Manju began her career with us as a young Special Educator. Trained as a Montessori Teacher Trainer, she took to the field of special needs as if born to it. In 1999 she was appointed Vice-Principal of Karuna Vihar and in 2000 she took over as Principal.
In 2007, she became Director for Development and Training, an important sounding title which only partially reflects the crucial role she plays in guiding the organization forward. In this new position, Manju is concentrating both on the individual development of staff, parents and children as well as training within the wider community.
She has the rare ability to combine a gentle sweetness with firm conviction, intelligence and a wry sense of humor. Manju is known for her insight, judgment and tact, to say nothing of her linguistic talents! She is fluent not only in Hindi and English but in Bengali and Telegu as well. She and her husband Mukesh have one son named Joy, who has virtually grown up at Karuna Vihar, though he finds time to attend his own school as well!
Writer, Executive Director and one of the founders of LRF, fund-raiser for the foundation, mother of Anand, Cathleen, and Moy Moy, who was the original impetus for Karuna Vihar School. On one level, this is Jo Chopra and some of the many roles she fills, all with enthusiasm, conviction, and passion.
But take a closer look, and you’ll find a woman of dreams with a “can do” attitude, a believer in the power of ordinary people, a dauntless advocate of those who are treated unjustly and suffer unnecessarily in our society, a woman who for many is more of a mother than a boss.
Staff at LRF feel part of a family and Jo Chopra is undisputedly the heart of this dynamic, talented, highly motivated brood. She plays down her own role, though, seeking always to empower others, to let the dreams manifest themselves through the lenses of different characters in the organisation – and often through the lens of her own camera, which she wields with the same dedication and zeal with which she approaches other aspects of her life and work.
Aarti is a physiotherapist by training, with a special focus on children with cerebral palsy. As the mother of two children herself (Diya and Divith) she has a natural feeling for the difficulties of juggling the ordinary chores of every busy family with the added requirements a child with special needs brings. She has devised a whole range of ways to incorporate physiotherapy into a child's daily routine so that one hardly notices one is doing it.
She also has a wonderful sense of humor and an almost impish sense of fun – her quiet presence can be deceptive! One is often unprepared for the hilarious remarks she makes in her trademark, understated way. She brings patience and understanding to her work and encourages and inspires the mothers and young staff members she trains.
Aarti did an advanced training course in Bobath therapy in the UK and when she returned the added knowledge to her existing expertise brought in a host of new therapy ideas for our kids with cerebral palsy. She is on a sabbatical in Hyderabad from mid 2013 to 2015 as her husband is working with the army there. However, Aarti continues to remain in close touch with the foundation and she is serving on the advisory board for the sight savers project as well as for Gubbara. In Hyderabad, she divides her time between her family and as a part time teacher at the Army’s schools for special children. She is also eager to return to Dehradun and we too cannot wait to have her back here with us, for she always brings with her some great ideas and invaluable advice!
Shubha Nagesh's very impressive academic history and wealth of practical experience makes her a very valuable member of the Foundation's team. Her role as head of our outreach program involves developing and implementing district level follow up programs for our children. Her academic vigour, motivation and focus are fantastic assets to the foundation. She has worked with the National AIDS Control Program, Ministry of Health Government of India as a national consultant for the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) program. During this tenure, she has worked intensively towards the integration of the PMTCT and maternal health programs across the country. She has worked with HIV positive Nepalese immigrant families in New Delhi and immigrant women construction workers in Mumbai and studied their access to reproductive health services. Previously, she was with the National Health Service, United Kingdom as a medical officer for three years, following competition of her medical degree.
She holds a medical degree from Bangalore Medical College and two Masters, one in Health Administration from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai (awarded best outgoing student trophy and the institute gold medal), and a Masters in Medical Sciences (Global Health major) from Karolinska Instituet, Stockholm as an Erasmus Mundus Scholar. She have been awarded the VLIR-UOS scholarship towards a research project on families of children with special needs in Uttarakhand. The study aims to understand perceptions of parents towards the foundation's tertiary level assessment program and the impact it has on their families.
Her primary area of interest is childhood disability in the context of global health. Her specific focus is on developing community-based programs for children with special needs and their families.
If one has ever set foot in the foundation, he/ she has definitely met the warm and always smiling Sumita Nanda, current Director of Human Resources. When Sumita first heard about the office coordinator’s job in 2003, she felt herself to be totally unsuitable for the position. After all, despite her strong computer background (including an honours diploma in systems management which she undertook after earning her MA in Political Science) and several years teaching computer science and political science at a school in Dehradun, she’d never done office work, much less accounting, counselling of parents, and all the other duties which the job entailed and gradually her “take” on the post changed.
When you meet Sumita today, it’s hard to imagine the more introverted version of herself which she describes in retrospect. Today’s Sumita is a friendly, open, professional, well-informed, responsible member of staff who is highly motivated to learn. Her meticulous nature is perhaps her best asset, she looks after every small detail from travel schedules, major events, calendar dispatches to rents, maintenance, phone connections, internet, powerpoint presentations and even bus and van routes, the garden, the plumbing, the pictures on the wall; now as HR director she will also see to recruitment and hiring, writing job descriptions, organizing appraisals, dealing with leave rules, increments and promotions, identifying training needs on the staff, making her nothing short of LRF’s in -house superwoman. Her organizational skills, anticipatory planning and problem solving skills have contributed to the organisation in more ways than imagined. She is always eager to give her best shot at any job assigned to her and does the same with perfection. She handles her challenging and multiple roles with ease and skill and inspires everyone else around her.
After acquiring a Business Management degree, Mamta Govil's initial working years were spent in the retail field with Mothercare India Ltd, with a social organization by the name of CRY- Child Relief and You and with the social communication division of HTA- Thompson Social.
Following her heart and getting a post graduate degree in Psychology and a Diploma in Special Education from AADI, she spent many years teaching children at The British School and then at Salaam Baalak Trust, both in New Delhi.
She then joined Welham Girls' School in Dehradun and spent a few years there before joining Latika Roy Foundation as the Project Head for Mama EIC. She now lives in the Dun valley with her mother and daughter and loves working on issues relating to education and children. Reading, walking, music and spending time in the mountains are some of her other deep-rooted interests!
Sandeep was one of Mama EIC's onsite physiotherapist's before he took on as Project Head and physiotherapist at Gubbara. He hosts an abundance of practical experience, which he never fails to utilise wherever he is working. He gained a masters in physiotherapy, specialising in neurology, before teaching in Doon Paramedical College, followed by the Alpine Institute. Now he is a permanent member of the faculty at Beehive College, as well as running his own physiotherapy clinic.
However, neither of these additional ventures detracts from the focus and dedication he brings to his work at Gubbara. He plays the quintessential role of organising and planning activities at Gubbara, coordinating with parents and Doon hospital staff, conducting meetings, building a support system and detailed plan that would help the children improve and also gives his fellow physiotherapists inputs. He is also a member of the assessment team. While he is proud of the students he has taught that are now well established and respected in their field, he is equally glad that much of his therapy at the Gubbara is having positive results in terms of the progression of the children he works with.
He feels that every new day and every new child have so much to offer him that he only tires his best to give back.
Sparkling eyes and a captivating grin – that’s our Rizwan. He is currently the awareness campaign coordinator at Gubbara. He joined us in January 2008 after a 5 year stint at the Rehab Centre for Alcoholics and Drug addicts where he did the grave-yard shift looking after patients. He has a passion for spreading awareness through street plays and was one of the main characters in our Nukkad Natak performed by the Latika Vihar kids. Rizwan was looking for a stimulating change when he chanced upon our advertisement in the newspaper for just the post he wanted.
He likes the low stress work environment and is impressed with the creative freedom he has to express himself. A B.Com graduate, he has lived in Dehradun all his life and comes from a large family – he is the youngest of 8 siblings! He lives with his wife and beautiful son in Dehradun. In his free time he likes hanging out with friends and listening to ghazals.
Manju was first offered the position as Moy’s carer after school. After 2.5 years with Moy, she started attending school as Moy’s companion, working with all the students in the lessons. She was offered a chance to do a course in community-based rehabilitation in Delhi and a foundation course in Special Education, and from July, 1999, she started work as a special educator at the school, finished her MA in Sociology at the same time.
It wasn’t long before the job became more than a job; it became family. Through meeting many different people, attending workshops in different venues, mixing with staff from different educational establishments, Manju has gained confidence and poise, and is now in a position to train others as the current project coordinator (as well as the first ever special educator!) at Karuna Vihar. Always striving to push herself into learning more and furthering her profession, Manju completed her B.Ed in Mental Retardation and now she hopes to pursue an M.Ed as well as improver her computer skills in the near future and we are sure her resolute fervour will lead her to do so!
Her enthusiasm for her work is infectious, her energy boundless; her conviction that play-based activities are the vital first steps to learning is brought to bear in all that she undertakes with the children. For a while it has been her dream to open her own school for special kids, a project she believes will further her profession. At the same time, she wants to take out time to travel to different places to gain more knowledge and do something unique, something ‘out of the box’.
Pooja has been on the staff of Karuna Vihar for 7 years, during which the “can-do” optimism of the organisation has affected her own attitudes and shaped her life. Unsure as to which direction her career should take following her BA studies in Psychology, Pooja enrolled in a diploma course for special education, and gradually became committed to the field. At the same time as her final exams, she became engaged, and events in her personal life took over; she married in 1998 and gave birth to her daughter in 1999.
In 2000, she started as a special educator in a Karuna Vihar project, teaching at Mother Theresa’s orphanage, and when the EIC was established, she was part of the start-up team. She completed her masters in psycology. Now a confident, knowledgeable professional who juggles a number of different roles each day, she is eager to learn more about areas such as behaviour management, speech and language. Eager to understand concepts fully, she gives her best to whatever she does, whether it be working with children at EIC, raising her own children (Abhi has now joined the family), being creative with her hands, or engaging in one of her passions, dancing.
Nirmala is a talented natural teacher who, as a fresh graduate from her BA course, applied for a job at Nanidunia School in Dehradun, and took up a position teaching a mixed class of students, some of whom had physical handicaps and learning difficulties. Her 3 years at this school provided her with a wealth of practical experience, as she took on responsibilities in many administrative areas on top of teaching drama, dance, and academic subjects.
In the course of her work she met Chantal, a French special educator who invited Nirmila to France. Her initial 3-month visit went so well that the staff at Chantal's school sponsored her return, this time for a full year, offering her an on-the-job training opportunity. Upon return from this practical training, Nirmala went to work for Karuna Vihar at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Dehradun, teaching children with special needs, and when EIC was launched in 2002, she was one of the start-up team. She feels that working with children at EIC takes her back to childhood; work is fun, and her "child within" is thriving, as are the children in her care, including her son, Shubham, an adorable kid.
