How it started
It all started in 2001 with the arrival of a girl, less than a day old. Her parents were planning to kill her; another girl … the seventh daughter in the family. A neighbour convinced the mother to give her the girl and brought her to a nearby hospital. Via a roundabout route, the child eventually ended up with Alexander and his wife Vetha (who also grew up in a children’s home). They found Helen, who was willing to take care of the little girl. Helen had recently left a convent because she wanted to work with children.
Soon there were more children and the room that Helen inhabited with the baby in Alexander’s house was far too small. They moved to an apartment in a rented house. The number of children grew, even though Helen and Alexander were very selective. They thought, and still do, that it was important to keep the children’s home small. They didn’t want a massive children’s home, like so many in India and similar to the one in which Alexander’s wife grew up, but a small house with personal attention.
Helen looks after the children, assisted by Bhuvana. They live with the children in the WINGS home. Helen and Alexander are both in charge. He lives 20 minutes away from the home and comes over frequently. With financial support from the Netherlands, WINGS now has a home of their own in a piece of land in the outskirts of Madurai. The new house is far more spacious; it has a separate dormitory for the girls and one for the boys. The house is surrounded by a large garden with mango trees. Fruit and vegetables are grown in the garden for their own use. The children love to play in the garden and help with watering the plants and trees daily. But as funding from the Netherlands stopped we look for local support.
The children go to the primary and high schools in the vicinity. Something to eat and drink await them when they get home in the evening. Then it’s time to relax: the big garden swing is the favourite. After having fun, it’s time to do homework. Helen and Bhuvana help the children with their questions and test them on what they’ve studied. At eight o’clock the school books close, dinner is eaten and then it’s off to bed because they have to get up early the next morning.
Contact with the family
If at all possible, the children return to their own families for the holidays. That could mean aunts and uncles, grandparents, and on occasion, to their mother or father if they can care for the child temporarily. WINGS also has days on which family members can visit the children in the WINGS house. In addition, Helen also maintains contact with the family by telephone.