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‘Mom’ to 150 Children in Want, Girl Spends 32 Yrs Serving to Them


    In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a younger Alice is bored of sitting by the river along with her sister. She spots a rabbit that appears somewhat totally different and decides to comply with him on a whim. And so she heads down a rabbit gap and arrives in Wonderland. 

    As youngsters, all of us who learn the basic by Lewis Carroll dreamt of visiting Wonderland ourselves some day. 

    However what is that this land? I suppose it relies upon from individual to individual. For me, it’s a fantasy land, however for a lot of youngsters who wouldn’t have anybody to take care of them, it’s primary training, dignified life, and a safe future. 

    Such is the case for a number of youngsters in Puducherry, for whom ‘Alice’ has created a kind of ‘wonderland’ for the previous 32 years. 

    Alice Thomas is a 53-year-old who runs Udhavi Karangal to work in the direction of rehabilitation of youngsters who’ve nowhere to go. These embody these dwelling on the streets, coming from tribal communities, orphans, or any youngster who wants a very good training and life. 

    Take, for instance, seven-year-old Subash* (identify modified). His life included begging every day and consuming no matter he acquired as alms. His mother and father had been ragpickers and trusted him to gather cash. 

    In 2001, Alice took him below her wing and reworked his life. Right now, he’s an engineer working in a MNC. 

    Subash is one in all over 150 youngsters that Alice, who began Udhavi Karangal in 1991, works with. She runs a main faculty, a boys’ house, a women’ house, and a women’ commentary house in Puducherry. 

    She started her endeavour when she was solely 21 years outdated, and all of it started with an eight-year-old boy. 

    Discovering her ‘true calling’

    Alice at the wedding of one of her children
    Alice Thomas on the wedding ceremony of one in all her youngsters

    “I used to be sitting at my pal’s home and a boy got here begging and asking for meals. I advised him, ‘Why do you need to beg? Include me, I’ll feed you and educate you’. He agreed instantly, however stated that I have to inform my mom. I took him on my cycle and the very first thing his mom requested was, ‘Did you carry meals?’. When he stated no, she began yelling and beating him,” Alice remembers to The Higher India.

    However the boy insisted that he go together with Alice, and the remaining, as they are saying, is historical past. Because of him, she discovered her life’s objective, she says. After he got here to her home, he introduced alongside two extra pals. Alice helped them get a primary training and vocational coaching

    “Right now, that boy’s daughter — my granddaughter — is pursuing her remaining yr in BSc Nursing. One other grandson is a state hockey participant in Tamil Nadu,” says Alice as she beams with pleasure. 

    Desirous about social work since she was a young person, Alice was concerned within the complete literacy programme in Puducherry at the same time as a pupil.

    “I used to be accountable for sure areas on the town and slums. A lot of the mother and father we noticed had been alcoholics and their youngsters had been ragpickers. They had been depending on their youngsters for meals and cash. I at all times knew I needed to assist these youngsters, however I additionally dreamt of changing into a lawyer like my grandfather. However that small boy confirmed me my true calling,” Alice smiles.

    Initially, she would enrol the youngsters in faculties and supply vocational coaching. “However I used to be unable to assist them past Class 10 or 12 initially. Slowly, as we grew and constructed these properties, we additionally began our personal main faculty. Right now, we’re totally outfitted to assist them with their publish commencement and past,” she says. 

    When the primary boy got here, Alice rented a spot subsequent to her home. After a yr, she says, she shifted them to her mum or dad’s house. She later purchased land in Nonankuppam, Puducherry. 

    Her organisation is authorities funded, with further funding coming from Alice and well-wishers for provisions. 

    ‘My greatest victory is their success’

    Alice with her children
    Alice Thomas along with her youngsters on the faculty she runs

    Initially, getting youngsters to their house was a problem, however because of adjustments in authorities insurance policies, it has turn into simpler, she says.  

    “At first, I’d be on the roads to search out these youngsters. It was additionally robust convincing the mother and father. However now, individuals know of us and so they ship their youngsters to us. It has turn into simpler previously 10-15 years. The federal government can also be extra conscious, with the Baby Welfare Committee (CWC) and juvenile justice regulation,” provides Alice. 

    However even as we speak, getting some youngsters, like these from tribal communities, stays difficult.  

    “Some mother and father take their youngsters to work in brick kilns or for sugarcane reducing. My focus now’s on such youngsters. For kids whose mother and father don’t cooperate, we additionally provide house education and make them full their training by way of correspondence,” provides Alice.

    Such is her dedication to her youngsters that she and her husband determined to not have any themselves, as they already had 13 after they obtained married. 

    As for what Alice means to the youngsters, Balaji, who has been related to Udhavi Karangal since he was a baby, says, “I got here right here in 2002, once I was about seven years outdated. It was simply my mom and I, and Alice took us below her wing. Right now, I’m an engineer working as a software program developer in Chennai.” 

    In reality, most of the youngsters, who Alice says are like her personal, are engineers, nurses, paramedical employees, musicians, and social employees. “One among my youngsters accomplished MPhil and MSW and is working as a senior youngster counsellor in our house. One other one did MSc Med and is the principal at my faculty. Their vivid future is my greatest victory. They’re able to give a very good life to the following technology,” she says.

    Edited by Divya Sethu