The All Bengal Women's Union (ABWU) home in Calcutta has been operating for over 70 years and supported by Partners in Aid for more than 40 years. It is an NGO run entirely by volunteer women to rescue abused, at risk, destitute, abandoned and orphaned girls. Many do not even know their name or age. It is common for them to have no experience or memory of family care. Many need intensive therapy and rehabilitation in order to be able to begin the process of healing and leading 'normal' lives.
The girls live in dormitories and are provided with care according to their individual needs. Although their living standards are at very basic levels, ABWU attempts to provide a safe family environment as part of their efforts to integrate them back into society. They aim to provide all the emotional and academic support necessary to develop a healthy body, mind and spirit to become self-reliant and contributing citizens.
The Children's home provides not only shelter and support for these girls, but also provides basic education and a daily meal for children from nearby slums. It is hoped that most of these girls can lead 'normal' lives after they leave the home at around 18, however many remain in an 'After Care Home' to receive further rehabilitation and training.
Partners In Aid supports ABWU in two main areas:
- Sponsorship - We run a sponsorship program whereby PIA supporters can sponsor individual girls and receive reports on their progress.
- Projects - PIA provide funding for equipment, supplies and instructors for several vocational projects such as weaving, machine knitting and cutting and tailoring. PIA funding also contributes to such things as remedial tuition, special needs care and trips for children to experience life outside the Kolkata urban environment.
It is hard to imagine children in more need than these. It is particularly rewarding for us to know that we can assist ABWU in providing a safe environment and the tools necessary for them to become self-supportive and self-reliant young women.