Linda Upadhyaya was a part of the Foundation almost since its inception. As our staff pediatrician, she was responsible for the assessment and care of each child in our organization, but her work went far beyond the simply medical. Linda was also a trusted counselor and guide for parents, staff and volunteers. In times of crisis, we all knew we could rely on her.
She also provided valuable organizational leadership as the Foundation grew from a small school to a major institution in the field of disability. Linda’s unexpected death in 2006 at the age of 46 left us all stunned and grief-stricken. Along with her husband Prashant and their children, Parijat and Emily, we have lost a dear friend and a wonderful doctor.
Vinita began her career at the Foundation as a volunteer. She had just returned to India from Dubai and was looking for something interesting to do. Her keen interest in education and the importance of play made her a perfect choice for us, and when a job opened as Office Coordinator at the EIC, she took it on. Vinita is special for many reasons, but one is her sweetness and charm.
She can literally get anybody to do anything, and feel lucky to be asked into the bargain. In all her dealings with hotels and travel agents, electricians and telephone repairmen, Vinita managed to make them each one feel important and valued: they truly wanted to help because she was always so aware of them as people. She is incapable of treating anyone with anything less than total respect. It's a lesson for life, and we still think of her example and continue to learn from her. She is in Dehradun for the summer, en-route to New Zealand, where we are sure she and her family will continue to shine.
Shaila was the first trained special educator we hired, one of the original Gang of Five. Shaila joined us soon after her mother’s tragic death in a car accident and the work became a kind of therapy for her. She threw herself into everything with passion and conviction and set the standard for how things should be done, particularly in her awareness and her writing. Shaila became Jo’s adopted daughter, and elder sister to Anand, Cathleen and Moy – her presence is electrifying.
She has a sense of humor which is painful for those around her (we laugh so much it hurts) and her way with words is simply astonishing. Somehow, when she is with us, we all sound smarter. Her little boy, Raoul, is the light of her life and her reason for being – she says she learned how to be a mother by being a special educator. If that’s true, we should all follow suit because her son is one of the wonders of the world.
Anand Chopra-McGowan grew up with the Foundation and was a charter member of Latika Vihar, and a major organizer even as a young boy. In his GAP year between high school and college, Anand worked as Development Coordinator at Latika Vihar and established systems there which are still in place today. From events management to computer filing, from branding to how to conduct a meeting efficiently, Anand thought of everything. Under his direction, Latika Vihar came to life as never before or since.
He renovated the centre, increased membership, brought in new programs and created a buzz which remains the standard we try to achieve even today. Anand graduated from Boston University in May of 2007 and is now working in a large advertising firm in Boston. His goal, he says, is to become rich enough to fund all of the Foundation’s activities.
Cathleen Chopra-McGowan grew up with the Foundation. As a child, she ran her own school – Little Angels - for neighborhood children from poor families. She would help them with their homework and coach them in English conversation. She volunteered for many years in various capacities, but finally took a proper job in our Awareness Campaign in her GAP year between high school and college. During her time with us, Cathleen worked at the Doon Hospital as well as in many of our outreach programs.
In addition, she was responsible for organizing a whole range of systems for the Foundation including filing, photo management, staff schedules and bulletin board displays. Cathleen brought a spirit of youth and vitality to the office that enlivened everything we did. We all enjoyed her imaginative and original ideas, while marveling at her maturity and intelligence. She is now studying at Boston College in the United States where she is Dean’s List student. She plans to go on for a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Theology and we have high hopes of her eventually returning to work with us.
Neha Uppal is Moy Moy’s cousin, settled in the United States. She came as a volunteer at Karuna Vihar school during her summer holidays in 2004 and was an enormous help, particularly in Shivani’s class where she took on the task of creating teaching aids in addition to assisting in all classroom activities.
Shivani said that having her in class made everything so much more fun, as well as allowing her to be an even more effective teacher. All of us were impressed with Neha’s maturity, sense of responsibility and commitment. She is now studying at Tufts University near Boston, one of the finest colleges in the country. We expect great things from her.
Noa Kisch is an art therapist from Israel who volunteered at K.V. for two months in the summer of 2003. One of the most vibrant and electric volunteers we have ever had, Noa enchanted all of us with her creativity, energy and vivid personality. She took part in everything we did, from swimming lessons to dinner parties to painting t-shirts, all with splashes of color and fun and pizzazz. Now settled in a rural area in Israel, she practices art therapy with children with emotional disturbances in a special school there.
