Alice of the Real World

As a child, we had read the classic, “Alice’s Adventures in the Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. But in real world, what is this wonderland? It depends from person to person. It may vary from a fantasy land to an exotic garden, or a mountainous region. But what for children, who have no home, no food and no basic education?

For such children, a wonderland was created by none other than Alice, i.e. Alice Thomas.

One day this Alice spotted a rabbit and followed him, but she heard some screams from a corner and rushed to that spot. She was stunned to see his rabbit (a boy of 10 years) writhing in pain due to beating by his abusive parents for not bringing home enough money to buy food and booze.

That was the turning point for the 21-year old Alice. It led her to her own wonderland. She decided to take him away to provide food, shelter and education. After a few days, that boy brought two of his friends to Alice’s home. She helped them get a basic education and vocational training.

It was the beginning of her journey to wonderland. She decided to dedicate her entire life to the upliftment and rehabilitation of deprived and downtrodden children by launching an NGO, “Udhavi Karangal” (Helping Hands) in 1991 in the suburbs of Puducherry.

She started with a boys’ home for orphans, beggars, street urchins, ragpickers or those who needed food and education. The number of children swelled in no time and she had to expand the facility. She later also set up a girls’ home.

Initially it was difficult to enrol children due to protests from their parents, who considered them as earning hands. For children whose parents didn’t cooperate, she offered home schooling and made them complete their education through correspondence.

The government schemes and policies later proved to be of much help to her. Her organisation is government funded, with additional funding coming from self and her well-wishers for provisions.

Such is her dedication to her children that she and her husband decided not to have any themselves, as they already had 13, when they got married.

She is now 53, and her ‘wonderland’ is functioning for the last 32 years. As a part of Udhavi Karangal, she now runs a primary school too and is fully equipped to help children with their post graduation and beyond.

The first 10-year boy she met is now an autorickshaw driver and a father to a hockey player undergoing trainingbat Sports Authority of India. Many of her children, are now working as engineers, nurses, paramedical staff, child counsellors, musicians, and social workers. One who did MSc and M.Ed is the principal at her school.

She is Alice of the real world, not less than the wonderland.


–Kaushal Kishore

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63 Comments

    1. You have rightly stated that she was not afraid, as she had to face resistance from poor and alcoholic parents. We certainly need more and more such empathetic saints to make this a better world. Thank you, Nancy!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you, Kaushal, for the story of such a wonderful woman!
    It brought the memory of my father’s work when a few of his pupils contacted me quite recently in England to ask for help in writing a book about him. They were the poor children from the villages that had mines buried in fields by the retreating armies of Nazy Germany and Russia. Those children lost limbs and without help, they would be sitting by the roadside begging. Now, old people, after leading successful lives, wanted to immortalize him and his work. My father made sure that they all have medical treatment as he was a doctor, and had the best education, many going to the university.
    The world is a better place for such heroes.
    Thank you again, Kaushal, for the story and the pictures.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had read about your father’s kindness, and how he had faced so many problems in helping his people, not only as a doctor, but also as a human being. Certainly it will be a great tribute to him, if a book is written on him, that will also encourage others to follow suit.
      You have inherited this kindness from him. Like father, like daughter. Thank you, Joanna, for talking about this great man here, which is so relevant to this post. Much much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Kaushal, for your kind comment.

        The book is on my shelf, and they also organized the almost meter-tall. statue of my father in the hall of the rehabilitation hospital which is still working.

        Joanna

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s really nice, Joanna, but when will it see the light of the day? Do you have the picture of that hall with statue of your father?

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      3. The book is now out of print but was sold for charity in a few thousand.
        The author lost both legs, and he was hidden from everyone by his ignorant parents. He had to crawl on the floor and his back become distorted.
        When by chance he got to my father’s place, a palace bought with money from Caritas, he was told that in no time he would be like other children, walking (artificial legs), playing, and learning. He went to university and had a good life
        with a wife and a child. When he wrote to me, he said we have to do those things now, because they are all getting old (seventy-eighty).

        I have the picture of the one who organized the statue in the hall, Fryderyk,
        who become an academic and then a financial head of a shipping company, traveling around the world. He lived for four years in Glasgow and his child
        born there has a British passport and a Polish one.
        I will dig out the picture and email it to you. The children adored him and called him father. He understood them and had an affinity with their feeling of loneliness and not belonging to society.
        This is what he gave them back.
        Apology, for such a long answer but it is so much to tell.

        Joanna

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Today morning I read this comment and kept thinking of your father and his generosity. He was no less than Alice I talked about yesterday. You’re fortunate, Joanna that you are a proud daughter of such a great person. I think if you write a book on him afresh, it will be received well.
        Thank you, Joanna, for taking your time to give a detailed account for my benefit. Very much appreciated!

        Like

  2. Oh, what a grand lady. I read about the children in Nairobi who buy air plane fuel to sniff because they are orphans and they cant beg enough for food. It’s quite disturbing. A lady there also started a place for orphans. It’s divine inspiration and marvelous. Thanks for this. Hope is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had read about those zombies. But such a precarious position is a blot on our society and humanity. That’s why we need angels like Alice, whether it’s India or Kenya. Thank you, Sasha, for sharing your realistic thoughts.

      Like

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