Society

Love lessons from a mother

Sarada Petety leads an extended family of 34 girls into a hopeful future

It is the sound of giggles from young girls that welcomes Sarada Petety every day to the Public and Police Association (PAPA) for street children. Despite the rush to complete their chores and head to school, the girls make it a point to greet Petety when she arrives in the morning.

For more than 20 years, Petety’s life revolved around the scenic Andhra University campus. Initially, as a student and then as a scientist. Now, her life revolves around the hallways and dorms of PAPA home. Her days are spent helping the girls of the home in learning lessons. Be it a physics problem that a girl can’t solve or a life issue that has been giving a child sleepless nights, the lady is all ears.

As a caretaker , Petety is a mother-like figure for the 34 girls living in the home. “I don’t see it as a job. When you become a ‘mother’, helping children becomes a part of your life. Now I have an extended family,” says the mother of two. The 58-year-old scientist feels that her role at the girls home is not very different from the roles she essays at home.

“While bringing up my kids, I ensured that they get proper food, quality education and are well-mannered. That is exactly what I do with the children at the girls home,” she says. It is the satisfaction of mending lives and shaping them for a better future that keeps her going. The bigger challenge is to bring these children, who have so far lived a life on the streets, into mainstream society.

With experience gained over the years, Petety says that it takes a lot of time to dawn upon them that the Home would help them lead a normal life. “When orphan kids are brought here, they show high resistance.

They scream and shout because of frustration since they feel their freedom is being taken away. Many of them want to run away. So the first task is to convince them that they are safe here and that can happen only with love,” she says.

Petey’s days go by mentoring the girls and helping them in their daily chores. She tries to engage the children in various activities to imbibe a sense of camaraderie by being a part of their tuitions and helping them complete their homework.

The children spend their evenings listening to stories with morals of hope and survival read out to them. Petety feels that these reading sessions help them change their perspective of life.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 6:50:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/mother-of-all-bonds/article23852954.ece

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