Purushottam Patra, Gariyaband. He had lost his father in his childhood, at the age of 18 he started taking care of an orphan child found lying in the street and in 43 years he became the father of more than 100 children. Made the hands of 37 daughters yellow, got 15 sons married and settled down. Of these, 12 sons are doing government jobs. He used to take care of the children with the money he got from sewing clothes and wages. More than 100 innocent children of Chhattisgarh grew up in the shelter of this ashram. This story has become an example of sacrifice and service of ‘Papaji’ Shyamsundar Das of Jashoda Orphan Ashram.
Jashoda Orphan Ashram is located in Gambariguda village of Dharamgarh, Kalahandi, just 16 kilometers away from Devbhog. At present, 100 children including 6 infants are being brought up in this ashram under the supervision of 60 year old Shyam Sunder Das. Among these children, there are more than 30 such children whose poor parents have left behind due to birth disabilities. This ashram present in Odisha has given shelter to more than 100 orphan children of Devbhog region. All the children call Shyam Sundar as father and his wife Kasturi as mother. The couple, along with 3 ayahs and 5 other personnel, are engaged in the service of the children 24 hours a day. Shyam Sunder Das told that with the help of the Odisha government, in the last 15 years, a sufficient building, boundary wall has been built for the ashram. 1800 rupees per member per month for the upbringing of 40 children. Apart from this, he spends whatever his 3 sons earn in this noble cause.
Many lives being saved since 1980
When Shyam Sundar Das was 18 years old, he found a child crying under a tree in Dharamgarh Road. Which they picked up and took home. His mother Jashoda took care of the child. At the same time Shyam decided to serve such children. Got 4 kids within 6 months. At that time Shyam was working as a tailor. He also used to go to Kumhdai village of Devbhog to work as a labourer. Shyam was also accused of child lifting regarding the children. It has come to the point of going to jail. But the statements of some social workers saved Shyam from the clutches of the law.
His wife was away from Shyam for two years
Mother Jasoda also passed away in 1984. In the 90s, Shyam was raising more than 40 children in a kutcha house without any help. Life partner was needed for cooperation. Seeing the craziness of child rearing, no one wanted to give him a daughter. After which he married the girl of his choice Kasturi Devi in the temple and settled down. The struggle continued. For the first 15 years, Shyam used to work as a tailor to take care of the children. Kasturi Bai, who has become a mother of three children, stayed away from her husband for two years along with the children after seeing this stubbornness of Shyam’s children. There was tension in the house. But the people outside were also convinced of Shyam’s sense of service. The wife also realized this noble deed of her husband. Then both of them served the orphans together. Things came to such a pass that Shyam’s younger brother took his own children for their upbringing. When the sons grew up, today the sons have also started helping all those children by considering them as members of the family.
More than 150 couples have adopted children
After 2008, they started getting government help. Buildings, boundary walls were built. By the time the government funding started with a small amount for the upbringing of the children, they had brought up 150 children. Over time, more than 150 couples from Chhattisgarh and Odisha adopted many children from the orphanage. Shyam Sundar does not consider it an orphanage. They consider their home and everyone as their children. The story of the specialty of this family is told far and wide. Other people have so much attachment towards it that people come to this ashram to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or other happy occasions. Part of the food and other dishes also reach here in the events held at the local level.