‘Unique Home for Girls’ in Jalandhar, India is home of 60 sisters and their mother, Prakash Kaur Bibi.
Prakash Kaur is not biological mother of these girls but has made this ‘unique home’ for girls abandoned by their parents just because they were girls! She is a loving mother to all the girls who are actually orphans. Prakash Kaur Bibi thought of making Unique Home for abandoned girls as she was herself left on the streets when she was a baby some 60 years ago. Since 1993, she has given her life to the extremely noble mission of rescuing abandoned newborn girls and providing them a secure home and future.
Prakash Kaur Bibi says about the girls in her Unique Home “They are my own children. They are never made to feel like abandoned children.” In Unique Home, there are toddlers learning to walk, little schoolgirls and young women. It is much more than just a home for these girls. This is their family where they are loved and cared for. Bibi is always ready with open arms to accept any little girl who comes to this home.
Prakash Kaur Bibi has lovingly adopted girls who’ve been shunned by their own families.
Siya, an in-mate of Unique Home, was only a few hours old when she was found in a drain, covered in a black garbage bag. Reva was a newborn baby when her parents dumped her near the highway off Kapurthala. Razia and Rabiya were a few days old when they were found in the fields near Jalandhar. All these abandoned girls got shelter in Unique Home, where they live like a family. The girls who live in Prakash Kaur Bibi’s Unique Home are as young as few days old to about 19-20 years.
Prakash Kaur realizes the challenges that lie before her, but she has faith in God. “Yeh uparwaale ka kaam hai. Jab ussney yeh zimmedaari di hai to himmat bhi wohi dega. Jab aaj tak mujhe koi mushkil nahin aayee to aagey bhi nahin aayegi. Neki key kaam mein kabhi koi rukawat nahin aati,” she says. She is aging in terms of years but she still retains the strength to cook for the girls like their true mother.
In Unique Home when a new baby is placed in the cradle, an alarm rings alarming the staff that they have a new member to take care of. Girls are initiated in religons according to their belongings. So at Unique Home, girls belong to Hindu, Muslim and Christian and Sikh faiths.
Unique Home is like a big family where the elder ‘sisters’ take care of their younger sisters. The girls are sent to reputed English medium schools like Saint Mary’s in Mussoorie. Some young women of Unique Home have been married into suitable homes. But Prakash Kaur’s responsibility does not end with getting them married. She continues to keep a watch over the girls even after they are married. She fights for their rights if the in-laws prove to be difficult. Alka is a Unique Home girl. When her husband died just a few years after marriage, her in-laws grabbed all the property and expelled her out of the house. Prakash Kaur fought for justice. She finally got success in getting Alka her rightful share in the family property.
So far Prakash Kaur has got around 17 girls of the Unique Home married in decent families. Some of these girls were college grads before they got married, others school pass outs. Some of the girls have decided to remain unmarried and dedicate their lives like Prakash Kaur Bibi, to the service of Unique Home.
On 24th of April every year the children collectively celebrate their birthday. A 100-kg cake is cut and the day is full of fun for the girls. Every year, during the summer vacation the girls of Unique Home go on a trip to Darjeeling.
Prakash Kaur Bibi says, “We don’t want to give our kids up for adoption. People come to us but we refuse”.
Prakash Kaur Bibi herself does not know anything about her parents. She was left by her parents and grew up in a Nari Niketan. The most amazing fact of this home is that the children know that their real parents have abandoned them because they wanted a boy. This nasty truth has increased the girls’ desire to prove themselves. Sheeba, who studies in a convent school in Mussoorie, wants to be a doctor. “I want my real mother to know that the daughter she threw out of her life is well established. I want to be very famous. I want to prove to her that girls are not a burden,” she says. Sheeba has always secured good marks in her class. She wants toget admission in a good medical college. Lucy in Unique Home is 19 years old. She wants to be an English teacher. “I believe that education is the only way forward in this society which discriminates against girl children,” she says.
Punjab has one of India’s worst sex ratios. The percentage of women in the Punjab’s population keeps dipping every year. Men here are now looking for girls in different states for marriage.
Female foeticide is still rampant in India. Surprisingly it is more popular in the educated class and in higher strata of society. Those who are unable to know the gender of child before delivery, and are keen to have only a boy abandon their newborn angel like baby girls somewhere in garbage, bushes, river side, road side or even on railway tracks! Prakash Kaur Bibi is like a fairy mother to all such girls. She showers her love and kindness on all the girls who come to her Unique Home.Women like her are truly wonderful.