SHARAN GHUMAN

Trustee

What’s Your Name and Where Are You Based?
Sharan Ghuman, Slough, Berkshire.

When did you become a Trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home (Punjab)?
24th October 2014

What Is Your Area of Expertise?
Having worked in the Home Office for the past 15 years, I have been fortunate to have been involved in working within different sectors within UK Border Agency. I spent 10 years working in Immigration enforcement. An extremely varied role dealing with all matters relating to the arrest and return of Illegal persons in the UK. During this time I also gained experience working with victims of trafficking and headed up the child protection team. Four years ago I headed to Heathrow to work with Border Force, where I Currently manage a joint Customs and Immigration Team. In the past year I have also taken on the role of Safeguarding lead within my command ensuring all cases involving children and vulnerable adults are dealt with appropriately by BF.  I am also a Governor at my children’s school, where I also have the responsibility of all Safeguarding issues.

How Did You Become Involved In Unique Home?
I first became aware of Unique Home for girls in the summer of 2013. Being the eldest of 3 sisters and a mother to two daughters myself, the story of Bibi Prakash Kaur and the wonderful work she is doing in raising unwanted and abandoned girls, really struck a cord with me. I knew then that I wanted to do so much more. Like they say, the rest is history. I have been involved with various fund raising and awareness projects for Unique Home over the past year. In April 2014 I was fortunate enough to visit the Home in India and meet Bibi and the amazing girls.

Tell Us Something Unusual About Yourself
Wow this is a hard one. I’m pretty much an open book, what you see is what you get but I guess one fact that not many know is that I love to write. I have written a few short stories, not published. I would like to pursue this passion at some stage.

Contact info
07514 747269

Email Twitter

REENA THALIWAL

Co Founder & Trustee

What’s Your Name And Where Are You Based?
My name is Reena and I live in Leicester.

When Did you Become a Trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home (Punjab)?
I became a trustee in 2009.

What Is Your Area of Expertise?
I am a Practice Manager at Thaliwal Bridge Solicitors (also the UK Unique Home registered address). I wouldn’t say that this is my area of expertise as I ‘fell’ into the role after being made redundant 7 years ago from Norwich Union where I worked in the Complaints Department (as you can imagine it was a very busy and eventful department).
How Did You Become Involved In Unique Home?

Ranjit and I originally did some fundraising for MIND by arranging a small dinner dance. We realised that this was something we enjoyed and decided that we would like to get involved in a charity in India perhaps working with children. It was around this time that both our mothers took a trip to India and on the recommendation of another family member went to see Unique Home. We obviously did some research and felt that this was the charity for us.

Tell Us Something Unusual About Yourself
Well, I have something in common with the queen! Like her Majesty, I have 2 birthdays. I was born in India in December but the local registrar didn’t manage to attend to register my birth until May and simply put down the date of his attendance as the date of my birth. But who’s complaining as I am now 5 months younger.

How Can We Get In Contact With You?
The best way to contact me is reena@thaliwalbridge.co.uk. My telephone number is 07825 560 395.

Email 07825 560 395

DEBBIE SANGHERA

Trustee

What’s Your Name And Where Are You Based?
Debbie Sanghera. I am based in Solihull.

When Did you Become a Trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home (Punjab)
2012

What Is Your Area of Expertise?
I’d have to say withing the Financial Industry, having worked in it for many years with a vast amount of experience and knowledge from various roles.
Presently working for a Financial Company in Birmingham City in Marketing as a Marketing Production Executive.

How Did You Become Involved In Unique Home?
Having taken on several  fund raising activities, most of them physical, such a marine challenge, abseil and skydive to raise funds for various organisations.

I was travelling to India in 2009 and thought I’d start investigating Orphanages for girls in Punjab. Following my research conversations with Ranjit led to me visiting the Orphanage, I was rather  overwhelmed by Bibi Parkarsh Kaur’s home the way she runs it, the warmth, care and love towards the girls and their happiness led me to want to become involved with fund raising and raise awareness.

Tell Us Something Unusual About Yourself

I was born in Birmingham moved to Australia, Devon and now back to Birmingham after 25 years!

