The villagers from this area are called the ‘musa-har’, meaning the rodent eaters. They have a long history of eating mice and rats. Their skin is almost black in color. It is said the practice of eating rodents has caused the skin to be so dark.
Of all the children Just One serves, these are probably considered to be of the lowest caste. Children from all other castes will not associate with them. The children are filthy to the point where the dirt looks like a chalky substance on their skin and hair. Not only are they lacking hygiene, but many have blemishes, puffiness, and lesions on their skin.
Unlike the other children I have met, these children seem to shy away from strangers and avoid the camera. They are the only children I have met that do not seem to enjoy being children. At least in a social setting, they are very reserved. Moreover, they seem to cling to each other more than normal. But when it comes to food, they are like children everywhere. They enjoy the opportunity to be together and share their meal as a community, with 200 children eventually being fed over the program today.
The food is our standard fare of puri, vegetable curry and a banana for desert. It is fresh and tasty. Father Dilraj of ASMITA speaks with great pride about serving this community. No one takes care of this caste, but Just One and ASMITA come here. It is one thing to say this statement, but quite another to experience the segregation in the eyes and in the demeanor of the children. I am touched by the thought that the Just One program offers care for those whom no-one else does.