She is now the Acting Director of EIC, filling in Aarti's place with confidence, poise and commitment. And yes, both parents and kids love her!
Shivani is one of the longest-standing members of the KV family, now a special educator in charge of the transition class at the Vocational Training Centre. After finishing class 12, she applied for a position with the fledgling LRF and in June, 1995, she started as Moy’s carer. In October, 1995, Karuna Vihar School opened with 3 children, and Shivani went along with Moy during school hours.
In January, 1996 she took up a post as an assistant teacher, and later that year another opportunity presented itself to her: marriage! However, she first made it clear to her prospective husband that her job was very important to her and she was deeply committed to it. Once this condition met with his approval, the deal was sealed, and they married, then welcomed Ambika (Mitthu) into the world in 1998. Since joining the KV family Shivani has completed a 3-month foundation course in special education, learned sign language, and improved her English and is currently pursuing a B.Ed in special needs; she emphatically asserts that she continues to learn something new every single day and that attitude has led her to earn herself the post of Acting Project Head at CVT. Her creativity, positive, “can do” attitude, openness and enthusiasm are inspirational!
Sunita spent her formative years at the Raphael Institute, where she had an educational sponsor and received excellent care and encouragement to become a special educator within the organisation. After 8 years of working at Raphael, she felt ready to move on. By this time, she had successfully completed her BA, spent a year doing a diploma in Special Education, gotten married, and had a child.
She knew of Karuna Vihar, but it was while in Bombay on a visit that she heard of its reputation and resolved to look into it when she returned to Dehradun. Since 2004 she has been working with the younger students at the school, enjoying the creative opportunities which the job presents, revelling in the activity-based programme, and applying her generous spirit and considerable talents to her students’ development. Compassionate and patient, one of her deepest wishes is to understand her children? What is going on inside them? What do they REALLY want? How do they feel? Sunita is committed to the process of learning from her children as much as they learn from her.
Just 2 weeks of joining the LRF family, Dr. PC Banerjee or Pranesh (also his first name) as he is known among the staff is contributing enormously as head of the Child Development Centre. He has graduated in Medicine and done his own clinical practice for the last 20 years, his unmatched experience and immense knowledge is proving to be one of our greatest assets even as he now works in the administration field. He is presently doing his best to understand the needs of the organization and hopes to device ways that will help it grow even further. He feels that his job is something unique and challenging. He also feels that after working so closely with the kids and other staff members at LRF, his approach to his job and personal life is being shaped in invaluable ways.
Dr. Banerjee lives with his wife, Shoma and kids, Paromita and Nikhilesh in Dehradun itself. In his spare time he enjoys going trekking and exploring photography and his genuine passion for the environment has led him to work with school children, teaching them about conservation through bird watching! He is also interested in pursuing something in developmental neurology and promises to stay committed to the cause of social health, always!
Fresh, young and vivacious, Lakshmi has done her bachelor’s in physiotherapy and an MBA in health care services and entered the LRF family in August 2012, first at EIC but now she is one of the physiotherapist’s at the Child Development Centre. What she enjoys most about working at LRF is the strong spirit of teamwork, ingenuousness and the absence of hierarchy which made it easier to fit in and adjust to the work environment.
She’s one to make the best of any situation and loves that every day at work has something new to offer, learn and gain from. She is also grateful that she has the opportunity to work beside other physiotherapists and learn from them, helping her grow professionally. But her profession isn’t the only thing that was benefitted after working at LRF; personally too, she was blessed! Lakshmi wedded Varun Sharma on in December 2012! On the weekends, if she is not busy learning the ropes to marriage, Lakshmi takes pleasure in reading novels and listening to music.
Originally from Indore and then having studied occupational therapy from Jaipur, Lily chanced upon the foundation’s facebook page which led her to explore the website. Soon she began communicating with us and eventually she was called to Dehradun to join us as an occupational therapist. With easily one of the most gentle and pleasantly sweet voices, Lily particularly works with children having sensory issues and also those with cerebral palsy. She treasures the hands-on experience she has had here with the kids and experienced staff members who she claims have been thoroughly helpful and supportive in guiding her through the initial weeks of her job.
Living on her own in Vansant Vihar itself, she loves catching up on books, music and art in her free time. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Lily calls herself an amateur singer and hopes to become a professional one if on her journey to professional singing “people don’t go deaf” (Her modest words!). Someone with a true thirst for knowledge and insatiable desire to learn more, Lily is currently is simultaneously pursuing her masters in pediatrics and hopes to eventually crown her education with either a PHD or a diploma in child development.
Soft spoken yet confident, Ranjana heard about the foundation through her friend, Naina Negi who works at Karuna Vihar Special School. She became a part of the staff as a helper at the Child Development Centre helping the teachers when they work with kids and also handling the kids herself! Living with her parents and her brother, Rajiv, in Dehradun itself, Ranjana is currently pursuing her BA and she will graduate in 2014.
What she loves most about her job and the organization is the willingness of the staff to help out in any way they can and hopes to continue her job so that she is always in touch with the warm and friendly atmosphere which is omnipresent at the organization. She thoroughly enjoys playing badminton, reading novels and listening to music.
Sarika has had her own personal experience with kids with special needs; her sister, Rupal was a special child. She grew up taking care of her sister, and simultaneously learning about special needs from her which played a major role in influencing her choice of profession. She graduated from MKP College, completed the Nursery teacher’s training course as well as the care giver course in special fields and finally trained as an assistant teacher from LRF itself.
She feels the attitude of the staff at LRF is refreshingly different, one that is undiscriminating and accepting. Her confidence and social skills were given a massive boost after she started working here. Sarika lives with her husband in Dehradun and if she is not visiting her sister she likes to paint, read and listen to music in her free time.
Nisha’s early life was characterized by struggle, but if this hadn’t been the case, she probably wouldn’t be with us today, and she says herself that her difficulties have taught her much that enables her to help others effectively now. Nisha’s two brothers have learning difficulties; in fact, one of them attended Karuna Vihar School for some years. She was raised by her maternal grandparents, who were “more than parents” in the absence of her own immediate family.
Her personal history led her to the field of special needs, as she wanted to understand people like her brothers, who didn’t thrive in the mainstream education system. She strongly believes that play-based activities are the best way to start with all children, and since she joined us in July, 2004, she has learned to apply this belief with conviction and enthusiasm! She is currently the special educator of the ‘Bird Class’ at the Karuna Vihar Child Development Centre. At the moment she is kept busy with her job, her studies, and her wonderful family!
Ramesh joined the Karuna Vihar staff as a helper in 2005, but it feels like he’s been here for longer, and it’s hard to imagine the school without his friendly, supportive presence. Not only does he assist staff and students at the school in many different ways, but he also repairs wheelchairs, replaces punctured tires on school vehicles, and has proven himself to be an all-round handyman, the kind who becomes indispensable to an organisation like ours.
A hard-working, helpful man with a lively sense of humour, Ramesh enjoys the staff and children at KV, where he is making the most of any and all opportunities to learn, including participating in staff workshops. He enjoys playing cricket, reading Hindi, and cooking, which he has ample opportunity to do in the absence of his wife and young son, who stay in his village in the north of Uttarakhand.
He was recently blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Nikita. Congratulations Ramesh!
Ravinder has worked as a gardener at Karuna Vihar for 6 years, during which he has developed and cared for our green spaces, supporting the students in their efforts to grow things and to beautify our campuses. Married with one child, who arrived in 2006, he says the happiest day of his life was the day his daughter was born, and his aim is that she will have the opportunity to get a really good education.
He enjoys working with the staff and children at Karuna Vihar; the vegetable garden he created from former flower beds was an astonishing success, enabling the classes to make use of very local produce on their cooking days, not to mention during their gardening sessions. And what does a man with green fingers like to do in his spare time? Well, garden, of course! Ravinder also counts cooking among his interests, but at the moment we have plenty to keep him busy outdoors!
Resham has been with us as a driver since 2004, transporting children to and from the projects and responding to our needs as they arise. A gifted teacher, he has been driving instructor for several staff members and even staff children. Cathleen, Jo’s daughter, says he is a very patient teacher, and much calmer than her mother! From Nepal, he lives with his family, including three young children, in FRI.
In his free time he enjoys playing football, volleyball, and cricket, but he also has an active interest in photography and computers. Having taken a 3-month course in Photoshop, he is eager to develop his skills in this area. As we rely on our drivers to do far more than simply transport us from place to place, we are delighted to have someone as dedicated and hard working as Resham on the team!
Januka is first and foremost a mother and that is how her relationship with the foundation started. She was a very enthusiastic and inquisitive parent. At the EIC she always participated in all the activities involving her older daughter, Siddhika, who has special needs and is now a student of the ‘Star Class’ at KVCDC. Inspired by her daughter to learn more she joined the Assistant Teacher Training Course held at the foundation after which she decided to begin embark on a career in this field. She then went on to complete B. Ed degree and joined the foundation after that and is currently a special educator at the ‘Flower Class’ at KVCDC. Her inquisitive and creative nature can also be seen when she is cooking or painting. She is also an extremely talented mehendi and rangoli artist!
She loves nothing more than to spend time and take her two girls, Siddhika and younger one, Shradhha, out on excursions. She is exceptionally thankful to her husband and her entire family for their unwavering support in helping her pursue this profession, without which she would not be where she is today.
Saytendra is a computer whiz who loves to enact the Tele-brand shopping show during lunch hour. It is hard to believe he is the same man who in his initial days was quiet, shy and almost inaudible.
He joined the foundation in 2008 as the office coordinator at Karuna Vihar School. In April, 2009 he shifted to the Awareness Campaign Team as their Office Coordinator and now finally he’s at the Karuna Vihar Child Development Centre as again, their Office coordinator. He handles everything be it looking after the requirements of the staff, ensuring the day’s activities are ready and in order, attending to parents phone calls or even resolving any minor issues at the centre. To put it in one phrase, he makes sure that everyone-staff, kids and parents- at KVCDC has a smile on their face (never letting his own wear out!).
He believes he has learnt a lot about management and workshop logistics including budgeting and controlling expenses after joining LRF. In his spare time he loves playing a game of chess, travelling and visiting new places in India and reading, particularly about social issues.
