61 orphans stranded at Victoria Memorial Home

Resident teachers have been given responsibility of 10 students each

Exams are over, school children are home and watched over 24x7 by cautious parents, more so in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closure of schools, colleges and coaching centres has resulted in several students from outside Hyderabad vacating their hostels and going home. But for 61 students of the Victoria Memorial (VM) Home Residential School in Saroornagar, there is nowhere to go despite the havoc created by the virus and the subsequent lockdown.

Ranging between six and 16 years of age, the children are orphans and do not have a place to call home except the school. “There were 865 students in all, and a majority of them have gone back to their villages and to relatives’ places in view of the spread of the pandemic. These children left in the hostel do not have anybody, hence it is our responsibility to care for them,” says Lakshmi Parvathi, principal of the school with full additional charge.

About 44 of the stranded students were sent here by the Women and Child Development department from their State Home and juvenile rehabilitation home.

Paucity of infrastructure

“Usually during holidays, we send them back to the respective homes. But this time, the department has refused to take them back, owing to paucity of infrastructure to protect them against the virus. We, too, did not insist because ultimately, children’s safety is important,” says Ms. Parvathi, asserting that utmost care and caution are exercised to protect the children.

The sprawling grounds of the VM Home are regularly visited by hundreds of walkers in the morning and evening. After the lockdown, the school management has made it clear to the walkers to stay back.

“We faced stiff resistance from the walkers, but with the help of the police we could restrain them to prevent infections,” says Ms. Parvathi.

Resident teachers have been given the responsibility of 10 students each, and the importance of social distancing has been drilled into the children’s minds. “We have ensured hand wash bells every 90 minutes, and enough distance among students during lunch and playing hour. We are also getting the students bathed twice every day, and keeping their dormitories clean. Door knobs are being wiped every now and then,” she related.

Class X students were given masks to wear while going for exams. Workers who clean the dormitories too have been strictly warned against working anywhere else, and it has been ensured that they stay close by.

Even the vegetable vendor keeps his delivery outside and leaves. A cook’s family has stayed back to prepare meals for the children which are left outside the dormitories, to be taken inside by the teachers.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 11:02:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/61-orphans-stranded-at-victoria-memorial-home/article31167476.ece

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