How Can We Get In Contact With You?
My email address is debsang@hotmail.com  My mobile is 07732368603

Email 07732368603

TOM HARRIGAN

Co Founder & Trustee

What’s Your Name And Where Are You Based?

Tom Harrigan. I am based in Glenmavis near Airdrie, Scotland. UK.

When Did you Become a Trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home (Punjab)?
2009 at the formation of the Charity.

What Is Your Area of Expertise?
Although ‘retired’ I continue to be heavily involved with several 3rd.  Sector organisations who specialise in such issues as, Child Protection (Prevention of Abuse amongst Minority Ethnic Children), Emergency International Relief and Development, championing the issues affecting Refugees and ‘Asylum Seekers’, organising multi-cultural events utilising the visual and performing arts of artiste’s from Asia and the Middle East.

How Did You Become Involved In Unique Home?
In 2001 as part of a Senior UK Police delegation to New Delhi, India I was invited to the Punjab by one of my Indian hosts to visit the police training academy in Punjab.  During my stay in Jalandhar I was taken to Unique Home where I was introduced to Bibi Ji. On my return to UK I immediately set about raising awareness amongst my many friends in the Sikh community in Glasgow of this little piece of heaven in the world’s largest democracy.

Tell Us Something Unusual About Yourself
On retiring at the rank of Chief Inspector in 2005 after 30 years service with Strathclyde Police, I was appointed to the position of Inter Faith Liaison Officer with Glasgow City Council. This post was the first of its kind in UK. My primary role was to foster good relations between the ‘main’ faith communities across the city and to act as a conduit between the Council and said faith communities. On a more personal note, I love getting out of bed at 4:30 every morning and having a little quality time to myself before the rest of the UK awakes. It also allows me to email my contacts whose time zone is behind and ahead of UK.

Email +44(0)7778745630

RANJIT THALIWAL

Co Founder & Trustee

What’s Your Name and Where Are You Based?
My name is Ranjit Thaliwal and I was born in Leicester and continue to live here at the present time.

When did you become a Trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home (Punjab)?
I became a trustee of UK Friends of Unique Home in 2009, as my wife Reena and I became involved in Unique Home and then the other trustees decided to form a charity in the UK.

What Is Your Area of Expertise?
I am a Solicitor and qualified in 1993. I deal with an unusual area, mainly mental health law. Essentially we represent patients that are under a section and detailed in psychiatric units within the Midlands. We provide legal advice and representation to them in circumstances when they are seeking a discharge and therefore, it is a really interesting area of work. We deal with many people who have had to endure very difficult life events and circumstances. Mental health problems unfortunately, have no boundaries and effect people from all backgrounds, ages and circumstances. It is a really challenging yet rewarding area to work in, to support these people.

How Did You Become Involved In Unique Home?
My wife Reena and I both decided that we wished to support a charity based in Punjab, close to our respective, original villages. Unique Home is based in the same district, a very short distance away, and via family we were able to find out more about the home and make that connection, as well as visiting the home for ourselves. From my point of view, once we visited the home the connection was so strong and the work done by them is so good, that we were committed to support them going forward and hopefully, get them into the new home at some point in the near future. A right to live should not depend on whether you were born as a boy or girl and so the home continues to do life saving and life changing work.

Tell Us Something Unusual About Yourself
I am a solicitor and have been given the honour of being president of the Leicestershire Law Society, running from May 2013 through to May 2014 and therefore it will be a very interesting year ahead. I really enjoy following sports, in particular Leicester City Football Club, as well as watching Aston Villa, a team that my son supports. We are also big cricket fans, especially as far as India is concerned.

How Can We Get In Contact With You?
My email is ranjitst@hotmail.co.uk. Please email me and I will be happy to speak on any fundraising or initiatives that you may wish to pursue for Unique Home.

Email Twitter

MEENA MORJARIA

Trustee

What’s your name and where are you based?

Meena Morjaria, Leicester

When did you become a trustee?

In 2013

What is your area of expertise?

Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 10 years, my expertise lies in account management, developing strong professional relationships within my sector, maximising business opportunities in specialist medical fields and working in partnership with the NHS.