Meena is today one of our longest standing staff members. Six months after Karuna Vihar School opened, she was told by an acquaintance that Paula, who was then principal, needed a helper at the school, and Meena has been part of the team ever since, working with different staff and children of all ages. Having seen some of the little ones grow up and move on to CVT, she has witnessed and been impressed by the progress which the students have made, their increased independence and skills in all areas of their development.
She knows her job well, and also knows that the young children she is currently working with have tremendous potential for development. Meena is the mother of 3 sons and a daughter, and her granddaughter, Deepa, regularly joins Meena’s class at Karuna Vihar – a beautiful example of reverse inclusion!
Gangaram’s story is in the process of becoming legend at LRF. After leaving Nepal as a young man, he worked in Rajasthan for 4 years (there’s little he doesn’t know about marble!) before moving to Dehradun, where his father was based, in 1994. Initially he joined the LRF team as a helper at Latika Vihar, and over time he has evolved into a helper cum assistant physiotherapist, working with the younger children at Karuna Vihar School. Although he never received schooling as a boy, he is far from uneducated, and proudly proclaims that Karuna Vihar is the place where he has received the most meaningful education.
Since coming to work with us he has learned spoken and written Hindi, teaching and therapy skills, and is presently engaged in learning English. He is certainly an inspiration to his two young daughters, who have remained in Nepal. When Gangaram visited his daughter’s school during a recent holiday, he was so full of good ideas for the classroom that he was offered a job! Thankfully, he declined, explaining that he still had so much to learn from KV.
Archana formerly worked as a teacher at CVT and taught, or helped with all the activities that the trainees took part in at the centre. She was then asked to join the Child Development Centre as an assistant teacher and now teaches younger children the ropes on the most basic and essential things like eating, activity based learning, etc. She not only helps the students overcome the challenges they face, but adds her lively spirit to the activities that make sure the students have plenty of fun too.
Her smile is tremendously infectious, and she demonstrates great pride in her work on a daily basis, as well as adding huge amount to the positive atmosphere of the centre. She is glad to be handling smaller kids as she believes it has given her a chance to understand the nature, behaviour and needs of special kids at the very initial stages. She likes giving nothing short of her best when she works and thus even on weekends she likes to search and read up on new activities which she can offer to her class the following week.
Thapaji is one of our drivers, and when you first meet him, you get an impression of someone you could entrust with your life. Professional in demeanour, courteous, calm and punctual, he takes his job seriously, well-trained by 23 years in the army, many of which were spent in Sikkim driving heavy vehicles! Married with two sons and a daughter, Thapaji’s off-duty hours are spent working in his fields and taking care of his family.
When you meet Krishna for the first time you instantly warm up to this soft spoken lady with a charming smile. She has been with us for more than two years. She is extremely patient and credits the school for her coming out of her shell. She loves watching television, a fact that she confirms by saying that sometimes she even forgets to eat her dinner while watching her favorite show, Lil Champs!
In school her most loved activity is reading with the children. She loves to paint and learning new things at the school. She says she is just like the children because like them she too is learning and growing everyday.
A calm and gentle person, Sunita began her association with the foundation through her niece, Chaandni, a student of CVT. As an aunt, she felt that she should be more involved and informed about the various aspects of her education and upbringing. She realized that to be aware of what her niece learns at school and becoming an active participant in her education would lead to better progress in her apart from offering support for her family members. She now works as an assistant teacher in the Deer class of Karuna Vihar.
She is gentle, caring and sincere at her work and has formed a close bond with the kids in her class. Her husband, Deepak Rai works at the NHPC and she has gorgeous son, Moksh or “Nanu” as he is lovingly called. She loves to travel, cook and listen to music. She feels that her strength lies in her ability to work in a team and her weakness is her tendency to indulge in new clothes and shoes!
Jamna has been with the foundation since October, 2007, starting at Asha Kiran. A calm, soft-spoken and gentle lady; she is currently working as a helper at the Centre for Vocational Training. She enjoys working with the older kids and helping them with their daily needs.
She feels that the foundation is a place where everyone gets the opportunity to learn, to grow and develop their abilities. Jamna enjoys listening to music, just like her husband Suresh who is working as a driver at the EIC. She has two young sons, one studying in the 5th std and the other in the 1st std.
Asha undertook her training with the Foundation and is now a fully qualified assistant teacher at KV School, working there since 2009, as well as helping at Latika Vihar in the evenings. She is excellent with all the children, providing each individual with the attention and means of handling they require.
She is cool headed, although says that this job has helped her control her impatience, and she never fails to be of maximum help to all who need her. She is glad of all that her job is teaching her in the field of special education, and demonstrates real passion for the cause.
Komal learnt of the foundation when her mother would drop and pick up a kid everyday at Karuna Vihar. She was keen to be associated with LRF and first volunteered for 6 months at the Child Development Centre before she permanently joined as a helper in 2011. She is gentle and compassionate, and loves that her job involves working with little kids for the most part of the day. She also enjoys the staff interactions and the friendly atmosphere that’s present at work.
She stays with her family which includes her mother, brother, sister-in-law and her niece, Anushka. She looks forward to weekends so that she can spend time playing with Anushka or indulge in a game of badminton with her friends. She completed her BA graduation in May 2013 and hopes to stay connected to LRF in the times to come.
Vinod is a special member of staff at KV School, having been a student there himself, followed by a trainee at CVT. He is very grateful for all that the Foundation has helped him with, and therefore is delighted to be able to help others at the school with special needs to develop as he did. He provides general assistance at Karuna Vihar, and prides himself on his improved interaction and communication. He is extremely efficient in following instructions, and works hard to be a punctual and reliable member of staff.
Team Maya Devi is the force behind the cleaning in most of our Foundation’s centres. Maya has been working with us since 1999 and her quiet, backstage presence is as invaluable as it is unobtrusive. Cleaning for such an Empire, particularly when many of its inhabitants have trouble making it to the bathroom in time, is a formidable task. Maya is just the sort of person you want running the show.
No-nonsense, tough as nails and with a heart of gold, she makes sure everything gets done, and done well. Her large family (five sons and one daughter) assist her whenever and wherever necessary, making her one of the few people in the Foundation who almost always gets her work done: if she is sick or has pressing work elsewhere, one of her brood jumps into the breach. That’s why we call her Team Maya Devi. Like everything else in the Foundation, it’s a family approach.
Simple living and high thinking …is how Anshali’s describes herself.
Anshali joined Latika Roy Foundation in June 2013 as a Physiotherapist. She has done her graduation in physiotherapy from HNB Garhwal University and says having got a chance to work in a foundation like ours as her first job opportunity, is something she will cherish forever.
Her strengths are her positive attitude, quick learning capability and an easily adaptive and friendly nature to whatever environment she may be put in. In her free time she enjoys listening to music, cooking and reading books. Traveling and exploring new places, whenever she get a chance, is something she find most interesting.
Originally from Chandigarh, Nayamat camped all over the country with her father being part of the Indian Army. She then married her childhood friend, also an Army Officer, and settled in Dehradun.
Nayamat has a Master’s and M.phil degree in Clinical Psychology. After two years of studying and working in Calcutta life brought her to the Doon Valley. Nayamat says that she had consciously decided not to work as she just loved Dehradun and wanted to enjoy the essence of the place, but when she read about the foundation in the newspaper and got herself to Latika Roy Foundation, she just knew that here was where she belongs. In a weeks time she was on board and now works in two of our centers – College of Vocational Training and Child Development Centre as the Clinical Psychologist.
She enjoys reading and anything that sounds adventurous. Her ultimate dream is to set up a village for the disabled and to provide them all the amenities and services they require for a bright future.
How does a mother of 3-year old quadruplets manage to maintain her calm demeanour in the face of all the crises which occur in the course of an evening’s activities at Latika Vihar? If you take the time to talk to Archana, the resource person for art and craft of the project, you realize that she can turn her hand to just about anything, and wants to turn her hand to just about everything!
A graduate in Biology, she followed up her Bachelor’s with a PG diploma in Advertising and Marketing, is currently pursuing her MA in English, and intends to take up an MA in Psychology when she has the time! She has learned to prepare 20 different types of cuisine, and her enthusiasm for different arts and crafts makes her ideally suited for the work she is doing. After the birth of her brood, she became interested in working with children, particularly through an NGO.
Her keen interest in social issues is reflected in her taste in literature; she enjoys reading Indian books related to social problems. She loves the friendly, creative, sociable atmosphere at LV, where mutual respect is practiced and the opportunities to contribute creatively and promote inclusion are unlimited!
When Umesh was invited to replace the sports instructor at Latika Vihar for a couple of months in 1996, he wondered what he could possibly do there. As soon as he arrived and stepped onto the field, however, he was told, “These are your kids. Play with them!” - and his die was cast. A keen and active sportsman in many different activities, from athletics to football and from discus to badminton, he found himself in his element, sharing his skills and enthusiasm with his young charges.
He has now been a mainstay of the evening programme for 10 years, and exclaims that he is totally satisfied with his work, which has taught him how to deal with children. A sociable, fun-loving character with a sense of humour as well as a sense of adventure, he is reluctant to miss even a single night at Latika Vihar. “You forget your age when you play,” he insists, and “Games are medicine for our minds.” This is a man who practices what he preaches. He enjoys meeting new people, listening to all kinds of music, traveling, dancing, and playing; at Latika Vihar he has found his niche!
Aditya has been a member of the Karuna Vihar family for the longest time, he was one of the trainees at the Vocational Training Centre (CVT), where he learned skills such as gardening, cooking, preparing clothes and making paper bags for Rainbow Re-Sale. Well trained by Rama Didi, he then joined the staff at Latika Vihar in the evenings, replacing his friend Chetan, who got a job elsewhere. Aditya takes his responsibilities very seriously, and applies himself to his tasks with tremendous concentration and care. At Latika Vihar he cleans indoors, waters plants outdoors, makes tea for the staff, and helps everybody.
A somewhat shy young man, over the years Aditya has gained a great deal of confidence as well as skills. He rides his bicycle to work (and everywhere else he can!) does his job effectively, and enjoys joining in group games and activities. A keen sportsman, he plays cricket, football, and other ball games and lifts weights at the gym with his older brother.
Bharat has been a mainstay of the Latika Vihar evening sessions for the past seven years. A potter by profession and inclination, he teaches pottery at a high school during the day, throws clay with the children at LV twice a week, and runs a pottery business from his home. A natural with both the staff and youngsters, he enjoys his work, which looks much more like fun to most of us!
