Orphans in Kashmir are turning into mental wrecks and needs an intervention to improve mental health, said Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi, chairperson of Aash --- the hope of Kashmir, on Thursday while holding a special camp for children in Srinagar.
"I have spent time in 30 orphanages and it’s easy to make out mental health of children. Many are turning into retards. Besides, child rights violations are rampant as these children are not provided proper hygiene and education," said Masoodi, a 26-year-old computer engineer turned social activist.
Masoodi claims children in several orphanages are being imparted just religious education and kept away from normal studies.
"These children are living a life of isolation in orphanages, which for strange reasons, are not in colonies but outskirts, away from normal residential colonies," said Masoodi.
She warmed of dangerous social ramifications if there is not an immediate intervention. "I suspect that these children once allowed to contact with the society might turn to criminal activities like drugs etc," said Masoodi.
Demanding a community-based rehabilitation centre for special children, Masoodi demanded that girls should not be in orphanages.
"At a time when girls are vulnerable at home, how can they be safe at orphanages?" asked Masoodi adding, "these girls require guardians and community support."
"Putting aside the fact that shelter and money is being provided, people need to come forward to spend time with these children," she said.
According to UNICEF, there are more than one lakh orphans in Jammu and Kashmir.
Masoodi has launched ‘Saen Awlaad’ programme where these children will participate in different mental exercises.
"We are organizing 11 day programme where these children will draw, do paintings and on-spot writing on different issues," said Masoodi.
The NGO is planning to get analysts and psychiatrists to do a study of what these children will do for 11 days. "We are coming up with a report as these activities will reflect mental health of these children to a great extent," said Masoodi.
She asked people to come forward and visit orphanages in their localities to see conditions of children and make the authorities responsible.
"These children do not need leftovers, worn out clothes but attention, affection and concern," she said.