Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh: Unable to bear children of their own, a couple from Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh has adopted six children who were abandoned by their birth parents.
In 1986, Pritam Sharma, then 24, had got married. In the next 10years, he and his wife Satisho tried many times to conceive, but to no avail. Then, they decided that they would adopt abandoned or orphaned children. Since then, the couple has adopted five girls and a boy who were found abandoned near garbage dumps, agricultural fields and ponds.
A resident of Rampur Bakli village, Pritam is a labourer and earns about Rs 7,000 every month. He stated that their first daughter was found abandoned on his sister’s farm in Meerut district about 22 years ago. The couple had brought the child home and started raising her.
By then, the villagers were already aware of his desire to adopt children. In 2000, an infant girl was left outside their house at night. In 2003, Pritam’s nephew and his wife passed away in a road accident, leaving their daughter orphaned. The couple adopted their daughter. At that time, Pritam mentioned, he was working for a daily wage of Rs 50 at a brick kiln. However, he took an extra job of selling bread to support his family.
In 2006, while selling bread near Bijnor railway station, he found a newborn girl in a pile of garbage near a well. Pritam comforted the kid and brought her home. In 2009, the couple found an infant boy lying by a pond near their house. Later, they realised that he was visually impaired. In 2014, a relative of the couple brought them an infant girl who was found abandoned in an agricultural field.
Pritam mentioned that whenever he found an abandoned child, he posted ads in the local newspapers, but nobody ever came to claim them.
Help from community With a big family, Pritam took up odd jobs to support them. From selling bread, he took up a job at a local sugar mill, where he was first paid Rs 3,000 per month, which then increased to Rs 7,000 per month. With his meagre earnings, he could have enrolled his children only in a government school. However, he got them admitted to private schools. The school offered fee waivers and he just had to pay for their books and uniform.
He got his two elder daughters married after the completion of their diploma in computer application. His elder daughter is married to an LIC employee in Bijnor in 2017 and his second-eldest daughter is married to an engineer from Chandigarh. The third daughter is in standard 11, the fourth daughter in standard 9 and their son is in standard 6, while their youngest daughter is in kindergarten.
Pritam mentioned that many people helped him when they came to know his purpose and intention. In the beginning, a local doctor, Dr Deepak Gaur, helped him with Rs. 2,000 to procure a goat for milk. Later, one of his daughters, who used to get epileptic seizures, was treated by Dr Vipin Mohan Vashistha, a paediatrician, pro bono. An ophthalmologist Dr Sanjeev Rana had operated on Pritam’s son and helped him regain his sight.
Apart from that, many social workers and NGOs have contributed to help him run his family. A Bengaluru-based organisation had sent Rs 80,000 for the construction of his house, with which he was finally able to construct a pucca house. Even during the lockdown, when his livelihood was affected, local residents offered him groceries.
Pritam's wife Satisho has supported him at every step. While he was busy arranging daily needs through his wages, Satisho used to cut fodder for cow, goat and took care of the children. Satisho said, “Little souls find their way to you whether it's from your womb or someone else's.”
Even today, if they will find a child rejected by society, they would not step back in adopting it too, she added.
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