Neha Agrawal and Beth Shirrell came as volunteers in the summer of 2006. Although they stayed with us only for three weeks, their impact was enormous. Both are frighteningly talented graphic designers, buzzing with energy and creative new ideas. They dazzled us with their imaginative approach to everything we wanted to do – we had only to mumble a half-baked idea and within minutes, they had a drawing, a design, a work of art ready for approval.
They raised the bar for us not only in the area of design, but in terms of how we look at everything. They were a testament to the importance of a really good education – fresh from college, they were using every ounce of their training and stretching themselves – and us – in the process. We’ll never be the same!
Monica Jain began working with the Foundation as Jo’s personal assistant. When Jo and her husband took on a study abroad program for an American university, Monica took on the task of organizing its administration. Mid-way through THAT program, she rejoined the Foundation to do the admin work for a national conference we were hosting and finally re-joined again as Office Coordinator when the American program closed. That kind of flexibility and willingness to do whatever is required are vintage Monica.
Always cheerful, always capable, always prepared to find a solution, she is a goldmine of ideas and jugars. She is now settled in Delhi with her husband, Pankaj, their little boy Harshit and a large joint family. She has recently begun working as the personal assistant to the Curator of the Jawarhlal Nehru Museum.
Sushma Malik joined the Foundation as our accountant in 1999. Immediately, we became more organized and professional as she established systems and demanded accountability. Our funding problems lessened with her careful budgeting and we all began to understand the principles of cash flow a little better.
As a person, Sushma was a wonderful addition to the Foundation and could often be found downstairs with the children conducting a science experiment or with the teachers practicing a skit or performing a new dance routine. When she left to get married and settle in Delhi, we were bereft, but still enjoy getting regular bulletins about her new job with the Centre for Science and the Environment, her husband and their little boy Pavith.
Terri Moyer came as a volunteer in 1999 and spent several weeks in the school helping in every possible way and falling in love with India in the process. Terri is a teacher by profession, with a special interest in working with children who struggle to keep up. For many years she worked as a counselor in the remedial centre of Derryfield Academy, where she taught study skills, time management and learning strategies.
In 2006, she finally got to fulfill her dream of living in India long-term when she accepted a job in Delhi at the American Embassy School, where she works in the Resource Centre for children with a range of special needs. We look forward to her frequent visits to Dehradun and her continued support of our teacher training programs.
Anu Sikka was just tagging along with her sister-in-law, a special educator who wanted to apply for a position at Karuna Vihar. While waiting for the interview to be over, Anu amused herself wandering around the classes and making friends with the children. By the time her Bhabi came out, Anu was hooked.
She offered her services as a volunteer and within a few months, we were hooked and offered her a job. She started as a special educator in 1999 and worked with us with devotion and enormous skill until her marriage in 2004, when she moved to Delhi to be with her husband. In addition to her creative and imaginative teaching style, Anu also brought fun and laughter to everything she did, and her constant high spirits and good humor made her a special favorite of students, parents and staff. We still miss her.
Rethi Nair came to meet us with no intentions of applying for a job. She just wanted to donate some of her daughter Chiti’s old toys. But we saw the sparkle in her eye and realized she was too good a catch to let go of so easily. We persuaded her to take the job of office coordinator at the school and soon we were relying on her efficiency and good judgment for much of what we did.
She was a delight to have on the team – funny, well organized, highly intelligent and very beautiful. Rethi and her husband Arvind are now living in Mumbai where she teaches full-time and orchestrates her daughter’s busy life (Chiti is a champion swimmer) as well as the care of their beloved dog, Millie.
Sumu was the assistant coordinator at Asha KIran since March 2005. His responsibilities included supervising the workers, creating new designs, and managing the accounts and budgets. At the same time, he was studying for his B.Com degree and was also the art and craft teacher at Latika Vihar in the evening programme.
Sumu left us in the July of 2007 to move on to greener pastures in Hong-Kong. We will always remember him as a well-rounded, sociable young man, who loved making new friends and taking up new challenges. One of his dreams was to raft “The Wall”, a particularly impressive section of the Ganges, and another to go bungee-jumping on his next trip home to Nepal. Sumu, let us know when you accomplish these feats!
Maya and Nicholas Rege-Colt came to us as the volunteers of our dreams in 2003. Along with their children, Leland and Manali, they became part of the Foundation family for a whole year. Maya is a specialist in early childhood development and Nicholas is a carpenter. She worked as the Development Coordinator at Latika Vihar, bringing fresh life and creativity to everything that went on there. He created a wide and wonderful range of special furniture for us ranging from a water play table to a ramp to a corner chair for one of our kids, in addition to working directly with some of the boys from the CVT who wanted to learn woodworking.
