Sunday afternoon, August 23, 2009; meeting on the Annual Report. A lady enquires, “What are the expenses covered under the category of establishment expenses as shown in Page 17 of this report card? We would like to see the detailed account of this expenditure which totals upto Rs. 89,131.00” She is a member of the managing committee for the year 2008-2009.
Now this is a meeting of a kind. It only reflects the transparency in the functioning of the Assam Sishu Kalyan Sadan, a home for orphaned and destitute children. One hardly comes across such annual expenditure reports in any NGO, be it in Assam, other states of North East India or be it any ‘national’ level social service undertaking. Perhaps such cross-questioning in public on the day of annual finance report is helping this organization sustain itself in a healthy way till date. It is interesting to note that the organization is not entitled to either the state or central government funds nor is it affiliated to any international ‘non-profit’ humanitarian organizations.
Established in 1958 in Sundarbari, once a village near Jalukbari in the outskirts of the erstwhile quiet town of Guwahati, Assam Sishu Kalyan Sadan (ASKS) has completed 50 years of glorious existence. With an urge to develop the physical and mental state of abandoned children, noted social workers late Amalprabha Das, late Rajabala Das, Padmashri late Malati Barua, Dr. Tilottama Raichoudhury, Padmashri Smt Hem Bharali, Smt Hema Kakati initiated to set up this Sadan for the underprivileged children of the society on a plot of land donated by late Kamakhya Ram Barua. Over the decades, the Assam Sishu Kalyan Sadan has been functioning as a Trust. The organization is not an undertaking of a certain individual or a certain family. As such, people from different walks of life have developed an attachment for this Home.
The Assam Sishu Kalyan Sadan had its share of bad times. But during such phases there emerged few people who helped the Sadan tide over the crisis. One of the persons who laid a strong foundation for the smooth functioning of Assam Sishu Kalyan Sadan is late Dr. Binoy Kumar Tamuli.
It is said that the ultimate success of a leader lies in his selection of an equally able successor. And Dr. Tamuly scored in that aspect too. He is succeeded by one of his most trusted associates Sri Nandeswar Sonowal whom he knew since his days in the Gauhati University. It doesn’t take much time to gauge the sincerity and dedication with which Sri Sonowal, the present President of Asam Sishu Kalyan Sadan is carrying out his responsibilities.
At present, there are 30 children and teenagers residing in the Sadan; 18 girls and 12 boys. Then there are 8 women and 3 male workers who have been engaged to maintain different activities of the Sadan. By the age of 18, the residents are expected to learn some craft so as to sustain themselves on their own. Those who perform well in their studies are helped to complete their formal educational degrees. Next they have to move out to face the world. Sri Sonowal said, “This is necessary to maintain vibrancy. If we keep them for a greater age, it would lead to stagnation. The entire thing has to be a vibrant process. Older children will find engagement, make their own living. Then only we can have fresh entrants into the Sadan and nurture them in their formative years.”