Valsalya Bhavan - Home of Compassion, is a home for girls who have been rescued from dangerous situations on the streets, based in Kochi. It was established in 1997, and helps girls in situations of risk, such as sexual abuse, begging, child labour, abandonment etc. The girls are welcome to stay, find their own roots and build up their life. Providing safety and being there for them when needed is the top priority at Valsalya Bhavan.
Most of the girls have been traumatised by some terrible things, and the loving atmosphere of the orphanage gives the girls a sense of stability and family for the first time in their young lives. One of our girls has been at Valsalya Bhavan for over 8 years. Her father abandoned the family soon after she was born, and her mother sold her for Rs100 (£1.20)
At the age of 5 she was sold again to another family. There she was forced into hard labour and locked in a dog kennel when the family left the house. She is now happy and settled at Valsalya Bhavan and says 'I am so happy to be here. I go to school and feel loved by my friends. I have a family today. I feel free.' All the girls can tell a similar story.
After visiting the home in 2007, it was a natural progression for Kerala Crafts to support the bhavan from sales of its fair trade products. The original home was a temporary, sub standard building, with cramped facilities and subject to flooding during monsoons.
I set about helping to raise funds in the UK to provide a new, permanent, purpose built home for the rescued girls. This involved much letter writing, emailing and organising various events, all of which raised a total of £30,000. With funding also from India, building began in 2012 and the new home was officially opened in May 2013. This has enabled more girls to be given protection from dangerous lives on the streets.
Some of the girls have UK sponsors, who contribute to their day-to-day expenses, such as food, clothing, education, travel, toiletries, medicines etc. Many are still in need of sponsors.