My passion, drive and motivation in my career extend to helping those less fortunate. I have supported other charities in the past and I have been involved in many large fundraising events and also helped grow awareness of those in need of support.

How did you become involved?

I became aware of the home through Ranjit and Reena (co-founders and Trustees) and had attended one of their charity fundraising events. It definitely struck a chord with me, being female and also having roots from Punjab. I truly commend the charity for bridging the gap between the Bibi Prakash Kaur Ji and those in the UK who want to help. There are so many worthy charities out there and it’s such an individual choice to who you give your time and money to.  For me, it’s the dedication by the home itself, my fellow trustees and knowing what a difference we make to these girls’ lives that drives me to support this cause.

Tell us something unusual about yourself?

I have been interviewed by the BBC…not as glamorous as it sounds!!  It was at a family wedding for a well-known cultural programme aired on Sunday mornings.

How can we get in contact with you?

For enquiries, please use the ‘contact us’ form on the website

Nita Ambani expresses reverence towards Parkash Kaur, founder – Unique Home for girls, Jalandhar

Her philanthropic endeavours are in-famous tales of social benevolence and humanitarian being, and once again Nita Ambani has shown that her support for the betterment of society

Mumbai, Maharashtra, February 24, 2012 /India PRwire/ — Her philanthropic endeavours are in-famous tales of social benevolence and humanitarian being, and once again Nita Ambani has shown that her support for the betterment of society, its people and those who strive to make a difference in the community is a never-ending quest and a life-long purpose. Visiting Unique Home, a home for destitute girls in Jalandhar, Nita Ambani was touched by the greatness, the efforts and the work done by its founder ParkashKaur, whom she now reverentially refers to as the ‘mother of 57 girls’.

ParkashKaur, a simple lady of strong virtues and courage, has been running the home for destitute girls for more than 20 years now.Ever since institution of Unique Home in 1991, ParkashKaur has taken in girls who have been abandoned and has looked after their well -being and rearing as her own daughters. Having been an abandoned girl child herself, ParkashKaur understands the plight and helplessness of young girls, and hence she has dedicated her life to the difficult yet noble mission of rescuing unclaimed new-born girls and abandoned girls, and giving them a secure home and future.Nita Ambani had previously met Parkash when the latter was being conferred with an award at Real Heroes Award function organised by CNN IBN for her humanitarian deeds, in Mumbai last year. Intrigued and inspired by the courage of this brave woman, Nita decided to pay a visit to the home on Thursday. “After coming here, I am not only touched but feel humbled by the simplicity and genuineness of ParkashKaur, who runs this home with the help of philanthropists in India and abroad”, exclaimed the first lady of corporate India.

Unique Home has two set ups and Nita Ambani visited both the set ups. She spent time with all 57 girls at the shelter, interacting and chatting amicably with them. The girls presented two dance numbers for their guest and even took her to the stage for a little Dandia.

Movedby the warmth and love she received from the girls at Unique Home, Nita Ambani fell short of words and remarked that she has been deeply touched and impressed by the confidence ParkashKaur has been able to bestow in every girl. “She is a lamp of hope and a real hero, and coming here has been a great experience,” she said.

Notes to Editor

Nita Ambani is the Founder-Chairperson of the Dhirubhai Ambani International School. She is also the wife of industrialist Mukesh Ambani.

Source/Permanent Link: http://www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/other/20120224113011.htm

Unique Home Charity Dinner & Dance 2nd Nov

Dear Family & Friends,

As you are aware Harinder & I are Trustees for UK Friends of Unique Home. A UK based charity that supports Unique Home in Jalandhar. The Home takes in unwanted abandoned girls regardless of their religion or creed and helps them have the life that was denied to them by their parents.

We visited the home in April and the work they do is simply amazing. Bibi Parkash Kaur, the founder of the Home who herself was abandoned, is a ray of hope in Punjab.  Rather shockingly, it is Punjab which currently has the highest rate of female foeticide and infanticide.

We are committed to raising as much awareness and funds for them as we can and to do this we have organised a Dinner & Dance in Wolverhampton on Saturday 2nd November. All details are attached on the eflyer. This is to be a family event to be enjoyed from the eldest to the youngest!