Appear at LV, on his evenings and you’ll find a group settled around his wheel in rapt attention, eagerly awaiting their turn to create, entertained by Bharat's easy and experienced hands. Arrive at his home – around Diwali – and you will find the entire family hard at work, creating diyas and puja items – every inch of space, including the rooftop, is covered with his handiwork all drying in the sun. He and Rani Devi have a daughter and two sons, all of them love going for family picnics whenever he has free time.
Shyam Singh, a bamboo weaver and an artisan, has been with the Foundation since 1999. His sessions at Latika Vihar are always thronged with eager children and they carry home the amazing array of things they make under his guidance with pride and excitement. His gift for teaching may be even more impressive than his skills as an artist - and those are prodigious!
Shyam Singh loves a creative challenge: he makes the Ravan for Dusshera every year for example and each year he vows to make it bigger and more dramatic. So far he has succeeded. A gentle, innovative man with a deep love for children, Shyam Singh embodies all that is best in the Foundation.
Anita has worked at Latika Vihar since 2008, and has recently started helping at Karuna Vihar School in the mornings. She does all she can to assist all the staff wherever needed, not least hydrating them all as they arrive, and then sending them on their way with a lovely cup of chai.
She lends a hand to all the different activities, and is meticulous in the monster clean up operation at the end of each evening. The delight she gains from being around the children is evident, and she appreciates all that she learns from watching some of the other staff at work. She has an invaluably calm temperament, and applies her utmost effort to her job.
In 2008 Babita began as a staff helper at Latika Vihar, however, she quickly developed wonderful relationships with all of the children, and staff alike, and was assigned the additional role of tending to one girl, Shreya, who has particularly prevalent special needs. Despite demonstrating 100% commitment to minding Shreya she's still a great friend to everyone at Latika.
Always smiling, and taking the time to interact with anyone who approaches her. She is very patient, yet motivated, and is so proud of the help she's offered Shreya, and the developments she's making as a result, but most of all, she enjoys being part of the very happy atmosphere of Latika, and offers more than her fair share to that positive vibe.
Dilip grew up at Latika Vihar and was always one of our most active members. When he turned 16, he became a volunteer in our Band of Boys, a group of older LV guys who take responsibility for events management, grounds maintenance and lending a hand whenever required.
One summer, Dilip was selected to attend a special training camp for Bollywood dancing where he so distinguished himself that we decided to give him a job at Latika Vihar teaching younger children what he was learning himself. Dilip is a cheerful, funny young man with a gift for English conversation, making friends and watching out for the little ones at Latika Vihar.
Tapasya was an active and vibrant member of Latika Vihar and, as a talented dancer and one of our Gang of Girls, often took responsibility for helping the littlest children in the dance classes. Occasionally, when we had no formal teacher coming in, Tapasya would take over and teach the whole class herself. Finally it dawned on us: why not just hire her?
Though she was only 16 when she began, she quickly became a reliable and conscientious staff member, eager not only to share her skills but to learn new ones. Part of her salary goes for taking Indian classical dance lessons and whatever she learns about Bharatnatayam, she comes straight to Latika Vihar to share with her young students.
Dressed in a tracksuit with a copy of her CV on a pen-drive, 19 year old Aakansha knocked on our door asking if there was any work for her, after her mother insisted she find something to do apart from waking up at 11am every day. She started off as a volunteer but soon grew to be loved greatly by the staff and kids at the foundation which led her to take up a permanent job at the foundation.
Today, only 9 months down the line, Aakansha (smartly dressed) is project coordinator at Latika Vihar, possibly the youngest but at the same time an extremely diligent, meticulous and punctual staff member.
After completing her 6 month diploma in Audio Engineering from Bangalore, Aakansha briefly worked with a studio in Dehradun. Luckily for us, she realized that, that was not her cup of tea and joined us shortly after that, first at Karuna Vihar, then at the Child Development Center and now finally at Latika Vihar. Aaskansha believes her interest in social work developed over the months of her working at LRF; she went on to say that she has changed in more ways than one after coming here. Her over-hyper nature has been tamed and her friends and family vouch for her increasing humility after joining the foundation.
Currently pursuing her BA, Aaksansha hopes to go to New Zealand to pursue her Masters in Social Work 2 years from now but we sincerely hope she will be back with us even after that!
It’s almost impossible to come up with something entirely new for an art and craft session 3 times a week for 5 years. But not for Archana Pal. Extraordinarily creative and artistic, this young woman is always bursting with energy (and new ideas!) for her evening art and craft sessions at Latika Vihar. Archana joined us in 2008, and what particularly drew her to LRF was its steadfast belief in the concept of inclusive education.
A BA graduate, she initially volunteered for a few months at Karuna Vihar and then undertook the Assistant Teacher’s Training course in 2009, which she says played a huge role in giving an impetus to her confidence and her skills as a teacher, after which she joined us at Latika Vihar. Extremely attracted to the study of kids with special needs, she hopes to further her education in the same field and wishes to see herself as a special educator sometime in the near future.
Archana has been an exceptional addition to the Latika Vihar team and it is only fair to say that she is one of the reasons the kids leave Latika Vihar with that gigantic smile (and also perhaps a self made napkin holder, pen stand, lantern, etc!) on their faces!
A bundle of invigorating enthusiasm combined with an abundance of talent, Khushboo comes to Latika Vihar twice a week to share her flair and passion for dance with the kids. Khushboo used to come to Latika Vihar earlier but then took a two year break to focus on her education (she is a B.Com graduate). However, she missed working with the kids so much; she knew she just had to be back! And we were more than happy to welcome her again. Most would be surprised to learn that as a kid, Khushboo was afraid of dance and never thought of pursuing it as a hobby, let alone a profession.
But with a little encouragement from her aunt, she started participating (and winning!) school dance shows and eventually joined Bharatanatyam classes. Presently, she juggles her week between teaching academics at the Montessori School, training to be a professional Bharatanatyam dancer as well as teaching dance at Latika Vihar. She says she enjoys LV so much because she feels completely tension free and relaxed when she dances with the kids. And when dance isn’t consuming all her time, Khushboo loves going out with friends and even travelling to new places!
Anjali grew up at Rafael Institute in Dehradun, where she worked for a year and a half as a volunteer in the school for children with special needs after earning her DSEMR (Diploma in Special Education – Mental Retardation) and doing her nursery teacher training. When she heard about a job at Karuna Vihar, she applied, but for reasons which remain a mystery her joining letter, which included her starting date, never reached her.
It was pure coincidence which led her to drop into the office at EIC on the very day she was supposed to be embarking on her new career with LRF! She has been working as a special educator with us since 2004, and grows more confident and knowledgeable as each day passes. She adores young children and is applying herself to the expansion of her skills in English, physiotherapy, and other aspects of her work. A natural talent with creative interests in drawing and embroidery, Anjali is one of our budding young stars!
When a new van was recently donated by a generous EIC parent, Suresh was the obvious choice when it came to finding a responsible driver. His three years of safely transporting children at LRF are ample testament to his reliability, but his meticulous driving record stretches far beyond this. In 17 years of driving vehicles of all sizes and description, he has never been involved in an accident or been issued a ticket; his clean record speaks for itself. Suresh first became acquainted with Jo back in 1988, when he worked as a gardener for PSI and the Chopras.
After some years in Delhi, he returned to Dehradun to settle with his wife and two young sons. He clearly enjoys working with children and takes his job very seriously. When not behind the wheel or with his family, he takes an active interest in accounting and has been known to lend Vandana a hand in the main LRF office.
Geeta has been with the foundation since 2007. She slipped into her role as a helper so comfortably and she does everything that is asked of her with a lovely smile. Geeta has two sons, Udit and Bobby. Her elder son used to be regular at EIC and enjoyed playing with all the kids. Recently, he joined a mainstream school. Geeta is a big asset to our foundation.
Come rain or shine, we know we can rely on her completely. She is always ready for new experiences and interactions. She adjusts and accommodates herself well and does her job with ease. Mostly calm and quite, Geeta tries hard to remain inconspicuous at EIC; but her bright and warm smile and helpful nature gives it all away and one can’t help but notice her!
Susheela Rawat - a gentle and soft spoken lady, joined Asha Kiran 7 years ago. She trained under Mona Bhatnagar who used to give her small, old and damaged cards to practice on. At Asha Kiran she used to make gorgeous, hard to resist designs on cards and other products. She has two sons, ages 10 and 14, and her husband is a gardener at P.S.I. Recently, she is appointed helper at the EIC. She does her work enthusiastically and sincerely.
In her free time she likes to take long walks and collect flowers.
When Soniya joined Karuna Vihar School as an assistant teacher in September, 2006, her sister had already been a member of the KV family for 10 years. Soniya’s interest in working with people with special needs was spurred on by Monika, who is presently a trainee at the Vocational Training Centre. Soniya saw what a difference the school made in Monika’s life, and her own, and when she was invited to visit the school for an interview after she completed her B.A., she was quick to abandon her notions of becoming a flight attendant and to jump on board our ship!
In the short time she has been with us, she has gained confidence and experience and made impressive strides in her English. Her care for the children is second to none, as is her fervent desire to develop her expertise in the field of education for children with special needs. A responsible young woman whose sister is a very important part of her life after the school gates close each day, Soniya brings with her a warm, natural approach, a mischievous sense of humour, and a love of painting, animals, music and dance, cooking, and the latest fashions!
Pooja has been a reliable and efficient office co-ordinator at the Mama EIC since October, 2009. She joined us having completed a BA, followed by an MBA in HR and Marketing at Delhi University. After 9 months working for The Tribune newspaper, she brings far more than just the well developed computing skills she gained there. She never fails to greet with a refreshing smile and hosts fantastic relationships with the EIC's children, parents, and staff alike.
She prides herself on her organisational skills and ability to communicate with all varieties of people, helped by her more than competent grasp of English. Her sunny nature and enthusiasm make her the perfect candidate to sit front of house at the EIC, welcoming all those who visit.
Mayank is a particularly special member of Mama EIC's staff, as, not only the first child to visit the centre, but also as an attendee of both Karuna Vihar School, and Karuna Vihar CVT. Here he excelled in his training and was inspired to spread the knowledge and skills he attained there to his friends, and others with special needs, particularly those he learnt in candle making.
He loves being the gate helper at the EIC, and has proved us all right by doing much more than just satisfying the job's requirements. He is very passionate about the work that the Foundation does, having helped him to realise a strong faith in himself and his abilities, and as a result really enjoys playing a part in its operation. He is particularly proud to be able to travel independently to the EIC, no longer depending on one of the Foundation's vans to take him.
