Tara Homes for Children, NGO for street children in Delhi, India

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top Chef Masters at TARA Tots

Eleonora, culinary journalist and volunteer at TARA is our invited writer today.

It’s a Monday afternoon at TARA Tots.
When I arrive, the atmosphere is as usual: the children are all busy. They are playing, studying; some are helping to fold the clothes from today’s laundry.

Valérie comes every Monday at 3pm. She is very much awaited, with her bags full of ingredients, unknown tools, perfumes and surprises. Her arrival spreads a wave of excitation among the children and I, simple spectator, am impressed by her calm, her smile and her patience.
« What are we making today ? »These are the words by which the children welcome Valérie, each time she comes.
She started her cooking activity last April, with the littlies of the TARA family. She wanted to conduct an activity which would both please the kids and be recreational and educational.
She says: « Some do the right thing from the beginning. Others take longer. Others are voluntary and even bold when they have to cut ingredients, while some fear to use the knife ».

The children participate in the activity five by five. They always start by washing their hands, then wear their aprons. After that, they are ready to discover the recipe of the day. They follow Valérie’s instructions, which help them develop their skills: cut, crush, spread, cut with cookie cutters, etc… They develop their sense of feel through textures (sticky, grainy…) and their taste (sour like lemons, sugary like bananas). Once the activity is over, they help cleaning the table for the next group, in accordance with the good hygiene habits taught in TARA.
Valérie also tries to teach them that even if this activity is entertaining and pleasant, we should never waste food and that the final result, the taste itself, depends on the dosage of ingredients and on the proper way to mix them.

Valérie : « During the first sessions, when I was sharing the « left-overs » (extra biscuits or fruits), I was very surprised to see that they were pouncing on it and swallowed large mouthfuls. As if it could have been taken back from them. Now they are more balanced. »

Behind my camera’s lens, I watch them work, I discover the strengthened relationship, after 7 months of work together, between her and the children. The task is serious, calm and peaceful; the laughs, the disruptions of some of them, the quiet reminders and the fingers in the dough, greedily sucked in the end…

“Since April, I have been able to note several changes. Without attributing them solely to this activity, I see that some have made huge progress in their ability to do the manipulations asked. I show them how to handle the knife to cut, how to use the fork to crush… The nannies who used to help the smallest children in the beginning do not need to intervene anymore!”, says Valérie.
She tells me that the main difficulty to conduct her activity is that she cannot use the kitchen. The children are not allowed to enter the kitchen, so she has to choose recipes which do not necessitate oven or gas and it necessitates a constant effort to be creative.

The best chefs’ recipes are always jealously guarded but Valérie agreed to disclose two amusing anecdotes:
- « When I come and don’t say what we are going to prepare, there is the usual question: what are we making today? With their singing way to ask it. Then, they look at what I brought to guess the day’s recipe. I take four groups of five children, one after the other. One session was about preparing a cream out of fudge and crushed nuts, then spreading this cream on biscuits, as for a sandwich. The first group prepared this ‘seriously’. But I had overestimated the quantity of cream for the biscuits and everyone had a little leftover in their plates. I allowed them to eat this little extra (the size of a tea spoon) immediately. The news spread fast. The following children spread less and less cream, and left more and more in their plates. The last biscuits had a very thin layer of cream! »

- « My biggest surprise. For Diwali, I had them make almond paste to fill dry fruits: mix almond powder, sugar and a little drop of water to agglomerate everything.
And it is the little Anita, one of the youngest, immediately did the right thing, as if she had been doing this all her life! She barely soiled her fingertip, whereas all the others had their full hands greasy! »

TARA is extremely grateful to its volunteers for their daily work with the children. We will never thank you enough for your help and your contribution to the children’s intellectual and emotional development, which allows them to flourish and prepares them to become aware citizens and grasp the world with confidence, dignity and discernment.
Dinesh, Valérie, Fayyum and Khushboo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Soni's fairy-fingers

Soni, 10 years old, Tara Girl since 30th of March 2016, was able to undergo a surgery which will bring fundamental changes to her life. Burnt when Soni was a baby, her left hand had grown disharmoniously.
This particularity made the life of the little girl difficult and hindered her self-confidence. Thanks to her right hand and her agility, Soni could sometimes make everyone forget the difficulties she encountered because of her hand! However, when Safdarjung Hospital suggested a plastic surgery for Soni, she was restless with intertwined impatience and apprehension until the surgery’s date.

