The Latika Roy Foundation is a registered society under the Indian Societies Act of 1860. (Registration number: 746/95-96 ). It was formed in 1994 by a group of friends to provide creative educational and therapeutic opportunities to children, particularly those disadvantaged by disability and poverty. Our General Body consists of individuals who are committed to helping us to achieve our goals. Many of our staff, parents and donors are part of this group.

The General Body meets every year in an Annual Meeting which is minuted. Every third year, it elects an Executive Committee comprised of seven members who serve for the next three year period.

The present Executive Committee consists of:

President: Dr Bhushan Kumar Joshi is an educationist, formerly the vice-Chancellor of Kumaon University and now an international consultant who specializes in assisting developing countries to establish school systems which work for every level of society. His most recent accomplishment is the founding of Dehradun’s first public library, a multi-crore state of the art endeavor in the heart of the city. His wife, Vina, runs an after-school program for school children to assist them with their homework and ensure their academic success.

Vice President: Tara Dewan joined the Foundation as a volunteer in 2006. She worked with Asha Kiran first, then offered to help us with the budgets for two proposals we were writing at the time. Once we realized what a gem we had in our midst (an MBA with a speciality in finance!), we asked her to take a proper job and she joined as Website Coordinator in 2007. That’s the official version. In reality, it is hard to give an accurate description of all that Tara did. From advising on financial policy and management issues to organizing events like parades and parties, Tara did her website coordinating in the wee hours of the night and everything else in-between. We discovered that she was also a brilliant fund raiser and that responsibility was added to her portfolio. But apart from all of the incisive and insightful wisdom she brings to the organization, what we love about Tara is her sense of humor and the joy she brings wherever she goes. Tara and her husband Sandeep have two lovely children – Naomi and Nihaad. Recently, she moved to Jaipur where she and Sandeep have constructed their own home, compete with a horse farm and a bed-and-breakfast hotel.

Treasurer: Sudhir VarmaSudhir Varma is a chartered accountant with a heart of gold and a mind like a steel trap. Recently married (at 51!) to a wonderful high school teacher named Veenu, he has been a trusted adviser to the Foundation for many years. Sudhir is the one who makes us check our figures, do the math, and work out the details. Although he is prepared to be charmed by the children and the dreams and the beautiful photographs, he also insists on careful planning and adherence to the rules. In the process, we have become more competent and responsible!

Secretary: Jo Chopra

Member: Vina SrivastavaVina Srivastava is, according to her daughter-in-law, the most beautiful woman in the world. The interesting thing is that this daughter-in-law is no longer married to Vina’s son. There are few women who would remain close friends with their son’s ex-wife – but Vina is no ordinary woman. At the age of 75, she is still vibrant and passionately interested in the lives of those around her. A professor of political science during her working life, she now provides a focal point for many younger people to gather around. She brings her wisdom and calm acceptance to all that we do and she makes us better people in the process – more thoughtful, more reflective and more accepting.

Member: Deepa Bhushan is a lawyer by training, a Human Resources professional by choice and a woman who lavishes time and concern on all those lucky enough to know her. Whether it is visiting an elderly relative with soup and sympathy or arranging an operation for a child whose family cannot afford medical fees, Deepa is the person you want at your side in a crisis. She and her husband Prashant – a Supreme Court lawyer whose specialty is public interest litigation – have three wonderful boys: Manav, Sumant and Pavan.

Member: Brother Dominic JacobBro Dominic Jacob is a Patrician Brother and well-known educationist. While he was Principal of St Joseph’s Academy, he invited us to start our first Early Intervention Centre there in 2002. Now Principal of St Mary’s in Delhi, Brother Dominic helps us with the practical details of running an educational institution as well as supporting us in our fund raising activities with timely introductions and sage advice.

Special Adviser: Shavak Srivastava is an old friend and a long-time supporter of the Foundation. A graduate of IIM, Ahmedabad, he is a successful entrepreneur and astute thinker and his ideas for our growth as well as stability have been integral to our development as an institution.

Policy decisions, shaping the vision and guiding the Foundation’s development is the responsibility of the Senior Staff Group. Senior
Staff, consisting of Jo Chopra, Manju Singhania, Sebastian Grüschke, Aarti Nair and Shubha Nagesh meets regularly as well as in special sessions as required.

The Core Group is comprised of nine individuals, all mid-level leaders and each representing a different project. The role of the Core Group is to report on each project’s activities so that communication stays fluid and open as well as to make plans and decisions about day-to-day operations within the centres. Core Group members meet with their respective teams before the meeting, convey project level concerns to the CG and then report back to their team afterwards regarding news, events or decisions reached.

The Core Group
Hema Masih

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 at the Centre for Vocational training as an assistant teacher. Her infectious enthusiasm and contagious laughter motivates the older kids to learn more and have fun while doing so. She has a small, 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!


Neha Joshi

Neha Joshi, a little sprite with a lot of energy! To describe her role in the foundation is tough. A website coordinator, a theatre teacher, a Latika Vihar mentor, an event manager, a film maker, a volunteer manager….phew! In one word she’s Ms. Multi-tasker. Her endless spool of energy spindles a lot into action in and around the foundation.
Neha joined us in April 2009 wanting to pursue her true calling, to work with children on a creative platform. Prior to Latika Roy Foundation she was working with NDTV Metro Nation as a TV anchor-producer for shows like ‘Super Shopper’ and ‘Feeding Frenzy: Lunch’.

