Shanti-Dham – Abode of Peace

The place has brought meaning to many little lives in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, nearly 50 kilometers from the City of Joy – Kolkata. Shanti Dham is an orphanage run by duo Sandip Biswas and Purnima Shaw.

Hawkers by profession, the couple has set an example for all of us by bringing together orphans, single parent children, and children in need under one umbrella, giving them a new home of hope. Currently they are parenting 16 children (13 boys and 3 girls).

Born in an economically backward family Sandip could not fulfill his dreams of pursuing higher education. His economic disability did not allow him to pay for school. He sold  fancy items and jewellery in local trains and embraced it as his profession to make ends meet. On the other hand, Purnima was better placed and was literate. She could speak and write in Bengali, Hindi, and English. But she also had to join the profession of her husband for a living. Sandip and Purnima not only shared similar profession, but both also experienced poverty stricken childhood.

Hence these peddlers always dreamt of giving their next generation a better future. Sandip was keen providing education for children. They came in contact with impoverished children and empathized with them. In no time they decided to bring the children back home with them. This is how Shanti Dham, came into existence. The home was registered in 2009 under Society Act. Two rooms 14-15 feet long with 3 toilets (1 is enclosed and 2 open) constitute the home. Although, Shanti Dham has water facility in place, but sewage issues still persist.

The residents start their day at 6bam in the morning. After washing up they offer prayers. Their morning Tiffin varies from dudh-muri (milk with puffed rice), dudh-chire (milk with flattened rice) to sattu. Lunch comprises of rice and mix vegetables.

Sandip and Purnima take extensive care of their children’s clothing. During festivals and other important occasions they gift them with new clothes. Apart from feeding and clothing them the couple has also taken special care of their children’s studies. All the children attend a nearby government sponsored school and have 2 visiting tutors at home. They learn painting, practice indoor and outdoor games as well.

Even after cutting down all the miscellaneous expenses the monthly expenditure is close to Rs.32,000-35,000. Due to lack of funds, the boundary wall of the home is still not constructed. This has become major issue as stated by the founder of Shanti Dham, Purnima puts in “When we go out for work, what makes us tense is the boundary wall issue. Our children play in the open area. It’s not that safe”. Another major concern of this home is proper medical facility. “We have a local doctor, who takes care of day to day issues. But till date we could not find any experienced doctor” highlights Sandip. “We have received some help from 24 Ghanta, and Capgemini, but need more financial aid to bring up our children. We will try to give them all the facilities as they grow up. We don’t want them to be a travelling salesman, but a bright future is all we hope for them. Need your help” say the home owners. “Even if 127 million people of the country donates Re.1, we can have Rs.127 crore, what else we need!”  Purnima says with excitement.

The couple is going above and beyond to bring up the children of the society. The only help we all could do is to stand by them, help them, and be with them. Our little help can give the children of Shanti-Dham a brighter and better tomorrow.

N.B. Those who wish to help the couple building the home can contact News Minute for further details.

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