his wife Saroji, after his retirement. The couple put their retirement money and all their life’s earnings to the cause.
“To see children crying outside the jail moved me a great deal and the thought that the breadwinner of the family was inside made me even more sad. These kids were being treated as burdens in society.”
Today, Socare has 136 children under its care and Mani says the main focus is on basic education to the deprived and providing comprehensive care to the children of prisoners in Karnataka. The children are also provided with vocational training after the 10th standard and higher education.
There is a feeling of joy as one enters Socare in Rajajinagar Bangalore. Children all set to go to school are saying their prayers. As I enter Mani’s office, I am greeted with a smile. A couple of kids follow me inside and start troubling their uncle (Mani).
What is even more touching is that Mani, who was discharged from hospital after a cardiac problem just four days ago, becomes almost a child with the children, often fighting and laughing with them.