Her saga with the stage began since the age of 5 as a dragon-slaying princess and up till date she has done several stage and street plays through – Welham Girls’ School, Hammad Farooqui’s troupe ‘Theatre Space’ and Hindu college’s theatre group ‘Ibtida’. She graduated from Hindu college as the secretary of ‘Ibtida’ where she did her B.A. (Hons.) in History. She has also completed her masters in events and public relations from Amity University, Noida.


Rizwan Ali

Sparkling eyes and a captivating grin – that’s our Rizwan. He is one of our newest staff and is already adding value to the awareness team. 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 recent 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! Marriage bells are ringing and by April he’ll be a married man. In his free time he likes hanging out with friends and listening to ghazals.Rizwan was recently blessed with yet another reason to smile, a handsome baby boy!


Sunita Singh

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.


Pooja Panwar

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.

Vandana SharmaVandana has only been with the foundation since March, 2004, but she is renowned for her hard work and dedication. An accountant from the start, she studied maths and accounting in 11th and 12th classes, then earned a B.Com followed by an M.Com before spending 2 years doing an internship with a firm in Dehradun, her home town.
When she responded to an advertisement for a position with LRF, she knew virtually nothing about special needs education, but her awareness and knowledge has expanded far beyond her ledgers, and she takes an active interest in what is happening at all the projects. A meticulous worker who believes that any mistakes she makes impact on the people the foundation is serving, she approaches her accounting with care and a strong sense of personal responsibility.As the organisation grows, she is enjoying taking on new challenges, stretching her skills, and keeping the finances in order. She appreciates the positive attitude which prevails in her work environment, the fact that it is a very secure place for women to work, and contributes much to this atmosphere with her own gentle, steady presence.


manju singhaniaManju 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!


dr sebastian gruschkeDr. Sebastian joined us as staff physician in 2006. Dutch by birth, he is married to an Indian and now settled in Dehradun. Sebastian is a specialist in Tropical Medicine, a little-known speciality which includes Pediatrics, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynacology and Infectious Diseases.
In addition to medicine, he is a gifted linguist and is fluent in Hindi, English, Dutch and German, has a working knowledge of French and Hungarian and can get by in Arabic! Sebastian is a computer wiz and has already revolutionized our database systems adding beautiful new intake forms and videography as an assessment tool.
He and his wife Preeti have two young boys – Shabaz and Sasha – the whole family is a wonderful new addition both to the Foundation and to Dehradun!


Nirmala KukshalNirmala 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!


 

Deepak PandeA graduate in Btech (ECE) from Banaras Hindu University, Deepak was born and brought up in the valley of Dehradun. He is married to Namita who is a doctor with the Government of Uttarakhand.Before joining the foundation as the Chief Operating Officer in April, 2009 he was a chip designer and manager with IBM. He loves spending time with his family and playing games with his six year old daughter Neha and a one year old son, Haardik.


Shivani KapoorShivani 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; she emphatically asserts that she continues to learn something new every single day. Her creativity, positive, “can do” attitude, openness and enthusiasm are inspirational!


Sumita NandaWhen 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 efficiency, intelligence and dependability earned her the post of office manager of the Resource centre in August 2007. She is also in charge of uploading content on the website and database development within the foundation. What is remarkable about her is her organizational skills, anticipatory planning and problem solving skills. 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.


Jo ChopraWriter, 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 NairAarti is a physiotherapist by training, with a special focus on children with cerebral palsy. As the mother of young 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. Currently, Aarti is on a sabbatical for a year. During this period, she will be doing an advanced training course in Bobath therapy in the UK. We are sure that with this added knowledge to her existing expertise she would bring in a host of new therapy ideas for our kids with cerebral palsy when she returns!


Pushpa Painuly

Pushpa, now Vice-Principal of Karuna Vihar School, Speech and Language Therapist, and classroom teacher, 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 her three roles with apparent ease, she would like to be able to devote more time and energy to this area of her work.


kv_manjuFull.jpg

Manju’s older sister, Madhu, was the first in the family to be employed by KV School. When Madhu got engaged, Manju was 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. 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. A quick learner who enjoys “catching” new ideas, her current learning phase involves watching her beautiful young son develop with each passing day.


Tara Dewan

Tara Dewan joined the Foundation as a volunteer in 2006. She worked with Asha Kiran first, then offered to help us with the budgets for two proposals we were writing at the time. Once we realized what a gem we had in our midst (an MBA with a speciality in finance!), we asked her to take a proper job and she joined as Website Coordinator in 2007. That’s the official version. In reality, it was hard to give an accurate description of all that Tara did. From advising on financial policy and management issues to organizing events like parades and parties, Tara did her website coordinating in the wee hours of the night and everything else in-between. We discovered that she is also a brilliant fund raiser and that responsibility had also been added to her portfolio. But apart from all of the incisive and insightful wisdom she brings to the organization, what we love about Tara is her sense of humor and the joy she brings wherever she goes. Tara and her husband Sandeep have two lovely children – Naomi and Nihaad. Recently, she moved to Jaipur where she and Sandeep are constructing their own home. They are planning to breed horses and run a small bed-and-breakfast hotel. Now that shall be a sure shot success with such an enthusiastic person behind it!