Determined to do more
mother and with fear written across his face, he was on the streets unprotected,” she recalls.
A bystander found Arun and tried to track down his mother, but was shocked to hear she couldn’t care for him and wanted him taken to the orphanage, where he now lives happily.
And children like Nandini, 14, whose mother spends all her resources looking after her sick husband and cannot care for her, need all the help Cornerstone can offer. While her mother was unable to afford the high cost of school fees and educational materials, Nandini is now receiving a good education in the happy home that is Cornerstone. When the lease on the current property expires next year, Natasha is determined to expand. Big Hug’s Big Build campaign aims to raise £60,000 to build a new orphanage in the countryside – so far £35,000 has been raised.
“We desperately need even more if we are to give these children the chance they deserve,” she says.
Even children who had such a tough start in life are now thriving. Children who were once malnourished are now growing to a healthy weight with the nutritious porridge mix provided for them by Cornerstone.
Selvi, now 13, is another child who was saved by the orphanage. Her father died when she was very young, and when her mother contracted TB and could not look after her, Selvi’s future looked bleak. Yet at Cornerstone, she’s grown into a bright, imaginative child who is eager to learn English as well as her native Tamil. “My dream is to become a judge in Coimbatore,” she says.
Others too have great ambitions. Manoj Kumar lost his parents to HIV when he was just 14, though Manoj is fortunately clear of the disease. “I was depressed for nine months after my parents passed away,” he told Natasha through an interpreter. “I didn’t speak to any of the other children at the home.”
Now he is excelling, finishing high school last year and starting a mechanics course.
After years of giving her all to help 30 children in South India make a fresh start in life, Natasha is delighted with what she has achieved – and determined to do more. “I’ve seen the children grow healthier, happier and more confident, which is simply wonderful,” she says. “This is my dream – I’m so proud to be helping to create a life for these children who once had so little.”
And after a terrible start in life, Muthuvel is determined to turn his life around. “In this stable environment, I have flourished in my studies and am aiming to continue in higher education,” he says. “At last I have a bright future to look forward to.”