Background

How Monimala came into being

    The river Hooghly flows on the north of the flat where this seventy plus couple came to relax after retiring from active work. The Hooghly is considered sacred and many rituals are performed throughout the year. Close to the flat, there is a large slum, which is occupied by Bihari migrants who came in search of jobs. They are coolies, rickshaw pullers and the remainder, unemployed. Their income is minimal and due to this, they are not able to take proper care of their children. As is usually seen among the poorer class, family planning is unheard of which results in more children than can be cared for.

    As Dr. Bani and Robin watched the children, they were shocked to see some of them jump in the river, hold their noses with one hand and go down to search in the mud for coins thrown by the devotees as a Hindu ritual. They came up with smiling faces when they were successful and ran to a shop to buy a piece of cake or sweets to fend off the terrible hunger that nagged in their little stomachs. When the children collect a good amount, they may turn it over to their mothers for the evening meal. Others swim in the river to retrieve bits of wood or bamboo from the idols to be used as fuel in the home.

    Looking at those children, scantily clothed, dirty hair, having no knowledge of shampoo or combs, with scratch marks or wounds on their bodies, Dr. Bani and Robin decided something must be done for them. This was the end of their plan of relaxing and enjoying their retired life.

    With the help of a few friends, they started a development center in their garage with 10 children. This was the beginning of Monimala in the year 2004.