154 Covid orphans in Andhra, 143 in Telangana: many with little resources

There are at least 40 children in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana who have lost a parent to Covid after the death of another due to illness or accident a few years ago, according to official data.

The death of Nelli Sampat, a daily-wager who was raising a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son after losing his wife to a renal disease, has shocked his children so much that they now refuse to eat food served by their grandmother in Manakondur of Telangana’s Karimnagar.

The children told child services officials that since their mother’s death, they have always eaten dinner after their father returned home. “The loss of their father has devastated both of them. They will be put in care of Child Protection Services soon. We have arranged to admit the girl in class 9 at Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya residential school while the boy will resume studies at a boys school through an NGO,” said D Parveen, District Child Protection Services officer, adding that the grandmother receives a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 and that is the only income they have as of now.

There are at least 40 children in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana who have lost a parent to Covid after the death of another due to illness or accident a few years ago, according to official data. There are 143 children who lost both their parents to Covid in Telangana while this number stands at 154 in Andhra Pradesh. And then, there are those who have lost one parent to Covid — more than 1,000 such children in each of the two states.

Officials said that many of these orphans are living with their grandparents who, apart from having very little income in the form of pensions, are in no position to take care of the children due to their advanced age. Officials said that protecting the mental health of the children is essential and they are given regular counselling.

Juvenile Welfare Department Director Kritika Shukla said the Andhra Pradesh government is putting fixed deposits of Rs 10 lakh in the name of each orphan and this can be withdrawn after they attain the age of 25. The children can withdraw the monthly interest till then.

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