Their poor financial condition forced parents of most children of Arya Orphanage to send their wards to the children's home. In most cases, their mothers were the sole breadwinners — there were no male members — and did not earn enough to feed their children.
But little did these mothers know that their children would be subjected to sexual and physical abuse, leave them permanently scarred.
"My husband deserted me five years ago. With three daughters and one boy with special needs, I had no other option but to send two of my daughters to the orphanage.
But not even in my dreams had I imagined that one of them would be subjected to such assaults and die," recounted the mother of 11-year-old girl who died after being allegedly being raped over a period of time by another inmate of the orphanage. "Not wanting to risk the life of my second daughter I immediately got her back," she said.
The parents of a number of children from Arya orphanage live at Vijay Vihar in Rohini, a rehabilitation colony for slum-dwellers.
Most of the women living here earn a meagre Rs 1,000 per month by working as domestic help in nearby residential areas. This amount, they say, is grossly inadequate to take care of the entire family.
"There are times when we go hungry for days together. We don't want our kids to face such hardships. We hoped they would at least get three meals a day in the orphanage and clothes to wear. But we had not imagined that our kids will have to endure such torture," said Seema Ujjainwal, a resident of Vijay Vihar in north-west Delhi. Most parents of this colony had sent their children to the orphanage.
Parents alleged the authorities did not allow them to meet their children regularly.
(All names have been changed)