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    » 03/08/2012, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    Sima's redemption after her father disfigured her because he wanted a boy

    Nozrul Islam

    She sings, dances, plays, does well in school and plays tricks. Since January, she has been living in Shehonir, a "House of caring' run by Sr Dipika who gives her love to Sima and the other children: orphans, poor or physically disabled. Although living away from home, her mother can always visit her when she wants.

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "Don't cry when you go away. I'm fine here. I'm happy," said ten-year-old Sima. Although her body still bears the marks of the acid that was thrown at her when she was ten months old, she is the one reassuring her mother. In January, a new chapter in her life began; it is called Snehonir or 'House of caring', a hostel for children, some of whom are physically disabled, orphans or from poor families. Sister Dipika, from the local congregation of Shanti Rani (Immaculate Heart of Mary), runs the place. She takes care of the children, teaching them about the value of being and sharing with others.

    Sima came to the hostel with her friend Aisha, who was also the victim of an acid attack, albeit a less serious one. She appears to have well adjusted to her new surroundings, two months after arriving. Both play, jump and have fun with other kids. Sima sings well and is a good learner. Seila is very vivacious and likes to play tricks on others. "The two are a force of nature," Sr Dipika said.

    Sima's singing is like a prayer from a misshaped mouth. Her Calvary began when she was 10 months old. Her father threw acid on her because he wanted a boy. She only survived because of the quick intervention of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF)

    Ten years and many operations later, Silma's face is not very expressive. Framed by rebellious hair, one of its eyes now opens. She can move it but cannot see with it. Her nose was reconstructed, but it is small. Only one of her ears is intact. Her mouth can open but it is uneven. Her skin is paper-thin and prone to inflammations. She will have to undergo operations all the time. This is true now that she is still a child because her skin is not developing proportionately to her skeleton. However, it will also be true in the future, when she is an adult, because her skin will never be adequately elastic or properly nourished. Yet, in Snehonir her ravaged and apparently inexpressive body does not make her different. Sima runs, plays, skips, laughs and studies like all the other children; he especially does all of this with them.

    Most of the kids are Christian, but there are three Hindu kids. Two girls are Muslim: Sima and Aisha. Originally, the hostel was part of the local Shanti Rani convent.

    Some years ago, one of the nuns, Sister Gertrude, took in a couple of orphans, one of whom had physical problems, but they went well together. This led her to image a place where able-bodied children could live side by side with disabled kids. The mother superior of the convent agreed to the construction of a small hostel, which became today's Snehonir thanks to contributions from a local donor.

    Nicknamed Dolly because she has the face of a doll despite her 40 years, Sr Dipika, who took over from Sr Gertrude, studied physiotherapy and nursing to care better for the children with disabilities.

    Unlike in other hostels where parents come once every two months, Sr Dipika encourages mothers to come any time they want. "Bring them what you want!" she told them. "I'll teach them how to share with others."

    Sharing, good cheer and freedom is what Sr Dipika is giving the children every day. In turn, the little ones bring all this to their classroom, beyond the walls of the hostel.

    Even Sima is going to school, outside. She is doing so well and fits in so well with her fellow classmates that teachers asked Sr Dipika to send them more children like her. This never happened before.

    At a recent picnic, Aisha said she wanted to become Christian. "I like the chants and the prayers," she said. "But we are Muslim," answered an astonished Sima. Looking at them from a distance, Sr Dipika smiles as they go back to play. Snehonir is also this.

     

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    See also

    15/11/2011 BANGLADESH
    The story of Sima, a girl her father disfigured with acid at age of ten months
    The girl, who is now ten years old, is at peace with herself but will have to undergo operations throughout her life because the acid damaged her facial muscles and her skin is not growing as fast as her skeleton. After spending three months in prison, the father repudiated his wife and created a new family. At the same time, he was pocketing Sima’s disability money. Thanks to Giovanna Danieletto, an Italian businesswoman, the girl will now have a new home and be able to go to school.

    09/11/2015 BANGLADESH
    Dhaka Church bids farewell to Fr. Sima: He created hymns and texts that will remain forever
    The priest, 76, composed more than 100 sacred songs in the Bengali language used every day in parishes across the country. He taught at the seminary and translated all the texts of the Second Vatican Council. Priests and faithful deeply moved: "He gave his all for the faith, may he rest in the arms of the Lord."

    16/11/2011 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh: acid attacks, women and children the most affected group
    Since 1999, 2,496 cases of acid attacks, according to data from the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF). In 2010, 72% of cases of girls and women between 18 and 34 years. Growing attacks on men, over property related issues.

    30/05/2009 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh: two young brothers, victims of a family feud, disfigured with acid.
    Their father’s first wife demanded a sum of money and a piece of land. The target of the attack was the boy’s mother; on not finding here the women and her brother attacked the children. In ten years Bangladesh has seen 2200 acid attacks.

    02/10/2008 BANGLADESH
    Acid, the new weapon for disfiguring women
    Wives, daughters, girls are punished by having acid thrown on them, permanently disfiguring them. The government prohibits the sale of the corrosive liquids, but they are easily found on the market. The phenomenon is spreading. The victims now include children and adult males.



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