Gibi – Our Shared Dream

Shishur Sevay is a shared dream.  Gibi, aka Mrs. Jasvinder Kaur, will one day talk about her life, but for now I’ll say simply that she is a woman who retained her humanity through some terrible circumstances.  Gibi is committed to the care of orphans.  For several years she urged me to "do something of our own" but I was not ready.  And we had not defined what to do, whom to take care of, how to do it.  Over the last seven years, with her help, i had been sponsoring children in many schools around Kolkata.  I was here when Kolkata was Calcutta.  We also worked with orphanages which were really hostels, places where poor families put their children for education.

We are committed to the care of orphans because they have no spokespersons, no advocates.  They have lost their ties to family and community.  No one claims them as "mine."  They are mostly invisible.  Girls become absorbed into families as child servants.  Orphans who are found by police go into government institutions.  Younger children are adopted.  Our girls talk about being lined up so families could look at them for adoption.  "No one wanted us because we were too old.  They only take the young ones."  Well, Shishur Sevay takes the older ones, older being over five or six.  These girls are between about 7-12.  We don’t really know because the girls come without papers, histories — only what they remember, and those memories don’t include landmarks of age.

Gibi and her family live a few buildings away.  I used to stay with them until we opened.  We chose this home because it was so close.  From our roof I can see into the room where i used to stay.  I am mother to Gibi.  I am grandmother to her children, and i am mother in law to her husband, which is a very important role here.  We are all close.

At Shishur Sevay we are two mothers, "choto ma" (little mother) and "bhoro ma" big mother.   She is my succession planning.  She will run this place one day.  She loves the children, as i do.  In our different ways we understand their lives, their pain, their hopes, their rebellion, their losses, their mistrust, and their gratitude.  One of our "founding principles" is to have fun with our children, and we do.

If God (any God or Gods) were to appoint someone to make sure everyone in the world had food to eat, they should put Gibi in charge.  She cannot bear to see anyone hungry. 

Here Gibi serves as Vice-President of Childlife Preserve, and Superintendent of Shishur Sevay. Our children, and our staff, eat well.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rita BasuMallick
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 08:54:08

    Wish the best to Sishur Sevay!! Some day I would like to be an active member of the Sishur Sevay family.Till then I wish Michelle and Gibi with all my heart.


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July 2007
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