From Thane to Poland: ‘Growing up in an orphanage shaped me into what I am’
For 28-year-old Bhavana Jaiswal, growing up in an orphanage turned out to be better, she says, as she might not have become the person she is today if she had stayed with her parents.
Today, she works in Poland as the project head of a multinational company. Jaiswal is in the city to get engaged to Andres Schaufelberger, 33, a Swiss national.
“I was seven and my sister Priyanka was six when our father left us. My mother could not raise us and sent us to Ma Niketan - Society of the Helpers of Mary orphanage in Thane. My brother was merely two years old at the time and therefore stayed with my mother,” says Jaiswal.
The first few months at the orphanage were difficult, Jaiswal admits. “When people came to celebrate their children’s birthday, there was always a feeling of longing and despair among us.”
She, however, decided to accept the situation and soon fell in love with the orphanage. “In a family, I would be loved by merely four or five people but here, there were 300 friends and many moms who loved us,” she says.
Being independent was imbibed at a very young age.
“The sisters always taught us that we have to face the world alone when we grow up,” she says.
As many people from across the globe would visit the orphanage,Jaiswal was introduced to different cultures. “I thought children these days go with their parents to see the world, in our case, the world came to us.”
Jaiswal was mature from a very young age, remembers Sister Reshmi of Ma Niketan orphanage. “She never broke rules. After coming home from school, she used to even teach the younger girls.”
When Jaiswal went to college, she topped in two subjects of her Class 12 exams. When the college wanted to felicitate her she took one of the sisters from the orphanage to the event and was overwhelmed by the appreciation of the people. “This was when I chose the academic path,” she says. At the age of 18, Jaiswal started working as a receptionist at a doctor’s clinic, along with pursuing her bachelors in commerce. “I then went to stay with my mother and decided to take care of my family. I also worked at call centres. Sisters from the orphanage provided financial help when I decided to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). After I completed my MBA, I joined a chemicals manufacturing company in Airoli. They recognised my talent and the company sent me to Poland, where I head one of their projects.”
On one of her official trips to Switzerland she met and fell in love with Schaufelberger, says a happy Jaiswal.
Jaiswal advises orphans to not worry about what other people have. “Focus on your life and believe there is happiness at the end for you too.”