Everyone involved in the event have volunteered their time and services including Lembher Hussainpuri who has waived his fee. We decided to hold this event in Midlands because of a huge amount of personal support and also because of the large Punjabi population there. It is so important to bring the work of Unique Home to the attention of those that visit Punjab often as we want them to go and see for themselves what Bibi ji and Unique Home are doing.

The timing of our event is on Bhandi Chorr Diwas & Diwali weekend. At a time when Sikhs & Hindus celebrate the triumph of good over evil, please join us to help those that are tackling the current evil of abandoning girls for no reason other than their gender.

If you haven’t already please confirm how many tickets you would like. Where possible we are trying to sell tables of 10 to one individual who is then responsible for filling that table…makes our lives that little bit easier! But if you’d like a couple of tickets that is fine too! Tickets are £35, including a champagne reception,  full sit down meal, entertainment, auction & raffle!

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the 2nd.

Kind regards,
Rupinder & Harinder

PS: Please do forward this email to anyone you think maybe interested in attending and also any businesses that want to get involved in sponsoring the event!

UK

Mother Hope: Prakash Kaur and her Unique Home for Girls

Source

The woman behind the home is Prakash Kaur, who was herself left on the streets as a baby 60 years ago. Since 1993, she has dedicated her life to the noble but onerous mission of rescuing unwanted and unclaimed newborn girls and giving them a secure home and future.

Today, Unique Home for Girls has 60-odd residents who call Prakash Kaur mother. “They are my own children,” the lady says. “They are never made to feel like abandoned children.”

As we walk around the home, it is easy to see that her claim is quite well-founded. Even as her ‘family’ expands and her responsibilities grow, Prakash Kaur’s fount of maternal compassion shows no signs of drying up.

She has touched the lives of many who’ve been cruelly shunned by their own. Siya was only a few hours old when she was found in a drain, wrapped in a black polythene bag. Reva was a newborn when her parents decided to dump her near the highway off Kapurthala. Razia and Rabiya were just a few days old when they were discovered in the fields outside Jalandhar.

These girls have all found shelter in Unique Home, where they now enjoy the real family experience that their pitiless parents chose to deprive them of simply because of their gender. The girls who live here range from the age of four days to 19 years.

Unique Home is run by a trust named after Bhai Ghanayya Ji, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh. The trust aims to raise these children as healthy individuals and arm them with all the social skills and educational qualifications that they need to face life on their own terms. The girls could not have found a better person than Prakash Kaur for the job of providing them with support and succour.

Most of Unique Home’s inmates arrive here as hapless, barely alive foundlings. So they have no recollections of how they are brought here. But those that have grown up in the life-affirming warmth of this home are proud that they belong here.

Under Prakash Kaur’s care and tutelage, these girls are all well adjusted individuals willing and able to take their rightful place in a society that still seems to harbour a strong aversion to children of their gender.

Prakash Kaur is acutely aware of the challenges that lie before her, but she has faith. “Yeh uparwaale ka kaam hai. Jab ussney yeh zimmedaari di hai to himmat bhi wohi dega. Jab aaj tak mujhe koi mushkil nahin aayee to aagey bhi nahin aayegi. Neki key kaam mein kabhi koi rukawat nahin aati,” she says. She is obviously getting on in years but she still retains the strength to make chapatis for all the inmates of the home three times a day and seven days a week.

The first thing that strikes one in Unique Home is a small hatched box near the entrance. It is called the “cradle”. Flip open the hatch and you see a shelf built into the wall. When a rescued child is placed on the shelf, it sets off an alarm that tells the staff that they have a new girl to take care of. When it comes to christening the new arrivals, names are drawn from all the religions of India. So at Unique Home, girls have Hindu, Muslim and Christian and Sikh names and faith has no restrictions.

Although we visited Unique Home without any prior notice, Prakash Kaur ensured that we were made to feel at home. Not surprising at all coming from a lady who has dedicated her life to dispelling a bit of the darkness that engulfs Punjab, indeed all of India. The girls brought to Unique Home grow up with a sense of belonging. This is the only home they know.

