Beginnings are always exciting…
Latika Roy grew up in Bihar and though she had an overwhelming desire for higher education, she was married off at the age of 18.
But, through sheer determination, she taught herself English and then at the age of 22, escaped to Kodaikanal – already pregnant with her first child – to study education with the renowned Maria Montessori. Well after the baby was born, she returned to Dehradun, now a trained Montessori teacher, and started her own school. It started in a tent, but after adding rupee over hard-earned rupee and brick over hard-earned brick, she was able to construct her own school building in Dehradun.
Sadly, she died in 1992 at the age of 74, after suffering several paralyzing strokes. In her will she had expressed a desire that the Montessori School continue. Her husband, who nursed her through 14 years and by then, had a better idea of what a remarkable woman he had been married to, approached Jo and Ravi Chopra who lived in Dehradun to do something in her memory. (Ravi and Dunu Roy, Latika’s youngest son, were close friends from their college days.) In 1994, Mr Roy approached Jo and Ravi Chopra with a request and a gift: “Do something in memory of my wife”, he asked. “I’ll contribute 200,000 rupees.”
That’s where the Latika Roy Foundation began to form. But, the focus on helping children and adults with special needs sparked when Jo and Ravi Chopra adopted a little girl named Moy Moy.
Her mother was from the Himalayas and went into labor during a bus ride. Moy Moy was born on the side of the road 12 weeks premature, weighing in at 2 pounds. Her mother wrapped her up in a shawl and brought her into the hospital, where an American couple, both doctors, was volunteering. Her mother was planning to give Moy Moy – her 12th child – up for adoption. When the doctors about the baby, the woman said her sister would adopt her. The sister was Jo Chopra.
It turned out that Moy Moy needed a special school and there was none to be found in their city, so they started one. Now, 20 years later, Moy Moy’s school serves hundreds of children from all over the state and the country. Because of her, over a 100 people have jobs and a purpose in life that has transformed them into extraordinary bearers of good news in a world desperately in need of it.
“Indeed, whenever something needs to be done and the way looks dark and the task seems impossible, we think of the child whose whole existence has been a series of impossibilities and we realize, once again, that all things are possible with faith, love and the willingness to leap into the unknown. Just leap. The net will appear.”
– Jo Chopra, Executive Director of the Latika Roy Foundation