Anju’s association with the foundation began in September 2011, when she first took up the job of a physiotherapist at KVCDC. However, in January 2013 she joined the Early Intervention Centre and she says the jump from working with older kids to younger ones has been refreshing and enjoyable.
What she loves most about working with LRF is the healthy social interaction that’s always present between the staff and even with the kids. She likes that the staff members are more friends than just colleagues. Originally from Meerut, Anju moved to Dehradun to pursue her physiotherapy degree at Doon Paramedical College. She is now married and lives with her husband, in laws and lovely daughter, Kashvi in Dehradun.
When she gets time off work, she enjoys staying at home spending time with and pampering Kashvi!
Soft spoken, patient and reliable, Meenu joined us as a part of the helping staff at EIC in July 2012. She helps the staff and children in classroom activities and helps out in the kitchen whenever needed. She had never planned to work with kids with special needs but she believes it was all destiny’s work and feels like she is a good fit for the job at LRF. She lives with her husband and daughter, Bhumika in Dehradun and uses her free time to spend time at home with her loving family.
Meenu is a dependable and hardworking staff member who always gives the best to whatever she takes up and her only hope is that she continues to do justice to her professional and personal responsibilities.
Naresh has been a part of the EIC team (and the LRF family by extension) since December 2012 as a physiotherapist. He works hard to make an assessment of the children that come to EIC and then design exercises for each one, fitted to his or her own capabilities. He tries to include the exercise in the child’s play routine so as to keep the child entertained and fulfill the purpose of the exercise at the same time. He completed his BPT from SBSPGI in Balamala, Dehrdun, then did his MPT (Masters in physiotherapy) from Himalayan Institute of Hospital Trust and took up his first job with us at EIC.
While in college, he never saw himself working with special kids; however now he enjoys his job and working with the kids greatly. He lives on his own in Dehradun and even engages in his own private practice when he has the time. On weekends, he loves travelling to Rishikesh with his friends as he is passionate about water sports-especially river rafting!
Inspired by her mother who spent many years with the foundation as a Senior Special Educator, Rashmi first volunteered at Karuna Vihar and Latika Vihar for short stints before joining as a full time counsellor at the Early intervention Centre in 2013.
Rashmi received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Hons.) from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and completed her Master’s Degree program in Counselling from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Rashmi has had the opportunity to work and contribute as a volunteer, in a number of settings engaging in issues with respect to mental health, inclusive education and child development.
Besides being an animal lover Rashmi has varied pursuits of interest in dance, music, travelling, reading, writing, and adventure sports. Rashmi also greatly values curiosity, creativity, autonomy, collaborative effort and individual differences. Her professional areas of interest include research in the field of psychotherapy and counselling, working with children, adolescents and families, and the use of creative and expressive therapeutic work.
Ambitious and optimistic, a perfect combination to take one far ahead in life. Gulistan joined Latika Roy Foundation as a Special Educator in August 2013 before which she spent a year each working with Step-by-Step, Potential and Sparsh respectively; all non –profit organizations based in Delhi. Gulistan has done her B. Ed and M. Ed specializing in learning disability. Thereafter, she completed her M.A in Clinical Psychology.
Ever ready to take on any challenge that poses itself in front of her, Gulistan never fails to give her best to whatever she does and ensures that there is no compromise on the hard work put in to produce a flawless output. We wish her the best and look forward to her long association with us.
Kushal is someone who pops up all over the place - at CVT, the LRF office, and Latika Vihar. He is always friendly, always outside, always helpful. One of our gardeners, he comes from Garhwal, where he learned to make things grow. Now he is putting his skills to excellent use, beautifying our grounds, ensuring that our green spaces expand and flourish! He joined the foundation a year ago after 7 years of gardening work in other locations in the Doon valley.
He has two children of his own, but the whole LRF family depends on him. He enjoys the working atmosphere at the projects, and has been particularly helpful at CVT, where gardening is one of the activities that the trainees and students are learning under his careful tutelage and with his steady support.
Basanti is a helper at Karuna Vihar School, one of those much appreciated people who do whatever is needed, whenever it is needed. She accompanies students to and from school in the vans, assists in the classrooms, and performs numerous other tasks in the course of a school day, playing a vital role in keeping the programme running smoothly.
She first became acquainted with the foundation when her son, Vinod, enrolled in the school, and since she joined the staff in ---- she has built up a reputation as a hard-worker, a respectful colleague, and someone who is always ready to help in any way. She has a lovely daughter, Jyoti, and Vinod is thriving at CVT, while the children and staff at the school benefit from her support and attention. She greatly enjoys being with children, and says that her own attitudes and ways of working with young people have changed through her work with Karuna Vihar, which is more like family than work.
Rachna joined us in June 2007 as part of the awareness team; later, her strong background in Art and Craft found her working at Asha Kiran as the production supervisor. She knew about the Foundation as her niece attended the Early Intervention centre. So when she heard of an opening, she just knew it was the perfect place for her to join as she really appreciates the philosophy of our foundation. Her ability to remain calm under pressure had proved a great asset to Asha Kiran and her synergy with the ladies there has resulted in some wonderful art work. Since June, 2008, Rachna is working as the office coordinator for the Centre for Vocational Training (CVT).
She has an admirable quality of interacting with everyone she meets with ease and genuine interest. Rachna lives with her in-laws, husband and son who studies at the Doon Presidency school. She loves to go for long walks and listen to music in her spare time.
Khem has worked at CVT since 2007, teaching candle and envelope making, having really developed an interest in and passion for working with young adults with disabilities during his time with the Raphael Foundation, before joining us. He is extremely attentive, and provides each trainee with the help they need to perfect the skills involved, demonstrating patience, and successfully communicating the step by step process required to achieve the best final result.
He is delighted to be able to help others do the things that he enjoys himself, and is particularly proud when the trainees reach the stage of being able to help and guide one another, having successfully grasped the creative process. Half of the current trainees are now able to enjoy independent candle making, which is fantastic.
Hema is a product of the first batch of our Classroom Assistants course. One of the best students needed a job and at that time we needed a person on our awareness team – a perfect match. After working for almost 4 years on the awareness team and 1.5 years in KV as office coordinator, Hema joined CVT in early 2013 as a trainer. She helps the trainees with vocational work which includes making envelopes, file folders, pouches, etc. She is a BA graduate and taught in a tiny private school for 5 years – there was one student in the single classroom and she was the only teacher on the first day of school!
By the time she left (motherhood duties) the school had strength of 350. She stayed in touch with kids by running a tuition class at home, the only exception being visiting the house of a special child whom she spent time with and taught for two hours every day. Hema and her husband Surinder have lived in Dehradun for the most part of their lives. Their son, Sarthak and daughter, Tapasya have both worked with LRF. Sarthak was the salesperson at Rainbow Resale and Tapasya taught dance at Latika Vihar. Hema dislikes sitting idle at home and so even on weekends she spends time an at old-age home, orphanage and has recently started giving tuitions to young kids!
“Diagnosis doesn’t matter. What matters is the ability of the individual person”, says Samar Ghosh, one of our best physiotherapists who has been highly instrumental in helping many of our students sit, stand and walk independently. As a kid Samar always thought he’d pursue a profession in something related to computers but his close friend (the son of the Director at the hospital) had Down’s syndrome and he was Samar’s inspiration to explore more in the field of special needs. Samar, along with Mr. Robert Kumar started Anugrah, where he worked as a special educator and occupational therapist.
He learnt the basics of physiotherapy at Karuna Vihar and then finally went on to get a degree from Bareilly. He has been with us on almost all our projects and at most of our centres; he began at Khushi, then moved to EIC, after which he worked at KVCDC and now finally he’s at our College for Vocational Training! He believes that Manju Didi’s own passion for her work has encouraged him to always put his best foot forward and he thinks of it as more of a hobby than a profession. But physiotherapy is not as far as Samar’s talents go, one can see him strumming his guitar whenever he gets a chance and he is also the worship leader at his church!
Pushpa has worked for the Foundation since 2007, having previously been based at Karuna Vihar School, but despite being a new member of staff at CVT she has already established fantastic relationships with the trainees, and other staff alike. She works extremely hard, but manages to move around almost unnoticed, quietly and calmly completing her daily tasks, without causing any bother.
She is not only a fantastic cook, but a very reliable assistant to all who need her help, acting more as a friend than a colleague. She particularly appreciates being treated as equal with all the other staff, as well as the development in her decision making ability and confidence that she has gained from her job at the centre.
Gregarious and witty, Poonam comes across as someone who has retained her childlike innocence. She stays with her parents and her daughter, Akshita at the Forest Research Institute (FRI). Poonam has done her M.A (Hindi) and her NTT from Shivalik Public School. She used to get her daughter, Akshita to Latika Vihar and that’s when it struck her to be more than a parent and get involved in the project.
After a stint as a volunteer at both Latika Vihar and Karuna Vihar, she decided to work full time with us and we were more than happy to employ her. She started off as an assistant teacher at Karuna Vihar but since October 2012, she has been with us at CVT and she thoroughly enjoys helping the trainees in vocational work. She loves the freedom she gets to express her ideas at work and the family atmosphere that the foundation provides. Her hobbies include spending time with Akshita, reading inspirational books, embroidery and most importantly-laughing! Akshita is a sweet and chirpy girl who makes sure that she spends time with our kids when she has a holiday or vacations at school.
Ever ready to take on any challenge that poses itself in front of her, Poonam never fails to give her best to whatever she does. Professionally, she wants to learn more and develop her skills as a teacher. We wish her the best on both counts.
One must not be fooled by Sandeep Singh’s tough and intimidating physical demeanor as under that lies an extremely gentle and respectful man. Sandeep was introduced to LRF by his best friend Manoj who worked at Karuna VIhar before his unfortunate demise. Initially he was a little hesitant to work with special kids as he was used to seeing them being ill-treated and abused at his hometown in Garhwal and was afraid of not knowing how to handle them but after a little encouragement from Manoj, Sandeep decided to give it a shot.
Today, 9 months later after suitable experience and training, Sandeep with his smiling face gives away the fact that he is now extremely comfortable and truly relishes working with the trainees at CVT. As a helper at CVT, Sandeep assists the trainees in whatever they might need help in, be it activities, in the kitchen or even in physiotherapy. When he is not busy with his job or studying for his final BA examinations, he loves travelling to catch up with his close friends and family.
Geeta worked at CVT before leaving to have a beautiful baby boy called Amit in 2009, but rejoined us as an assistant at both Karuna Vihar and Latika Vihar at the start of 2011. She certainly brings her maternal skills to work, and is fantastic with all the children, whether it be assisting them with the set activities, or just pushing them on the swings.
