An infant is separated from her mother after a gang sold her off to another couple. Another baby is kept at the government-run Sishu Gruha, after being abandoned by her biological parents.. These are some of the many heartbreaking stories of the babies housed at the Sishu Gruhas across the State.
While the officials are celebrating ‘World Breastfeeding Week’ (Talli Pala Varotsavalu) from August 1 to 7, many orphans and semi-orphaned babies cry themselves to sleep in the Sishu Gruhas, with ayahs doing their best to take care of them.
Recently, a gang sold a female infant for ₹2.7 lakh to a woman in Pedavegi mandal of Eluru district. Police, who arrested ten persons in the racket, including the adoptive mother, have sent the biological mother to a Child Care Institution (CCI), as she was a minor.
The 16-year-old girl had delivered the baby at the District Headquarters Hospital in Eluru in June this year. The Eluru Two Town police arrested the baby’s grandmother and two other family members for selling the infant. Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) officers shifted the baby to a Sishu Gruha.
A couple of months ago, an infant was sold to a woman of Aswaraopeta in Telangana State, and the Chintalapudi police booked a case. In another incident, the Mangalagiri police busted a child trafficking gang, and rescued a baby.
“It is pathetic that there is a rise in child trafficking cases in the State, and many infants are left motherless at Sishu Gruhas and the CCIs,” Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (APSCPCR) Chairman K. Appa Rao said.
Expressing concern over the illegal adoptions, Mr. Appa Rao directed the WD&CW and Anganwadi supervisers, teachers and ayahs to be alert and take measures to check ‘child trafficking’.
“It is unfortunate that the babies who should be in the laps of their mothers are now living in Sishu Gruhas. The infants are deprived of mother’s milk, which is very unfortunate,” said an ayah of a Sishu Gruha in Machilipatnam.
Eluru Collector V. Prasanna Venkatesh, who visited the Sishu Gruha, was moved by the pathetic stories of the infants. He spent time with the infants and enquired about how they ended up there.
“I will donate beds, milk bottles, towels and toys to the Eluru Sishu Gruha from my own money, and will spend time with the infants,” Mr. Venkatesh told The Hindu.
In all, there are 13 government run-Sishu Gruhas and one NGO-run Sishu Gruha in the State, in which there are 85 children, WD&CW officials said.
“During the breastfeeding week, we will conduct awareness programmes for mothers on the importance of breastfeeding and nutritious value of the mother’s milk. Doctors and officers will participate in the week-long programmes,” said a WD&CW official.