Soni was admitted to the Burns Ward of Safdarjung Hospital on 17th September 2016. The contractures formed due to her post burn deformity were removed from her left hand and a skin graft from her thigh was placed to fill the gaps.
For a whole week, Tara Girls’ staff took turns to be with Soni 24/7 and support her in this painful experience for which she showed a great courage.
Soni will have to wear a splint for 6 months and undergo physiotherapy sessions as soon as the plaster from her arm and the bandage from her thigh will be removed. Meanwhile, armed with an oversized plaster, Soni has an incredible new asset for the Tara Girls’ self-defence classes …
We would like to adress all our gratitude to our sponsors: Safdarjung Hospital and Engie Foundation who made Soni’s surgery possible.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bringing awareness about child abuse in India

Pascal Fautrat, Tara's Executive Director, interacted with the author Anita Nair for the launch of her latest novel: "Chain of Custody" at the French Alliance in New Delhi.
The novel tackles the issue of children’s rights and child trafficking through a crime investigation of her famous character Inspector Gowda, in Bangalore, to bring awareness about a world plague.

Have a look at the discussion:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A new heart for Vinay

After long delays, we are thrilled today to announce that Vinay’s operation took place on the 12th of August at Max Hospital. In January, a cardiologist from Max Hospital detected a missing pulmonary valve which endangered Vinay’s life. The valve replacement (also called keyhole surgery) was recommended as a lifesaving operation for Vinay.

This procedure is extremely new in India; actually Vinay is the first patient to benefit from this technology in all of whole North India! It is less traumatizing and risky than an open heart surgery, and is why we decided to wait despite the multiple delays for the valve’s delivery, so that Vinay could benefit from the most up to date technology available.

On 10th of August, Vinay was admitted to Max Hospital after the long awaited valve arrived. His operation went perfectly fine on 12th of August and Vinay was able to rest in his own bed in Tara Boys a few days after the successful operation! Follow up tests conducted in Max Hospital show that the new valve is working perfectly and that Vinay’s body is adjusting well too.
A huge THANKS to all of you who supported us and made this operation possible!

Vinay’s happiness and healthiness is the best result from these long weeks of waiting and all our gratitude goes to our wonderful sponsors during the journey. We hope that many others in North India will soon benefit from this new technology.

Due to his multiple disabilities, Vinay needs to fly his own wings in an adapted environment, which a program like Tara Big Birds is not able to provide him. Once recovered, Vinay (now 18 and aged out of Tara Homes) will therefore be welcomed by the NGO Muskaan, which provides vocational training, employment and harnesses the abilities of young adults with a specific daily care for their special needs. We want to express our admiration for Muskaan’s remarkable work and we are convinced that its team will give Vinay all the tools to flourish!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mr. Ambassador visits TARA

On June 24, 2016, Tara had the great pleasure in welcoming Sir Alexandre Ziegler, French Ambassador to India. For the event, all the children gathered in Tara Girls where Schweta (Tara Tots), Noorie (Tara Girls), Shyamu (Tara Boys) and Pascal (Executive Director) welcomed his Excellency and gave him a tour of the Home.

The Ambassador spoke about how he was a young boy when he decided to become a French diplomat and urged them to believe in their dreams. The children were at first overwhelmed by His Excellency but finally gained the confidence to ask some questions. Sikander (Tara Boys)) asked the Ambassador how he felt when he was appointed French Ambassador to India and shared his pride as he also knows the joy and responsibilities of representing the community which chose him to serve as a Child Representative in Tara Boys

At first overawed, the children finally gained confidence to ask their burning questions. Mr Ambassador remembered being their age when he decided to become a diplomate and exhorted them to believe in their dreams and projects. Sikander (Tara Boys) asked Mr. Ambassador how he felt when he was appointed French Ambassador in India and both shared a strong feeling of pride, since Sikander (former Child Representative in Tara Boys) knows the joy and responsibilities of representing the community which chose him! Shyamu, newly elected Child Representative as Sikander’s successor in Tara Boys, questioned the Ambassador about his feelings of such significant responsibilities, to which his Excellency replied that the trust he had in his team allowed him to share these responsibilities and calmly deal with them. Noorjahan (Tara Girls)then asked if he liked his job; a smile accompanied the positive answer of the Ambassador who said yes and shared with the children that he had wanted to work in India for many years. The Ambassador asked the children if they would like to be an Ambassador someday prompting several enthusiastic “MEs!” in the room.


The children later talked about their activities, values and rules in Tara Homes with the Ambassador. They praised the resolution of conflicts through speech and non-violence and the Ambassador reacted by stating “that is exactly what my job is!” He praised Tara’s guidelines and rules and told the children that “following the rules makes you a strong person”. Before leaving, the Ambassador shared his joy at the feeling of being “at home” in Tara and expressed his joy to have made Tara one of his first visits in India. His last words to the group were the resounding support of the French Embassy for Tara Homes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tara Big Birds: the takeoff of three young men!