Nicholas and Maya, and their children, have such a delightful approach to life we couldn’t help but be transformed by it ourselves. They appreciate everything. Having them around – grateful for and amazed by the world and all it contains -made us feel so lucky to be where we are, living as we do, knowing the people we know.
Lizzie Austin was a GAP volunteer in 2004. A quiet, generous person who loves reading (Jane Austen is a favorite) craft and music, Lizzie brought a remarkable quality of dedication and insight to her work with the KV and LV children. She was reliable and committed and the children loved having her around, always ready to encourage and inspire them. Now studying nursing back at home in the UK, she stays in touch with us through regular emails and actual handwritten letters (one of the few of her generation who still know how to produce them!).
Shivani forged a connection with Karuna Vihar years ago, then vanished from the scene, only to be welcomed with open arms when she bounced back in 2007 as a fully trained physiotherapist! While doing her training at both the BA and MA levels, most of Shivani’s practical experience was gained in hospitals, but when she joined KV for 10 months in 2003, she was introduced to a completely different approach to working with people.
When, her training completed, she returned to Dehradun, she submitted an application at only one establishment: Karuna Vihar. Sociable and easy-going, yet highly professional, in a remarkably short time she created a niche for herself on the team. In an equally remarkably short time she found herself a suitor, got married and left for Ganganagar where her husband who is a Major in the Army is posted. We are hoping that they get posted to Dehradun soon - that way she will stay put for at least two years!
Pragya joined the EIC team as a physiotherapist in 2006, and before the year was out, she added her own child to the swelling numbers at the EIC! From an early age, Pragya knew that she wanted to pursue a career in a medical field, and physiotherapy, which she studied for 41/2 years at BA level, suits her down to the ground. Prior to joining us, she worked for more than 4 years with the Delhi Council for Child Welfare, doing physiotherapy with orphaned children between the ages of 0 and 10.
When she got married and relocated to Dehradun, she happily found LRF, which she appreciated for the great team work, the spirit of caring and loving, and the supportive family atmosphere. We were sad to bid goodbye to her and her beautiful son Khushu, when her husband got transferred to Delhi in October 2007.
When Harsha first appeared at a neighbourhood meeting, shortly after moving to Dehradun in 1996, her background seemed ideally suited to our needs. With a BA in Psychology and an MA in Sociology, a deep-rooted interest in social work and years of experience with the Spastic Society and Cancer Patients’ Aid Association in Bombay, she had a great deal to offer our fledgling organization. She joined our team as the part-time office coordinator and today fondly recalls her year with us as “the best period of my life”.
After a year her husband’s job took her away, but 10 years on she returned to LRF, where she took up the post as coordinator of Asha Kiran in October 2007. Her arrival breathed new life into the project, whose aim is to provide employment to local women and funds to Karuna Vihar. Harsha’s enthusiasm, dynamism, initiative, and drive, not to mention her long-time interest in arts and crafts, brought about a sea-change, and she has pioneered expansion and greater empowerment of the women at AK. History knocked once again and Harsha now lives with her husband Vivek and gorgeous son Kartik in Jammu. We are praying hard that the next posting for Vivek will be – Dehradun!
Shipra joined us in 1997 as the coordinator of Latika Vihar. It was very soon clear that she has a phenomenal gift for dealing with people. From encouraging children to participate in new activities to sweet-talking government officials into getting her work accomplished, Shipra has the perfect touch. When her husband died suddenly in Bombay in 2004, leaving her and her two children – Maya and Gautam – stunned and grief-stricken, it seemed as if their world had ended. Shipra’s graceful and courageous rebuilding of her life, including her return to the Foundation in a new and more responsible role, was an example to all of us in resilience, imagination and faith.
It also gave us the chance to witness the remarkable strength and maturity of her two wonderful children – now fine adults in their own right. All of us were deeply saddened when she had to leave the foundation in March 2008. She is moving to Delhi where she will be living with her son and also looking for a job. Her daughter, Maya, is going to be working on a Master's degree at Symbiosis in Pune. We wish her and her children all the very best in life!
Our resident counselor and member of the Awareness team, Geeta was raised and educated in Bombay, where she completed a BA in Psychology and her Master’s in Social Work. After her marriage, she started traveling as her husband’s career required. While posted in Assam their first child, Tejas, was born, and 5 years later they welcomed Manas into the family. Her pre-LRF career included counseling at a school for children with hearing impairments, a stint as a coordinator with an adoption agency, and 3 years as counselor and vice principal working with autistic children. When her husband was suddenly transferred to Dehradun, she heard about Karuna Vihar, and in July 2003 she joined the Awareness Campaign at LRF.
