In 1981, Meena Rana, hailing from Kudana village in Shamli married Baghpat’s, Virender Rana. The farmer couple, ten years into their marriage realised they could never bear their own biological children.
Meena was diagnosed with a tumour in her uterus that severed every possibility of her experiencing motherhood. But even in the face of this harsh reality, the couple stood undeterred.
And the lives that these farmers have led in the last 30 years proves that the bond of motherhood or parenthood transcends blood relations.
Meena and Virender shifted from Baghpat to Shukrtaal in 1990 and bought a small plot. It was at the time; they adopted their first child, a one-year-old kid who was abandoned due to his disability. They christened him Mangeram. But the happiness of the couple only lasted for four years, until Mangeram passed away at the age of 5.
The grief of losing their son persisted, but the couple did not give up. They started bringing home other abandoned children.
Looking at the couple’s work, the Shukrataal gram panchayat bought them an eight-bigha plot, where they set up an orphanage to look after these kids. The place that once resounded with the joyous voice of one abandoned boy who had finally found his forever home, 30 years later is home to 51 such children.
Meena & Virender are proud parents with 46 children under their care currently, 19 girls and 27 boys. The others have either grown up, moved away after marriage or are pursuing their careers. Many of the kids in the home are differently abled or physically challenged.
The home is equipped with rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a big playground for the kids. The couple also runs a small school for the kids.
Speaking to the Times of India, Meena said, “I do not care whether they are Hindus or Muslims. All I know is that they are my children. Our main focus is the education of these children.”\
The entire home and school are run solely on the donations, the couple receives. While the bigger plot of land was donated to Meena & Virender by the Shukrtaal gram panchayat, most of their other supplies and essentials, are dependent on donations.
“Our neighbours provide us with wheat and other basic food items,” said Virendra
The success of their upbringing and unconditional love reflects in the personality of 22-year-old Mamta. Brought up under the couple’s love and care, Mamta is currently pursuing her postgraduation at a district college and also volunteers at home.
“I do not know what my future would have been had they not taken me into their care. I owe them my life,” she told the publication.