In their own apartment and newly acquired independence, the Big Birds recently welcomed a new guest! Rakesh moved from Tara Boys to Tara Big Birds on the 24th of June and is now intensely studying for his board exam; Sunil worked for the holidays and applied for a Bachelor in Social Work; and Javed is now a hard-working and invested employee in Decathlon! Here is some of their feedback on freedom and responsibilities in Tara Big Birds, their past holidays and plans for the future …

Summer holidays are ending now, how did you spend them?
Sunil: "I went to the French Farm in Haryana and was doing farming there; I didn’t like this job because it was tough and demanded very hard work. My employer was not giving me any rest and scolding me unnecessarily without respect, so I quit. Then I started working for Tara."

What did you learn from this experience?
"I learnt how the farm works, how they produce, what kind of food to breed animals with. At least through this practical learning I know that I don’t want to work in a farm. Then in Tara, I helped Bimal (Tara Girls’ cook), assisted the administration staff and also worked as a driver, since I got my license two months ago! I was running everywhere since there were a lot of things to do but I liked it.
I also went home and spent time with my family in my native village. I was very happy to meet my family but I don’t like this place so much. Still, everybody was very proud that I passed my board exam!"

Was the board exam difficult?
"Yes! It is very competitive; unlike what we are used to in school exams. And the grades are important for our studies. Luckily I got 64% and thus passed!"

Javed: "I am working in a French Sports Company called
Decathlon as a sports advisor.
I advise the customer for the right sports products and explain
them about the benefits of each of them.
I also manage the delivery of our products to customers.
I learn a lot about management and the importance of the
customer’s satisfaction."
How did you get this job?
"I got this job by myself after going through a hard physical
test and interview."

Do you like your job in Decathlon?
"Yes, I like this job: it is very demanding in terms of time, energy,
knowledge and skills, but related to my passion for sports.
We also play different sports once we are done with our work.
The work environment here is best. Our integrity is respected."

Rakesh: "First I worked in Tara as an assistant accountant,
and after work I was studying. I was following up with the
logistics and accountancy: purchasing goods for Tara,
checking the bills, learning the procedure to take note of
every input and output of money...
Then on 10th of June I went back to my village for
my brother’s wedding, I had a lot of fun and I also helped
at home. When I returned I shifted to TBB.
In the beginning I was having some problems with
managing the shifting, moving all my stuff and
leaving the boys!
I started school a few days ago and I was happy to
meet friends; my teacher scolded me because she
missed me a lot, but she was happy to hear that now,
as a Tara Big Birds, I have a phone number and can be reached directly!"

You are preparing for the Board Exam this year, how do you feel about it?
"It scares me because I have to score a lot to get admission in a good college, I have to study a lot."

So how do you organize your days now that you have more independence?
"I wake up at 4, then I study, cook my breakfast and I take my bus to school. I come back from school at 3 or 3.30 depending on the traffic and I go studying in TB. And when I go back home in the evening there are some chores to do, cleaning and cooking that we didn’t use to do on a daily basis in TB!"

How is life in Tara Big Birds? Are you facing any difficulties? How do you handle your new responsibilities?
Javed: "Everything is best in TBB. We are very fortunate to be connected with Tara and supported even after we are young adults and given more opportunities to study further and explore other options for our life."

Sunil: "I was used to grow up with a lot of boys around me,
the feeling of loneliness is a little tough sometimes.
Managing everything can also be difficult, but it probably
takes some time to settle…
And I am happy that Rakesh moved in; as Javed works quite
far away I am glad to find a new company.
Maybe Rakesh can also help me in mathematics too,
he has different skills than me!
As we are expanding, we are now thinking of establishing
a planning of tasks, since we now have to do
all the duties by ourselves.
Tara is helping us in supporting the costs of the rent, our groceries,
our health care and school expenses, but we have to take care
of the housework all by ourselves, and the more people live here,
the more work there is!"

Do you miss Tara Boys?
Rakesh: "I am missing Tara Boys a lot, but especially the boys themselves, I don’t have so much time to visit them anymore and they really are like my small brothers so I do miss them a lot."

Javed: "Yes I do miss Tara Boys, specially Boys as I used to be one of them and now I am living separately. I was served in Tara Boys and I had to do nothing apart from my studies but now I am by my own managing different things in life…I would love to pay more visit to them but due to my new job it is hard to manage my time and go and see them."

What are your plans for the future?
Sunil: "Right now I am looking for colleges, I want to do a Bachelor of Social Work and work in the field of environment protection and health; I want to be involved in social work, but in other fields than children! Currently Rahul (Volunteer in Tara) is helping me to fill the online forms and applications according to what my interests and options are."

Rakesh: "I want to work in accountancy, after my board exam. Maybe next summer I can do an internship. Before that I have to dedicate myself fully to studies!"

Javed: "My future target is to get admission in a reputed Delhi College and study Tourism Management and French language, which interest me and will enable me to settle in life."

United in Tara Big Birds’ spaceship into the world of grown-ups, our young gentlemen delight by the diversity of their professional ambitions. Holidays have been rich in experiences and the Big Birds are now three ruffling their wings and pointing their noses out of the nest…