A Post-Box in front of your house gate will not invite surprise reactions from onlookers, but a cradle installed to your house gate will create strange reactions from passerby. The ‘Cradle’ called ‘Sanjeevan Palna’ aka Cradle for life has till date has given life for approximately 800 girls who were abandoned by their parents citing various reasons.
Dr. Sarojini Agarwal, in her 80s, is the ‘Maa’ for all such destitute children. She had lost her eight-year-old daughter Manisha in a road accident in the year 1978. Dr. Agarawal was driving the scooter that met with the accident, and her daughter was riding pillion. But by 1985 she could overcome sorrow feelings and decided to make her daughter Manisha’s memories an everlasting one through a foundation called Manisha Mandir, which today has given shelter to hundreds of Manisha’s who aren’t blessed to be nurtured by their biological parents. Thus the saga of Dr. Sarojini Agarwal as ‘Maa’ for thousands of little ones had quite a beginning.
Dr. Agarwal’s family
Dr. Sarojini Agarwal, born and brought up in Jodhpur, is a Ph.D. in Hindi Literature and mother of four, three sons and Manisha. Dr. Agarwal’s husband V C Agarwal has supported her in all endeavors. She proudly says that she has aptly balanced her primary role of looking after a family of aging in-laws, three sons, and husband and playing the role of ‘Maa’ at Manisha Mandir for destitute kids. Also, Dr. Agarwal is a literary personality who has published many of her poetries, novels and short stories along with her autobiography titled ‘Baat Swayam Bolegi.’
Mission Manisha Mandir
Manisha Mandir was started in the year 1985 which has changed its address more than three times and is currently situated at Gomti Nagar- Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The very first kid to be adopted was a deaf and mute girl who had lost her divorced mother during her birth. This very first adopted child was named as ‘Shivi.’ The second adoption was of two sisters whose mother also had died in an accident. The journey had started with many abandoned children making their way into the arms of new ‘Maa.’ As Dr. Agarwal, herself recalls many children were rescued from brothels too. She also remembers adopting a two-day-new-born baby and with a sense of gratification quoting “My desire for a daughter is satiated when these kids call me ‘Maa.’” She also accepts that the challenge of upbringing unknown children was not an easier one and she had to face a lot of hurdles in initial days of her endeavor.
Modus Operandi of Manisha Mandir
All the destitute children are adopted and admitted to prestigious schools as Dr. Agarawal believes that “Good Education alone can liberate girls from the hardship of society.” These kids are given facilities like Library room, Computer labs, Recreation halls, Dormitories, Craft workshops, Gardens, Badminton and Basketball courts. Also, children are given vocational training.
Once the children reach the age of 18, they are taught to lead independent life by fetching a suitable job. Many girls from Manisha Mandir are currently working as teachers, principals and other professionals in the society. Mandir also assists citizens to adopt children from their backyard legally. Interestingly to support itself financially, Dr. Agarwal has taken measure to rent a big function hall in their campus to others so that the needs of the organization is met.
Awards Recognitions and Current Initiatives
Dr. Sarojini Agarwal is awarded numerous awards, prominent among them being National Award for Children Welfare. Currently, she has taken initiatives for starting an academy for Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Beti Badhao (Groom Girl Child, Educate and Empower Girl Child). In this initiative, scholarships will be awarded to girls aspiring for higher education through Manisha Higher Education Scholarships.
This inspiring ‘Maa’ agrees that her body no more supports her to take newborns in her arms and nurture them. But the mind is still young to do her bit for the cause of destitute kids. Kalam Fan Club wishes that ‘TRUE-MOTHER’ persona like Dr. Sarojini Agarwal throng flood it with love of a mother.