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Tree planting with Bhumi at Sukanya Home

On 18 June 2017, student volunteers from Bhumi, a community youth organisation, teamed up with the girls of Sukanya Home to plant trees. Sukanya is a government shelter home for minor girls placed by court orders due to legal cases with their guardians or living situations.

IJM’s team at Kolkata first connected Bhumi to Sukanya Home early this year and since then, a partnership has developed between IJM, the volunteer group and the shelter home. Bhumi has recently started a vocational skills programme for these girls and the student volunteer group expressed interest in regularly sending volunteers to interact with the girls from the home.

When the girls spotted the volunteers, they ran up smiling, waving, and pressing their noses up to the gate in anticipation. After scouting the location to best plant these trees, the volunteers went to work in Sukanya’s courtyard. Soon, the sparse space was filled with volunteers and girls from the home— everyone with a shovel in hand, clearing the yard of trash and rocks from the rough soil.

“By giving them their own sapling, we are hoping that the girls get ‘a sense of belonging,” says Anahita, student coordinator from Bhumi. The volunteers worked side by side with the girls to plant over 50 new saplings. The girls were excited to help care for “their” plant and adopted a plant each as their own. One girl told her social worker “Sunemiya di, when I am out of this home, please remember to water my tree. Okay?”

With this tree planting, it is clear that the community is taking an active role in helping the girls feel more at home in their current residence. Although these girls have been removed from unsafe conditions, due to various legal constraints, many girls are limited in what they can do once inside the home. Sukanya tries to give the girls as many opportunities as they can through their programmes and resources.