With her background, it was natural for staff to start referring people to her for counseling. She divided her time between the two areas, working with people in the community to raise awareness of the issues which affect people with disabilities, and counseling students, parents, staff and their family members from all the projects. Her quiet professionalism is respected by all at the foundation, and although her counseling is, by its very nature, low-profile, it makes a big difference. Geeta has moved to Mumbai where her husband is working with Reliance. She is also looking forward to work in the field of Social Work/Counseling. The support and warmth she had for the staff, students and parents will always be remembered.
Anju joined us in August 2007 as the office co-ordinator of KarunaVihar school. Shipra and Aarti spotted her while she was in the process of submitting her application for a job to a placement agency in a hotel and immediately knew she was the right person for our organization. Her sincerity and dedication to her work has proved them right.
She is efficient at multitasking, pays attention to details and works comfortably under tight schedules and deadlines. She and her husband Major Abhishek have an angelic daughter Angassi who is three years old. Anju loves trying out new dishes and relaxes while watching TV and reading. Anju had to leave the foundation due to health reasons and giving more time to her daughter. We wish her all the very best in life!
Pratima has brought with her to KV a wealth of experience of living and working with people who need extra support in their daily life. She grew up at Raphael Institute in Dehradun, and when she finished class 12 in 1988, she did her Diploma in Child Education at Chandigarh, then started working in a supervisory capacity at Raphael’s residential hostel for adults. In 1988 she completed a course in Delhi in Special Education with a focus on children with hearing impairments. In 2002, after 19 years of working at Raphael, she opted for a change and joined the team as a special educator at Karuna Vihar.
For a while she juggled this responsibility with being a housemother to 19 children in a hostel run by the Hope Project, which has started a school in a slum in Dehradun. Last year she made a decision to start working full time for the project. This meant a huge loss for KV school since she was a very caring, involved and indispensable teacher to our kids. Currently she is in-charge of “Hope Home” which is located in Signiwala village, 25 kms from Dehradun. The project works primarily in providing community-based awareness in health issues, education and employment. She is thriving on the responsibilities and challenges of her duty, and cares for her flocks with a mother’s love. When she has time, she enjoys yoga, watching movies, travelling, doing handwork, and playing chess and cards.
When Anjali joined the Foundation in April 2007 we were looking out for a Networking Coordinator as well as an Advocacy Coordinator. We were thrilled to have a MSW qualified young lady amongst us, and promptly handed her a mixed-portfolio – a two in one job! Not fazed out at all Anjali took on the challenge bravely and got to work. Officially, she was our Advocacy Coordinator and part of the Awareness team. Besides being a lovely person she was systematic, organized, well informed and very helpful. Anjali did her schooling from the Convent of St. Mary in Haridwar and went on to Graduate in zoology (hons) from Delhi University.
Her original aim was to become a doctor but changed her mind suddenly even though she had got through the BDS exam. Anjali had a keen interest in theatre and music and was a trained classical dancer; specializing in Odissi. This translated into a decision to do her masters in applied dramatics from Goldsmith College (University of London). It is a specialization in theatre in education, community and social context. She hopes to get into scriptwriting and creating effective scripts for disability issues. Though we shall surely miss her lively presence, we do hope that she returns to the foundation and implements all that she learns during her sabbatical for the further development and enrichment of our foundation.
Bhajan worked as a helper at the Vocational Training Centre and other Karuna Vihar projects since 2004, supporting staff, students, and trainees, pitching in wherever asked. A hardworking, enthusiastic young man, his eagerness to learn is infectious. Applying himself to the improvement of his spoken English, he used to take advantage of every opportunity to practice and expand his conversational skills. He enjoyed playing cricket, riding his bicycle, and reading.
Bajhan’s list of ambitions knew no bounds; he dreamt of learning how to drive, how to use a computer, increasing his understanding of banking, and much more. However, he also possessed a number of notable talents, including the ability to sing beautifully! Bhajan left the foundation in June, 2008. He is presently working at the Asian school. We wish him and his family all happiness and success in life.
It was only when her 3 children were almost fully grown that Rama discovered her niche in the field of special education. After completing her BA in Delhi, she married immediately after her graduation and spent the next years raising her family while moving all over India, which instilled in her a love of traveling and interest in new places and people. In 1991, her husband died suddenly, and a year later, still recovering from her great loss, Rama started volunteering in a special school associated with the Air Force, which had a nearby base in Delhi. Touched by the work and the children, in 1993 she completed a diploma in Special Education/Mental Retardation, and returned to Dehradun, where she and her family had a house.