She is delighted that working at the Foundation has enabled her to make so many varied friends, from children to adults, and staff to attendees. She is smiley and relaxed, but hard working and efficient, and is thrilled to be contributing to the communication of inclusion for all children; a message that the Foundation as a whole deems so important.
Nilam joined the foundation in July 2013 as the Project Head for CVT. She holds a Bachelor degree in Occupational Therapy with additional qualifications like Diploma in Entrepreneurship Management and Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Teaching and Learning. She carries with her 17 years of successful experience in management of rehabilitation projects for people with disabilities with leading NGOs and INGOs in India and Pacific region.
Nilam has worked in different settings like hospitals, schools and rehabilitation centres and managed people with diverse background and pursuits. Over the years she has attained vast experience in planning, implementation, networking, monitoring, resource mobilization, and staffing in resource -constrained environments. She has managed thriving projects like the - National Wheelchair Service Network, Papua New Guinea and Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centre and Sanjeevan Deep.
Having worked as a significant part of the education teams that help identify the needs of children with learning disability, Nilam has been able to effectively participate and contribute in making numerous individual education plans that aim to maximize the progress of a child with special needs.
Originally from Uttarakhand, Kanchan completed her Masters of Social Work in Disability Studies and Action from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. As part of fieldwork practice through her course, Kanchan got an opportunity to work with the Placement Cell in National Society for Equal opportunities for the Handicapped. Here she was part of a team that provided employment to over 300 persons with disability.
Having spent some time researching on the experiences of people with disabilities in accessing livelihood opportunities in Nainital district and seeing the struggle that people with disability have to face in order to get a job, drove her interest to work for the livelihood of the persons with disability in Uttarakhand.
She thus, joined Latika Roy Foundation in 2013 as Job- Placement Officer to provide employment opportunity to those graduating from our College of Vocational Training, with an aim to make them completely self- reliant.
Rakhi Gaur, attained her B.A and M.A degree in Economics from Meerut University, her B. ED degree from BeeHive College, Garwal University and N.T.T from Saharanpur. Inspired by her sister, who has now been with the foundation for more than 5 years, Rakhi joined us in July 2013 as a Vocational Trainer at CVT.
Rakhi comes with a vast teaching experience, having taught for four years in Alpine Public School, and for six years in Sneha Doon Academy, Dehradun. Besides teaching, Rakhi thoroughly enjoys dance, music, painting and cooking too.
Pooja joined the foundation in July, 2007. Her father is retired from the army and is working in a construction company and her mother is a homemaker. She has two sisters, who are both working. Pooja stays with her inlaws. Her husband, Jagmohan Rawat is working in a company at Jalandhar. Pooja has done her Masters in Economics and English from M.K.P College, Dehradun and a two year diploma course in Special Education (Mental Retardation) from Raphael. After completing her B.Ed, she went on to do an MSW (Master’s in Social Work).
She worked at Raphael for two years. It was her aunt, Rama Bhandari who encouraged her to apply for a special educator position at Karuna Vihar where she worked initially but when we started Gubbara, we knew her knowledge and skills would be of tremendous help to us there and since its inception, she has been the special educator at Gubbara. She likes the friendly environment at the foundation and it is evident that the kids enjoy being with her just as much as she enjoys playing with them. Her hobbies include listening to music, travelling and shopping. She is passionate about gaining as much knowledge as possible in the field of special education. She feels that her strength lies in her active and enthusiastic outlook to life and she hates to brood or think negatively about anything.
EIC is a busy place during the working day, and Reena is one of the people who keep it tidy and clean, ready for its next session. Quiet and gentle, she works tirelessly and efficiently, not only keeping the floors, children, and equipment clean, but also pitching in looking after the children whenever needed. The mother of a Karuna Vihar child herself, Reena joined the working team a year ago after her son, Rahul, passed away.
She enjoys spending her days at the EIC in the company of the staff and children, while we enjoy her calm, steady, positive presence. When she has the opportunity, Reena is keen to make progress with her reading and writing skills; she participated in the Literacy Movement Programme when she lived in the Garwhal. Her son, Aashish, is working at school and is a regular and welcome visitor to the KV projects.
Manik joined Early Intervention Centre in December, 2007 as office coordinator. His amazing sense of humour, ever readiness to take on any responsibility makes him truly indispensable. No work is ever difficult for him. Being a stickler for time, he is extremely disciplined. His wife Bhagirathi is a special educator in another NGO. He is a very patient and loving father to two lovely kids, Soumya and Ansh. To unwind, Manik plays mind twister games on the computer. He also loves traveling and adventure. Manik’s vast experience with other NGOs makes him a very resourceful member of the Foundation.
This is Namrati's first job as an occupational therapist, having only finished her studies in April, 2011. However, she is already making an impressive mark on the profession, let alone at the EIC. She studied at the National Institute for Orthopedic Handicaps, working on the development of adaptive devices that could help the progression of patients in any environment, whether it be at home, or school, and so on. However, she finds that the hands on work involved in her 6 month internship with R.G Kar Medical College and Hospital gave her the best possible preparation for working at the EIC, and was invaluable to her development as a therapist.
It was there that she realised just how much she enjoyed , and was fulfilled by working with special needs children. While she offers the EIC a substantial amount of knowledge, and plenty of positive characteristics, she appreciates how much the EIC is teaching her, in terms of handling, and responding to the needs of each individual child, as well as communicating with the parents in order to most successfully achieve what's necessary to aid each patient's development towards independent living.
Santosh is wholly committed to applying her maximum effort in assisting all the staff at the EIC. While she is new to the EIC she has worked with the Foundation as a whole since 2007. She not only ensures that the the centre is immaculately clean, and of great help in the kitchen, but effective in every area of the EIC.
She has fantastic relationships with the children, adults and staff alike, and enjoys learning from, and observing all the other staff at work, while exemplifying plenty of her own commendable qualities. She is sensitive and co-operative, and ensures all those visiting the EIC feel welcome.
Terrifically experienced and knowledgeable, Dr. PK Chandola joined our Gubbara team as our onsite pediatrician in April 2013. He did his MBBS from Meerut in 1974 and completed his DCH (Diploma in Child Health) from the University of Lucknow in 1992. He has 31 years of experience with the Uttarakhand government service and retired as CMO in district Rudraprayag in 2007. However, he wanted to explore more in the field of special needs. After extensively reading up and researching on LRF he knew he wanted to be associated with the organization and we knew his expertise would be invaluable to us at Gubbara.
He feels his work at Gubbara is challenging but is extremely glad to be offering assistance to the children that come. He lives with his wife and has 3 children, his daughter and older son are both married and his younger son is currently pursuing a PHD in biotechnology from Italy.
Ever since Rashi joined us in August 2011 as the psychologist at Gubbara, she has been an invaluable addition to our team. Her husband learnt about LRF from his friend, Rizwan Ali, and urged Rashi to explore the organization further. At that point, she had just left her job with the Central Government and was not particularly keen to start another one so soon but after visiting the organization and meeting with the staff and children, she couldn’t resist joining us. After completing her MA, she went on to do a B.Ed in special education with a specialization in visual impairment and she believes the knowledge she gained during her B.Ed has truly helped her understand how to deal with kids with special needs.
Her job involves engaging with the children and more importantly, the parents, counseling them on special needs and assisting them in making home plans for their kids. She is also currently pursuing a PHD in working for mental help for parents of disabled children. Rashi feels she has changed after coming to LRF; she is able to express herself better, has developed her communication skills and her tolerance level has increased.
She lives with her husband and son, Yash and is glad that can be both, a mother and friend to him. She has earned a qualification in Indian Classical Music and also enjoys cooking for her family and staff at Gubbara!
Rajnish is a young and friendly physiotherapist, who has been with us since March, 2008. When he talks of his large family back in Bihar, one can see the attachment and deep love that he feels for them. Rajnish did his Bachelors in Physiotherapy from S.V. Nirtar College, Orissa. It was by chance that one of his college lecturers met Aarti Nair at the All India Physiotherapy conference and got to know about the vacancy for a physiotherapist at our foundation.
Rajnish at that time was doing his internship when he heard about this and wasted no time in applying for the job. He worked for 5 years at EIC before joining Gubbara in early 2013. He now makes assessments regarding the needs of each child, then designs exercises suited for each one and finally advices the parents on how to physically handle their kids at home. He also makes various physical aids like helmets, in-soles and ankle foot orthosis for the children. He lives in Dehradun with his wife and his lovely daughter, Manavi. As a physiotherapist, he feels satisfied to see that he is able to make a difference in the lives of children and observe slow, subtle, yet rewarding progress each child makes.
His future plans include starting a clinic for adults with special needs.
Gentle and extremely approachable, Omi joined us in July 2009 first at the Resource Centre but soon moved to Gubbara where she sits with Rajesh at the helpdesk providing an endless number of people information about, not just LRF and special needs, but absolutely anything to do with the hospital. She knows exactly which doctor treats what illness, which ward is on which floor, which facility is available at what time-name it and she knows it!
Omi and her mother make up her family but she feels like she’s never felt the absence of more family as the LRF team is just like extended family. She says she feels at home even when she’s working at Gubbara. She has done her BA in psychology and learnt about the organization during a career workshop while she was still in college. In her spare time she loves to indulge in some cooking and experiments with new dishes when she’s at home!
Dehradun born and bred, Sunita got married in 1994 when she was 17 and moved to the the north of Uttarakhand to live with her husband’s family for 2 years. She then shifted to Dehradun, where her first child, Abishek, was born. While pregnant, she was hired by Jo to do some cooking and help look after Moy, which she continued in a part-time capacity after she became a mother.
She then took a break to raise Abishek and Neha until Jo called her back in 2001, this time to work as an assistant teacher at Karuna Vihar School. When CVT opened in 2003/4, she and Rama became partners, working with the trainees, helping them develop skills and confidence in a wide range of areas, from cooking to self-care, arts and crafts to gardening. These days Sunita is a very busy woman. She lives and works at CVT, looks after her family, and takes care of Moy when needed (and trains new carers). When she has a chance, she loves dancing and meeting and making new friends from around the globe. A sociable, lively, fun-loving member of the team, she spreads love and warmth wherever she goes!
This extraordinarily amiable and loquacious staff member whose grinning face you simply cannot miss joined us as part of the awareness team in September 2012. Originally from Haryana, Varun completed his BBA from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai and has worked with different NGO’s for 7 and a half years but moved to Dehradun in 2010. Varun works on the awareness team; he is diligent and confident when working and his best asset is probably his easy communication skills.
