Just over a year ago, Lee & I found ourselves in a rickshaw which unexpectedly made a stop enroute to Old Delhi. The rickshaw driver asked us to wait for 'a few minutes' for another driver and what we found roadside seemed curious to us both. We noticed a little niche carved out of an otherwise large perimeter wall, containing only an empty moses basket.
Before you read on, something you may not know is that 'foundling' is named in honour of both our father and grandfather, who both found themselves abandoned as very young children, so the cause is close to our hearts. Serendipity had delivered us to one of the Delhi's most noble and worthwhile charities.
Palna (which means cradle or 'nurture') is a home for the abandoned children of Old Delhi.The moses basket sitting just outside the fence of the property is where the children can be safely left. A sensor beneath the basket triggers an alarm inside the complex to alert the nurses that a child has been left to their care. Established in 1978 and providing a safe and loving environment for up to 80 children,
Palna is an initiative by the Delhi Council for Child Welfare,
an NGO lovingly run by Dr Sandhya Bhalla and her team of staff and volunteers. Lee and I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr Bhalla and her team, and were so impressed with how the centre was run, the quality of the facilities & staff but moreover, the immense love shown to the children at a time that they so desperately needed it. Before our meeting, our much loved team in India made an initial visit on our behalf, accompanied by a Government minister who was equally impressed, so much so that he made a personal donation after seeing first hand how important this initiative is for the foundlings of old Delhi.
Palna aims wherever possible to find loving homes for the children, however children with medical or physical disabilities who aren't favoured for adoption often remain in the care of Palna. For the most part however,
most of the younger children are fortunate enough to be adopted by their forever families and there are also heartwarming stories of parents whose circumstances change and they return to be reunited with their child.
Our first contribution to Palna was to assist with the purchase of a generator, so desperately needed to ensure that life support machines and air conditioning units could continue to function in an area of Delhi where power outages are commonplace. What we aim to do as an ongoing support is to donate a percentage of our sales each year, as much as we are able to help with ongoing costs and essential purchases needed to keep this NGO alive.