For a home that houses 60-odd girls, the place looks a bit too small. The rather cramped space has limited amenities for the girls, including three small rooms that serve as bedroom, dining area and playroom, in addition to a small kitchen and an office for visitors.

The room that is meant for infants has three big cradles. Each has four to five babies sleeping in them. Unique Home has now acquired a new site and expansion plans are in place.

But living space is the least of the home’s problems for the hearts here are big. This is like a huge family where the older girls take care of the younger ones. We are told by the founder that the girls go to good English medium schools like Saint Mary’s in Mussoorie. A few have since been married into suitable homes. But Prakash Kaur’s responsibility does not end there.

She continues to keep a watch over the girls even after they are married. She fights for their rights if the in-laws prove to be difficult. Take the case of former Unique Home inmate Alka. When her husband died prematurely, her in-laws grabbed all her property and threw her out of the house. Prakash Kaur intervened and fought tooth and nail. She eventually managed to secure for Alka her rightful share in the family property.

So far Prakash Kaur has organised the marriages of 17 of the Unique Home inmates. While a few of these girls graduated from college before they got married, the remaining tied the knot after passing out of high school. However, several of the older girls here have decided not to marry and instead dedicate themselves, like Prakash Kaur, to the service of Unique Home.

April 24 is a very special day at Unique Home. It is the day when the children here collectively celebrate their birthday. A huge 100-kg cake is cut and the day is marked by much merriment. That apart, once every year, during the summer holidays, the inmates of Unique Home go on a trip to Darjeeling.

On our visit to the home, we ate lunch with the children. The food was simple but delicious: rice, chapatis and aloo gobhi. Prakash Kaur made fresh chapatis for all the 60 children.

“We don’t want to give our kids up for adoption. People come to us but we refuse,” says Prakash Kaur. Although she did not give us any specific details, she told us that she knows of many cases in which adopted girls have been ill treated.

Prakash Kaur herself has no idea who her parents were. She was found abandoned and grew up in a Nari Niketan. She describes the work she does today as “the lord’s work”.

Asked if she ever faced any mistreatment in the Nari Niketan where she grew up, she smiles and says: “I will never allow my daughters to work as maids anywhere.”

The most essential part of this home is that the children are aware of the fact that their real parents have abandoned them because they are obsessed with boys. But this poisonous truth has only strengthened their resolve to prove themselves. Sheeba, who studies in a convent school in Mussoorie, wants to be a successful neurosurgeon.

“I want my real mother to know that the daughter she threw out of her life is well established. I want to be very famous. I want to prove to her that girls are not a burden,” she says. Sheeba has always stood first in her class with A-plus grades. She is determined to make it to a good medical college.

Lucy is 19 years old. She wants to be a professor of English. “I believe that education is the only way forward in this society which discriminates against girl children,” she says.

Punjab has one of India’s most skewed sex ratios. The percentage of women in the state’s population keeps dipping every year. A growing shortage of marriageable girls has forced men here to find partners in different cultures and states.

“When French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni came to India, they prayed for a boy. I was shocked. I used to think that Westerners treat both genders equally. He could have asked for a girl. It would have sent out a message to the people of India. It’s rather sad,” says Prakash Kaur. The French first couple prayed for a son at the Fatehpur Sikri dargah of Sufi saint Salim Chishti.

Female foeticide is on the rise, especially among the educated class and in higher strata of society. It has assumed alarming proportions. According to NGOs working with issues related to women, every year, 10 lakh cases of female foeticide take place in the country with the help of gender determination tests. The death of young girls in India exceed those of young boys by over 300,000 each year and every 6th infant death is specifically due to gender discrimination.

According to Anjalee Shenoy of Sama Resource Centre for Women and Health, new techniques like PGD (pre-implant genetic diagnosis), a method that involves producing embryos through IVF, cannot just help you decide the gender of the child but the colour of skin and hair. And there is no effective law in place right now to stop this practice. “This falls under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, but it is going undetected,” says Shenoy.

But there is hope yet. If only Prakash Kaur’s selfless spirit would rub off on society at large.To know more, please visit the website http://uniquehomeforgirls.co.uk/