express news service
Ernakulam: A woman with a kind heart. That’s how those who know Krystle Hart Singh like to define him. For the past 20 years, Christel – an Anglo-Swiss citizen – has been engaged in social work in Kochi, especially among children who have been victims of sexual abuse.
He started as a volunteer with an NGO working among street children in Mumbai. “I fell in love with the country and wanted to stay back after my tenure with the NGO ended,” Christel says. Then he decided to start an organization which would work towards the rehabilitation of street children. Thus was born Dil Se, which he founded with the help of Marina Racine, a friend based in Switzerland.
Does the name Dil Se have any connection with the famous AR Rahman song? “Yes! It was named because of the kids in Mumbai who used to roam around singing the song,” she says. She has been living in Kochi since 2000. “Now I am a Kochi,” says Krystle, a Malayalam native Knows sly language.
She has built and run many children’s homes, helped families in need with food and education, and worked with people living with HIV/AIDS. “During my work among children, I came across many sexually abused children. These were the children who were harassed by their father, stepfather and other relatives,” she says. Over the past eight years, Dil Se has attended and cared for over 55 teenagers who were sexually abused.
Many of these girls became pregnant and had no place to go. “When a 14-year-old girl, who had previously been cared for with all her heart, became pregnant, I thought of setting up a home exclusively for her. These girls not only face stigma and rejection by the family and community but they also do not have a place to go where they can be properly looked after. That is how Tejas Home came into existence,” says Christel.
Established in partnership with Birth for Change, the care home opened in November 2012. Amid the spread of COVID, the care home is not functioning, but she hopes to reopen the facility in the coming months.