The grin on his face can be attributed to his marriage to Lakshmi Naidu in December 2012- someone he met while working with LRF! When his job or wife are not keeping him occupied, Varun loves watching television (be it movies, shows or even cartoons!) and listening to ghazals. He hopes to gain enough experience by working with LRF so that someday he can start his own intervention center. He’s been an extremely positive addition to our family, because of both his professional expertise and the fact that his humour filled presence can bring a smile to us even on the dullest of days!
With a career objective to work in a mentally stimulating environment where her skills could be optimally utilized, Charanpreet joined the foundation in December 2013 as a Special Educator. She holds a Bachelors of Science (Human Development) and Masters of Science (Psychology) degree from Delhi & Punjab University respectively. She had also completed her B.Ed (MR) from the University of Delhi. With her brilliant track record of holding a distinction position in all her educational qualifications, let us see how Charanpreet now performs in her Post Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation Psychology, which she is currently pursuing.
Charanpreet has worked both as a Special Educator and Child Psychologist in a number of schools and hospitals across Delhi, in addition to having undergone various training programmes.
Besides holding a keen passion for music, travel and books, Charanpreet enjoys observing different people and predict their personality types.
It’s quite easy to imagine Hema as the Latika Vihar kid she once was. Despite the years of experience, marriage, parenthood, and other maturing factors she has under her belt, she has successfully retained her energy and vigour, her sense of fun, and her delight in the present moment. When she completed 12th class, unsure of what to do next, and certainly not contemplating a career in special education, she was introduced to Jo, who clearly saw a young woman with potential to grow within the organisation. From 1999 Hema worked as Moy Moy’s carer, and after 3 years in this position, she got married and shifted from the Chopra household to Karuna Vihar school, where she was employed as an assistant teacher.
A few months after this change, she was asked to join the Latika Vihar staff in the evenings, co-running the sessions she had once attended herself! Currently she is placed as a part of the Outreach and Follow-Up team that reaches out to children in 4 districts of Dehradun. Her infectious enthusiasm and contagious laughter motivates the older kids to learn more and have fun while doing so. She has a delightful son Joy, who used to attend Karuna Vihar School in a reverse inclusion situation and now attends a mainstream school. Hema is a whole lot of positive energy packed tightly into a person of remarkably slight stature!
Prem is an extremely polite, soft spoken person and one would never realize at the first meeting that he is hilarious! He has a sense of humour that is so understated and gentle, yet rib tickling. Prem has his family in Sultanganj (Bihar). His mother passed away when he was very young and this meant playing a very responsible brother to his siblings. His father is a business man. Just like Rajnish, Prem also came to know about our foundation and the vacancy for a physiotherapist through his college lecturer who met Aarti Nair at the All- India Physiotherapy Conference.
He joined work in March, 2008. He was first with us at Gubbara but now he’s part of the Outreach and Follow-up tea. He likes the work culture at the foundation and feels that it is a very different atmosphere compared to the other places where he has earlier worked in. He takes care that he does not hurt anyone’s feelings and feels that striving to become a good human being tops his priorities more than his professional dreams. He is very gentle and affectionate with the children and makes sure that therapy is fun!
Pushpa, now Vice-Principal of Karuna Vihar School, Speech and Language Therapist, classroom teacher and a member of the Outreach and Follow-Up team, was one of three sisters, all of whom have become educators of one sort or another. Supported by their father, who always praised them and encouraged them to be independent, the girls grew up confident, believing that they could do anything they set their minds to. Pushpa earned a BA and MA in Economics before switching tracks and getting into the field of Special Education.
Once in, she was hooked, and went on to complete a Diploma in Deaf Education and her B.Ed. In October, 1996, her sister learned that a Karuna Vihar teacher was leaving to get married, and Pushpa was urged to apply for the position.
She joined the staff as a part-time speech therapist in November, and after a year became a full-time teacher, while continuing her duties as a speech therapist. Her skills as a therapist developed thanks to 3 years of on-the-job training which she did while working at KV, and while today she juggles all her roles with apparent ease, she would like to be able to devote more time and energy to this area of her work.
Ashok recently joined our team of drivers at LRF. Able to drive busses of any size, with a wide range of experiences behind him, we are looking forward to exercising his versatility as our fleet of vehicles expands in responds to needs in the coming years. Married with one daughter born in 2006, Ashok is a responsible, friendly, helpful new member of our team.
An enthusiastic greeting from Shewta Kakkar and you’d feel like your day just got better. Sociable, fun-loving but at the same time committed and conscientious when it comes to work, Shewta is one of the 7 members of the Awareness team and one of the 5 of the Outreach and Follow-up team, who is collaborating with mainstream schools to sensitize students about disabilities by conducting workshops, holding panel discussions, setting up a CMO helpdesk to issue disability certificates and also personally reaching out to kids in 4 blocks of district Dehradun.
After completing a diploma in child rights, she worked with street kids at another organization and joined our team in July 2012. She had little knowledge about different kinds of disabilities before she joined us but today Shweta can and will answer any questions one visiting the organization may have!
She believes the foundation’s motto, “Everyone is special”, resonated with her thinking and helped her look beyond former stereotypes as well as contributed to her awareness about kids with special needs. If this isn’t charming enough, Shweta’s favourite hobby is definitely one to learn about- she loves perosnally designing and painting canvas shoes!
Neelam’s connection to Karuna Vihar goes back to its earliest days, when its first location was across the road from her home, but it wasn’t until she finished 12th class that she actually considered working here. In January 2006, she started as an assistant teacher with one of the youngest classes at the school, then moved to CVT, where she worked with the transition class. By the end of 2006 she was part-way through her B.Com and had married, but luckily for us, hadn’t left town. In spring, 2007, she accompanied a young boy at the EIC as he started at a local school, and as an assistant teacher she supported all children in the classroom.
Neelam was a participant in the first batch of the Assistant Teachers training course conducted by the training centre. She passed out with flying colours and topped the batch. A quick learner and a caring, responsible, gentle addition to the staff, she has proved herself in every role assigned to her. Neelam lives with her husband and in-laws and recently delivered a lovely baby girl, Gungun. Since April, 2008 she is working at Karuna Vihar School as a Special educator. A deserving post for this hardworking, creative and calm young lady!
Deepa is one of the staff members who has been with the organisation the longest, 10 years at last count. She married young and raised three children, moving to Dehradun, where her husband had a job as a gardener at PSI. After his sudden passing, Deepa was offered a job as helper at Karuna Vihar School. Struggling to raise a family on her own, with no local family to back her up, she developed a support system within the LRMF family, and has given loyal service to the children and staff from the start.
Hard-working, energetic, eager to learn new things, she is sympathetic towards everyone. When she was working with students, she gave them her undivided attention, communicating effectively with her whole body, handling difficulties ably and encouraging throughout. She is now at the newly established Training Centre and enjoys helping the Asha Kiran ladies during the afternoons when she is relatively free. Deepa says that the LRF has helped support her family, but she has helped support her “family”, too, and her contributions are deeply appreciated.
Naina’s tryst with the Latika Roy Foundation goes a long way back when she would come every evening to play at Latika Vihar as a little girl. Her attachment was so strong that in 2008 she became a part of us once again, except this time as a staff member. Initially she helped at our Child Development Centre but joined Karuna Vihar Special School in August 2012 as an assistant teacher. Both her experiences have been different but enriching in their own ways. In the beginning, she was hesitant to plan activities but with the help and support of the staff she overcame that problem and today she is highly respected and appreciated for her motivation and commendable efforts.
She focuses on helping the children become independent and through her perseverance many of them can now eat, drink and sometimes even cook independently! She likes to believe she has two homes and two families- one with her husband and the other at KV with the staff and children who are just as much family. Naina is especially talented in the fields of dance and drama- something she likes to indulge in, in her free time!
Mahipal was introduced to the foundation through his friend Rajkumar and his relative who works as the gardener at LRF. Coming from Pauri Garhwal, he started working with us in June 2011, initially assisting at the Child Development Centre but presently he is posted as a helper at Karuna Vihar Special School. He plays a key role at KVSS, assisting the physiotherapist whenever need be, taking responsibility for supervision of all cleaning and other daily activities and even assisting the children when in class.
He confesses that after working at LRF, he has been able to curb and considerably control his short tempered nature and has gained extensive knowledge on therapy and management, something he never had the chance to learn earlier. Being someone with a genuine interest in strengthening his academics, Mahipal is simultaneously appearing for his 12th grade examinations and part of his dream is to adorn the army uniform someday!
With a Masters in Physiotherapy (muscular skeletal specialization) and a post graduate diploma in Yogic Science to his credit, Sandeep Malik has justly been a fortunate addition to the KV family. He learnt about LRF through his batch-mates, Anju Khanna and Sandeep Khanna, and officially joined us as a physiotherapist in August 2012. Working with children for the first time, Sandeep admits that he has only inculcated patience and composure in himself thorough his daily experiences at KV.
He resides with his wife, Nisha and son, Girik in Modi Nagar in Dehradun and has developed such an interest for his job that on weekends and holidays, he loves exploring and reading up on the latest techniques and treatments for kids with special needs so that he can offer his best when at work.
This charming personality recently joined us in October 2012 taking on the role of a special educator at Karuna Vihar Special School. She heard about the Latika Roy Foundation while doing her diploma in Special Education and after she learnt more about the foundation she knew that this just was the right place, one that fit her qualifications and nature perfectly. Even after just 6 months of working with us, she already feels like she’s learnt more than she could have imagined. Most importantly she believes she’s learnt about the importance of responsibility and perseverance. She feels a sense of pride to have found a job at LRF and her mannerisms and her way of executing her job proves that she lives up to it.
She lives in Balawala, Dehradun with her husband and son, Krish and enjoys spending her free time taking her son out on excursions. She also wants to work and help out with underprivileged kids in nearby areas in the near future. Dedicated and determined, this woman really believes in stretching herself to the maximum potential and we have no doubt that she will successfully continue to do so.
Originally from Nepal, Raj Kumar is a bright young man with a sunshine-y smile that never leaves his face; he has been with us since 2000. He started at Latika Vihar where his duties included keeping a strict vigil at the main gate to ensure that children do not wander away on their own, as well as overall maintenance of the premises. He interacted with the children and helped conduct various activities.
In 2007, he has moved to Karuna Vihar’s junior section as a helper where he actively assists in classroom activities. After completing the 6 month long CDA (Child Development Aid) course, he took on the role of assistant teacher at Karuna Vihar Special School in 2011. Good-humoured and full of exuberance, he is loved among the kids in ‘Sun Class’. His job involves making teaching aids and learning material, helping in class arrangement and most importantly, assisting the kids in self-help tasks. His hobbies include reading, dancing and playing a game of cricket with the kids next door!
