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One look at the giggling Anisha Mandal and it is impossible to know of the massive shock that came to her so early in life. Two years ago, her father threw acid on her sleeping mother’s face and fled. He is still on the loose.

Anisha who was only 3 at the time of the incident was traumatized. She was scared to be with anyone other than her grandparents and her mother. She has been a witness to all the pain her mother and family have had to go through. For a child that young, one might think her mother’s physical disfigurement would scare her but no, she was always by her side protectively, never leaving her for a minute, in case her father came back to harm her. Having been at Mumbai’s DY Patil Hospital and Research Center since October 2012 for her mother’s treatment, it has become her home and all the staff, her new family.

Says Nitin Yeshwante, Sr.MSW of the hospital, “When Anisha first came here, she was a very timid child. She would not even talk to any of us, always clinging to her family. Along with her mother, the attack affected her very badly. Then slowly, with time, she started coming out of her shell and now, the hospital is her home!” Ask Anisha about any of the nurses, doctors or social workers and she knows them all. With her innocence, she has become the darling of everyone at the hospital.

So, when her mother started worrying about her education as she was turning 5, the hospital decided to do something about it ; Dr Vijay Patil, President of DY Patil University, decided to sponsor the child’s education. The hospital staff and other public have also come forward to extend their help in any way possible. The search for suitable schools started with eagerness. They wanted an English medium school as her mother wanted it that way. The social workers started teaching Anisha the English alphabet and the basics of the language at the hospital itself to help prepare her for school better. “Who knows, if she wishes, she can even choose to study in any of the DY Patil colleges after her schooling!”, say Mr Yeshwante.

Meanwhile, some other hurdles had to be crossed; on that fateful day in 2012 not only did her father throw acid on her mother but he also ran off with some valuable documents…including Anisha’s birth certificate. The hospital had to go to great lengths to get a new one made.

The doctors at the hospital often play with Anisha and joke with her. When they tell her that she should grow up to be a doctor like them, she turns serious and says she wants to be a cop and arrest her absconding father. Her mother says that no one has suggested this idea to her… she has always wanted to join the police forces but this incident has given her a new motivation to do so.

As of now, Anisha has liked and taken keen interest in a couple of schools she was shown. Everyone at DY Patil Hospital swears by her intelligence and is sure she would get into a school of her choice and would go places in life. Come the new academic session and she would be part of a new start to her life, studying, playing and forming new friendships…new relationships that would, hopefully, help her forget her painful ones.

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