A trans woman who was abandoned by her parents as a child has become a mother to eight orphaned children, so they never have to suffer as she did.
Manisha lives in the Indian town of Pakhanjur in Chhattisgarh, where she has taken seven girls and one boy under her wing. Although she struggles to make ends meet she is determined to provide them all with the loving home she was denied as a child.
“I can understand the pain of not being loved and cared for. So, whenever I come across an orphan, I take that child home with me,” she told Gaon Connection.
Manisha knew she was different from a young age and was cruelly ostracised for it. At school she was chased away by other children, and at home her parents locked her indoors so she wouldn’t “malign” their honour.
Then one day when she was just five years old, they left her to starve.
“My mother and father abandoned me at a very young age,” she said. “I had a tough childhood and I spent many days without food. I vowed to myself that when I grew up, I would take care of other children who did not have a family.”
Manisha was taken in by another trans woman and now extends the same kindness as a mother herself. Thanks to her, children who would otherwise be on the streets have food, shelter, medicine and a family of their own.
Most are young girls whose parents were unable or unwilling to care for them, including one whose mother tried to commit infanticide. One of the older children is transgender like Manisha, and the youngest is a 7-month-old boy who lost both his parents.
Manisha earns a meagre living by singing and dancing at weddings and at the births of children, the traditional occupation for transgender people in Indian culture. But times are especially tough now with the pandemic, and she also rears livestock to feed her family.
Her ultimate dream is to build an orphanage of her own so she can give as many children as possible a safe roof over their heads.
“I never had my mother’s love, or my father’s. I don’t remember getting any affection from them,” she told Brut.
“There are kids like this abandoned, kicked out of their homes. Some talk about killing their child. The way I have been hurt, if I see an orphan or a child that has been abandoned, I will be a mother for them and raise them.”