Sunita joined Latika Roy Foundation in January 2014 as part of our helping staff at Karuna Vihar Special School. Having done a nursery Teacher Training Course, Sunita worked for about 6 years at an NGO called Samagra, after which she joined our foundation.
She now assists the teachers at Special School with a variety of works. Be it to arrange the classrooms or clean and clear the teaching space, Sunita happily assists in it all. She ensures everyone gets that much awaited hot cup of tea besides making other eating arrangements or walking to the local market to purchase all the essential requirements that come with the everyday running of a special school.
A dedicated and ambitious young man, Ashish works very hard at our Resource Center. His hospitable character is evident in the small things he does throughout the day: whether it's brewing fabulous chai or running errands for our staff, Ashish demonstrates an eagerness to play an instrumental role in our team. He is always friendly and welcoming, greeting everyone who comes in the door with respect.
What's more, he constantly commits himself to learning new things so as to help us with whatever we may need. His help and involvement in our Resource Center keeps us going throughout the day, and his bright smile lifts up everyone around him.
Rajesh joined the Foundation in May 2007 and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to staff our Help Desk at the Doon Hospital. Hardworking, proactive and helpful with great interpersonal skills; one can’t help but admire the way he handles his job at the Desk. The quantum of work and the stress of answering a hundred questions a day to help patients in the lobby of a government hospital is the perfect recipe for wiping the smile off anybody’s face – but not Rajesh you will never see him grouching and he does have the most handsome smile ever!
No wonder he has such good relations with the Doon Hospital staff. Full of initiative and drive he constantly gives us great ideas for improving our services. Rajesh is married to Hema who works at Karuna Vihar and they have a gorgeous son Joy, who is often seen playing at Latika Vihar. The whole family is an invaluable asset to the foundation.
After following the same routine and work plan at the State Bank of India for three years, this soft spoken yet resilient girl was craving for a change. Her friend Raksha offered her just that. Raksha introduced her to the foundation and after Chandra met Jo she was hooked! She formally joined the foundation in March, 2009.
A romantic by heart she loves listening to soft Hindi music . Her current favourite are songs from Fashion and Love Aaj Kal. This wandering soul has left no picnic spot untouched and regularly goes for picnics with her friends.
Mahadev has been our bus assistant since November 2007, helping ensure our students, trainees, and staff get from place to place safely. Despite working previously as a bus assistant for a school in Delhi this is his first experience of working with children and young adults with special needs and is delighted by all that the job is teaching him.
He has a developed confidence in his ability to treat each, individual child appropriately, and has learnt enough from observation to be able to assist with some of their physio-therapy. He doesn't view his role as a job, but rather as a social service, and is proud to be contributing to his society, as well as delighted to be able to teach those around him about people with special needs.
After completing his Masters in Commerce from Dehradun itself, Asish worked with the accounts departments at various companies until he finally joined us in August 2011 as our Accounts Officer. Asish handles the accounts of all the centers under the umbrella of the Latika Riy Foundation which involves preparing budgets, senior management, submitting reports to donors, etc.
He believes that his professional accounting experience has been significantly strengthened after he worked on real budget figures and reports at LRF. Most importantly, he enjoys the friendly work environment and the team work spirit present at the office. He lives with his wife, Archana and son, Amogh in Dehradun. He makes it a point to visit his parents and spend time with them whenever he is free from work, as on the weekends.
He personally feels the foundation and his work have changed him for the better; his short tempered nature has been replaced by a calmer and more composed one.
A chartered accountant by qualification, Madhvi heard about the foundation during her CA training when she did the statutory audit of the Latika Roy Foundation. In January 2013 she took up her first job as the finance officer in the accounts department at LRF and her knowledge, skills and expertise, all are precious additions to our team!
She, along with her colleagues handles all the baggage that the word ‘accounting’ brings with it which includes preparing budgets, senior management, submitting reports to donors as well as overseeing the accounting of all our centers. Madhvi has an eye for detail and almost never misses any numbers, an attribute of hers which is most helpful to us. Affable and outgoing, Madhvi luxuriates in excursions with friends, movies, and drives!
When Megha’s uncle lost his voice, it led her to visit LRF to seek help for his foundation. Thus began her journey with LRF, first joining us a volunteer in April 2012. However, she knew that she much more to gain as well as offer to the foundation and so she officially joined us in June 2012. Megha works on the awareness team and is active in working with mainstream schools to spread information regarding disabilities and involving students and professionals in learning more about the field.
With an MBA from Bangalore Management Academy, Megha is efficient and assiduous, qualities that have been unquestionably valuable to us. She asserts that working here has given her the rare opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life and feels like she’s finally found a job where she is not limiting herself to grow and learn with each passing day.
Originally from UK, Nicola is an educational psychologist who specializes in Inclusive Education and for 12 years she headed a UK special school for kids with a wide range of disabilities. Between 2000 and 2007 she travelled to India twice a year working mostly with the Tibetan Exile community as well as with local Indian groups in the field of special needs. In 2007 she retired from work in UK and moved to continue work in Himachal, and we were blessed-to say the least-when she joined the LRF team in spring 2012 as our volunteer Consultant in Inclusion and Disability.
She has been working to support the staff and children at each of our centers by holding workshops and other training, developing resources and advising on individual children. She has thoroughly enjoys working in India as she feels working in such an exciting and different culture really deepens your understanding of people, their needs and what “really matters”. Her knowledge, experience, ideas as well as her extensive resource collection is tremendously beneficial to the organization and we hope we can spread the practice of inclusive education much more widely with her help. Warm and friendly, Nicola is particularly fond of being amongst friends, children, green spaces and books!
It was by sheer coincidence that Nishant chanced upon Jo’s TED talk which really struck a chord with him and led him to further explore the organization’s website. It eventually brought him to LRF’s office and he joined us as the Awareness coordinator in May 2013. He is originally from Pithoragarh but completed his Master’s in Social Work from Jamia University in Delhi. Eager to travel, visit new places and meet new people, Nishant has worked in different parts of India including Rajasthan where he worked with tribals and rural communities on microfinance and self help groups and Delhi where he worked with the Fair Trade Forum of India.
As awareness coordinator, he plans to brainstorm ideas to bring in more college students and expand LRF’s connection to more districts of Uttarakhand. He lives alone in Dehradun and in his spare time he likes to-apart from travelling- watch different movies and he is in fact the proud owner of a very diverse collection of movies!
What would kids enjoy more than an always smiling, warm and extremely friendly face to pick them up and drop them in the van every single day? That’s Pratap Singh, an addition to our family which we are all grateful for. Pratap’s association with LRF began when he used to work at Jo Chopra’s house and then when he filled in for Thapaji during Thapaji’s operation. Exceptionally keen to have a permanent place with us, he asked us to inform him if there was any vacancy.
As luck would have it, we asked him to re-join us in January 2013 to drive the van to drop and pick up the kids every day. An ardent cricket enthusiast and a big fan of MS Dhoni, Pratap likes to entertain himself with a game of cricket with his friends!
Ram Singh is one of the first staff members to meet and greet about twenty odd children every morning! He previously drove tourist and other buses mostly travelling from Delhi to Dehradun every day before he joined the foundation in September 2012. He was introduced to LRF by his friend, Suresh Rawat and now drives the bus that picks up kids from all over the city, brings them to the various centers at Vasant Vihar and then drops them back home.
He is extremely fond of the kids and never tires of his routine as he feels each new day with the kids is better than the day before. He is married and gifted with two young daughters, Khushi and Kanishka and he loves nothing more than to spend his holidays with his little girls!
Little did we know that that the man who learnt about us for the first time when he saw the ‘Latika Vihar’ van on the streets of Dehradun would land the job of office coordinator at our Resource Center. Yes, that’s Sanjay Singh who became an integral part of our team in March 2013. After he saw the van, Sanjay was introduced to the organization by his brother-in-law, Samar Ghosh, a physiotherapist at CVT. With 6 years of working with NGO’s in the field of accounting and Sanjay now plays a vital role in looking after and managing the office’s activities. According to him, after coming to LRF he had the opportunity to learn about disabilities and its impacts on children in depth from the experienced staff members as well as by meeting the kids personally.
Through his previous jobs he was exposed to children being mistreated and suffering because they had some kind of disability and so now he is glad to be a part of an environment where there is unconditional equality between those who are normal and those who are differently abled. He completed his Bachelors in Scoiology, then went on to do his Masters in Social Work and is currently pursuing his PHD in village development. He lives with his wife, Basu who works as a staff nurse and his beautiful daughter, Mannat in Dehradun.
They say good things come in small packages. Who better to vouch for that than Seema, our petite but indomitable monetaring and evaluation coordinator? Having joined us in March 2013, Seema is new to the organization as well as to marriage! Born and bred in Ranchi, Jharkhand, she settled in Dehradun after her marriage in December 2012. She was looking for a job with an NGO and fortunately she spotted the Child Development Center board while strolling in Vasant Vihar.
Next thing she knew she was sitting in front of Jo for an interview and a few weeks after that she got found her desk at our Resource Centre. She did her post graduation diploma in rural development from Xavier Institute of Social Service but never thought she’d work in the health sector as she was never so much inclined to it. But the work of LRF struck a chord with her and she knew that she had found her calling. She loves that the atmosphere here is free spirited and yet encourages her to maintain a certain level of decorum. Still new to Dehradun, she loves going out and exploring new places with her husband.
You cannot run an organization without having a fundraiser and Saatvika joined us in April, 2013 to take up just that responsibility. She did her schooling from Welham’s School, Dehradun, and then graduated in Economics from Delhi University after which she took up a job as a risk advisor at KPMG. After 2 years of experience in the corporate world, she went on to do an MBA from Singapore Management University and returned to Dehradun in 2012 to join her family business. She continues to work with her father but spends two days of the week at LRF.
Incidentally, Saatvika took her cousin Devika’s position as fundraiser. She was impressed with what Devika had to say about her experience at the organization and eager to learn and experience more of it herself, she decided to take over after Devika left. Her plans include looking into the expenses, needs of the organization as well as drafting and sending proposals accordingly. She is hoping to increase LRF’s corporate relations and maybe even organize a fund raising event in the near future. Bright, efficient and conscientious, Saativika is a vital addition to the team. She is a talented dancer (she has trained in Bharatanatyam for 10 years) and not to forget, a badminton champ (she has played at school, college and state level!).