In 1973, Amitkumar Banerjee was a student of Bankura Christian College in Bankura, West Bengal. He was also reporting for a local newspaper called Bankura Sanbad. He was deputed to report on a mother who sold her child to a brothel for a few rupees and some kilograms of rice. This changed his outlook towards life and he decided to work for the betterment of destitute children.
In 1990, Mr. Banerjee along with his colleague from SOS Children’s Village, Mrs. Lata Pande started SAMPARC — Social Action for Manpower Creation. SAMPARC began with seven orphan children who were brought to them by social workers from Marathwada. It was set up in a mud house close to the famous Bhaje Caves near Lonavala. The idea was to give a new identity to orphans, destitute and children of sex workers. “These children should not be known as children of sex workers or juvenile delinquents but should have their own identity,” Mr. Banerjee is always in opinion that grown up children should be able to earn living with dignity so there was a great emphasis on vocational training.
Mr. Banerjee says it is not a child project; instead, every child is a project– his or her upbringing, education, health and career are very important for their growth and development.
Learning from SOS pattern he too agreed that children should grow in a family environment and a lady should live along with the children as a housemother or to be called foster mother to take care of all the needs of the children mostly psychological and emotional.
Mr. Banerjee and Mrs. Lata Pande ran SAMPARC in the mud house for about four and a half years. The number of children went up from seven to 46. Along with SAMPARC, they began a pre-primary education programme in and around 25 villages with the help of CRY and provided vocational training with the help of IGSSS to village school dropouts in welding, tailoring, and bamboo crafts. SAMPARC, in association with Save the Children Canada, helped to educate more than 200 children were cowherds and gave them primary education and vocational training.
While working in the community the need to support ladies was realized and 400 smokeless -oven were installed and at the same time 250 low cost toilets were installed in 14 villages.
By 1997, SAMPARC became a full-fledged children’s home at village Bhaje, Near Lonavala on four and a half acres of land with a playground. Mrs. Lucilla Monti from Milan, Italy, who became a real Friend of SAMPARC and along with her help Mr. Banerjee, decided to develop SAMPARC organization at the National Level. Also it is important to mention about name of three persons Late Mr.K.K.Singhvi (who was the President of SAMPARC) and Dr.Lalit Chokhani (present President of SAMPARC) and Mr.Rameshji Kacholia of Caring Friends, Mumbai who played an important role for the growth of SAMPARC. Is also important to mention help of Dr. Nico Nobel of Stichting Geron, Netherlands, Mrs. Bonney Christan of FDNF Switzerland.
On March 24, 1998 SAMPARC was awarded by the Government of India the “National Child Welfare Award” by then the Hon. President of India, Mr. K R Narayanan.
Looking at the program involvement, SAMPARC was granted 100% tax exemption for donors, by 35AC certificate by National Committee for Economic Development of Ministry of Finance. With the help of this 35AC Income Tax Exemption Certificate, SAMPARC raised funds to construct 10 houses, one community hall, a small medical center and an office for the benefit of 110 children at Bhaje centre.
The strength of SAMPARC child care program signifies – discipline, strong attitude towards education, good health, sports &, games. At working level, staff ensure love, affection, care & protection which is the main focus area and even small matters related to children is looked into deeply as such the child feels that someone is really concerned for him or her.
It was believed that Homes for the orphan children should be in isolation but SAMPARC grew with the idea that all children needed to grow under a community umbrella, not in isolation rather they should grow in the community with all social, cultural, religious and economic inputs. They need to be identify as other children of the community were they should have all opportunity for their growth and development.