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37 girls from Indian slums adopted by couple

37 girls from Indian slums adopted by couple


A couple who rescued and adopted 37 girls from one of India’s poorest areas are visiting New Zealand to share their story and raise awareness of the effectiveness of child sponsorship.

For over 13 years, Prasanna and Arpana Khaling of Siliguri , which is in the heart of West Bengal India, have rescued girls as young as two-years-old who were abandoned or sold by parents, orphaned, trapped in the sex industry, or lacked sufficient care from family members.

“We wonder sometimes in situations like these why these little hearts were ever born. Children in slums and gutters are treated like animals wandering around hungry and cold,” says Mr Khaling.

They found Pratiksha as a toddler wandering the streets of Panighatta. She was bare foot and dirty with torn clothes hanging off her little body.

“We saw her fighting over a piece of bread with her brother, but she lost, and started crying. She used to feed on food thrown to her by nearby soldiers.

“We found out she was living with her grandparents in a shabby, dirty, house on the side of the road that was falling down. The grandparents were both very ill with chronic tuberculosis and told us Pratiksha’s mother had abandoned her when she was four months old. We reached out to offer help. They were so grateful and we all decided Pratiksha would come and live with us,” says Mr Khaling.

Only one year later both of Pratiksha’s grandparents died from the chronic illness.

“When we took her home she was extremely ill. Her stomach was infested with worms, which could have killed her. But we loved her as one of our own and now she has grown into a beautiful teenager with a vision for her life; dreams and hope for a great future, like any teenager should have,” says Mr Khaling. “The powerful positive impact on Pratiksha’s life and our 36 other girls is a direct result of New Zealanders giving regular money.”

The Khaling’s partnered with Tauranga-based, International Needs New Zealand, in 2001 to build a large family home.

“Our home is called Sano Diyo Girls’ Home which means a Light House. We love the girls deeply and because of child sponsorship from kiwis throughout New Zealand, we are able to send our girls to a Christian school for a higher education.

“Some of our girls are now old enough to graduate and go to university. They want to be doctors, teachers and scientists,” says Mr Khaling. “Without the generosity of New Zealanders these beautiful girls would still be living in rubbish tips, or dead.”

Mr Khaling is joined by his wife Arpana, and they are travelling through New Zealand over four weeks sharing their story.

“While we are here we will meet many of our children’s sponsors, which will be so good,” he says. “We also have another 50 children from nearby slum areas of Mirik and Siliguri who we have identified as being severely deprived. We will be trying to get sponsors for them.”

The main host for the duration of their stay in Tauranga is Presbyterian Church, St Peter’s in the City, who have a long-standing relationship with the Khalings.

Anyone interested in hearing their story, or wants to learn more about child sponsorship, is invited to attend various meetings being held in Tauranga, Paeroa, Thames, Christchurch and Oamaru. Visit www.internationalneeds.org.nz for details.

ENDS

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