|School children in Imphal.|
A non-profit organisation based in Delaware’s Wilmington that helped India’s Roman Catholic nuns to build seven orphanages plans to fund two more such homes in 2017.
Homes of Hope founder and executive director Paul Wilkes said in Delaware on Monday that the group would help revive two orphanages in Manipur and Nagaland, run by the Franciscan Claristand Carmelite nuns, respectively.
The new centers will focus on children who were orphaned by AIDS and who may be infected with HIV.
Since its founding in 2006, Homes for Hope has built six orphanages for girls and a school, scattered across India. A seventh orphanage is scheduled to open soon in Bangalore.
"We began to reach out to see where the biggest needs were," said Wilkes, an author, Catholic leader and a 2016 recipient of the Star News Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wilkes found that tens of thousands of children in India have lost one or both parents to AIDS and many are born HIV-positive. Often, these children are shunned and marginalized.
"One little 6-year-old girl was forced to live in the corner of an uncle's house, given little food," Wilkes said. "By the time, she was rescued, she had a terrible head wound, crawling with maggots. There are so many, too many horror stories."
As with previous Homes projects, Wilkes made contact with two small communities of Roman Catholic nuns, one Carmelite, the other Franciscan Clarist. The sisters were trying hard to meet a grave need but were hampered by lack of resources.
At Imphal, in the state of Manipur, the Franciscan sisters had to halt construction and were left with an inadequate shelter. At Dimapur in Nagaland, 20 children were crammed into a small dormitory after their previous rattan hut became uninhabitable. This facility is the only orphanage registered in the region to provide medical care to HIV-positive youngsters.
Homes of Hope plans new structures for both facilities. At Imphal, plans call for housing 32 children, expanding later to 70 children. At Dimapur, the non-profit projects a facility for up to 50 girls.
Wilkes and his wife Tracy Wilkes plan to travel to northeastern India in January to visit the two sites and to assess specific needs.
"We know they'll need a building," Wilkes said, "but what else will meet their needs?"
Tentative plans include computer and language labs and study areas for the girls, to equip them for 21st century jobs.
Source: Star News online
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