AN orphanage based in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues and cares for child beggars has inspired a district councillor to found his own charity.
Harrish Bisnauthsing wants to raise awareness and funds in support of the Parmath Niketan Rishikesh, an ashram in the Haridwar region of northern India.
Coun Bisnauthsing, a computer engineer and father of four who serves on Stamford Town Council and South Kesteven District Council, has recently returned from a four-week trip to India with a party of his cousins from Mauritius. They were on a pilgrimage visiting various temples and holy sites.
Former Mayor of Stamford Harrish, who lives with his wife Pamela at Reedman’s Court, St George’s Street, was shocked by what he saw.
“I was taken aback by the amount of poverty there - but especially by these street children taken in by this particular ashram over the past three or four years. Some of these young children have been deliberately deformed so that they can be sent out on to the streets to beg for money,” he said.
He said the organisation literally picked these children off the streets and then fed, clothed, educated and guided them into a better life.
Along with members of his 11-strong party, he made a substantial donation while there but now, after speaking to the Swami in charge of the centre, he wants to establish a permanent link to help with its ongoing struggle to help the youngsters.
“Up to 150 children from all over India, but mainly from the north, are there, but they would like to extend their reach further to Delhi. This organisation is unique among the charities helping children in that it just takes them off the streets.
“Some are orphans, some have been abandoned and some are being used and abused - some have been discovered with no hands, for instance,” Harrish says.
He saw with his own eyes one little girl who had only one hand - the other having been chopped off and one very emaciated boy whose legs had been purposefully maimed so that he was unable to stand and walk properly.
“It’s absolutely heart-wrenching,” he said.
“But this place educates these children and teaches them to look after themselves instead of being exploited.”
He plans to collect money first and foremost, but possibly clothing and books at a later date and may set up a justgiving page if the response to his appeal justifies it.
Anyone interested in helping him should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01780 756000.