In October, 1996, she joined the Karuna Vihar team as a special educator, and in 2003, when CVT was opened, she was put in charge of the trainees. Under her expert care they developed skills and confidence in cooking, gardening, preparation of products for Rainbow Re-Sale, and arts and crafts. The job thoroughly satisfied and energized her; she had never taken sick leave since starting here 12 years ago! Rama ‘retired’ in June 2008 due to her recurrent health problems and to devote more time to her family. She insists that she will continue to volunteer with us and we feel blessed to have her back with us in any possible way.
Ruchita joined us in July 2007 as the communications Coordinator. A mathematics graduate from Delhi University and with a MCA degree to top off her qualifications – she proved to be a fine asset to the foundation. Before she joined us, she was a mathematics teacher at Pestle Weed College even though she looked too young to be teaching high school!
The wonderful thing about Ruchita was her ability to work with equal ease, both, independently as well as in a team. When she’s part of a team, synergy happened naturally. What she liked most about the foundation is the friendly, nice, no-tension atmosphere. When her husband Ankur got a transfer, she left the foundation. She is now at Deolali, near Nasik. Ruchita and Ankur love traveling, listening to music and most importantly taking care of their German Shepard Buzo and gold fish Tooty.
Shy, smiling eyes and busy hands deftly creating original, arresting designs out of dried flowers – that’s the first impression. Saraswati learned flower-pasting after she joined Asha Kiran (a former LRF project) in 1997. She enjoyed what she did and loved coming to work, though she was also happy to create her cards from her home when there was a large order that needs to filled in a hurry.
Her husband works as a security guard at Sela Qui and the couple has a son and three daughters. They were very keen on their son joining the army, but unfortunately, an injury made it impossible. Their eldest daughter is studying in college and wants to make a career in the Indian Police Services. Saraswati loves watching comedy shows on TV.
Nirmala was appreciated by all for her creativity in the beautiful designs she made. She had been with Asha Kiran (a former LRF project) right from its inception in 1997. The mother of five, she has a son who is in the army and four daughters who are all studying in school and college. She liked the harmonious environment of the Asha Kiran workshop and enjoyed chatting with the other women while absorbed in her work. She feels particularly lucky that she and her husband have a home on the beautiful campus of the Forest Research Institute.
A steady hand, precision in design, neat, tidy and simply stunning is how one would describe Poonam’s work at Asha Kiran (a former LRF project). Never one to produce shoddy work in a hurry, she painstakingly ensured that each dried petal and leaf was perfectly pasted. A woman of substance, she has brought up her son and two daughters single-handedly since she moved away from an unsupportive husband.
She supplements her income by working as a part-time cook in two homes (in one, she is known as the Kitchen Goddess!). After a long day’s work, Poonam unwinds and relaxes whilst watching TV. She is also a Hindi movie buff.
Nileshwari, a fresh Political Science graduate from Delhi University, heard about a job opening at the Foundation through a friend. Having studied at Welham Girls and thanks to our awareness team, she already knew about Karuna Vihar School and the work we do. She joined us as the Office Coordinator at the newly launched Training Centre in July 2007 and from day one we knew that we had discovered a gem! Super-efficient, intelligent, confident, with an outstanding ability to organize events; she simply excelled in everything she did. We couldn’t help but expand her portfolio to include fundraising which she welcomed with enthusiasm.
Nileshwari lived with her parents and her younger sister Divyashree here in Dehradun until recently when she got married and is now flying off to Boston. We hated to let go off her but the thought that she is going to continue fundraising for us there provides some consolation. We are sure she will shine brightly in whatever she will do in future too. So here’s wishing her all the very best in life!
Satpal had the distinction of being the first employee of the Foundation. He joined us on July 1, 1994 and was one of the few remaining staff who actually knew Mr. Roy personally. After working for a year in Latika Vihar and then for five years in the school, Satpal transferred to the office where he was an administrative assistant. Satpal is a man of exceptional integrity and principle, whose loyalty both to the organization and to his family and friends is legendary.
Although he is not wealthy, he gives without hesitation to anyone in need and takes his family duties very seriously, often to the point of going into debt to help another. The Kheslas are a Foundation Family par excellence: Satpal's wife, Sheela, works in Jo's home and often assists in our centres in an emergency. Their eldest son, Ashish, is also working in the LRF office, their second son, Amit, is now in Class 10 and their daughter, Simran, takes tuitions from Karuna Chopra, Jo's mother-in-law and the namesake of Karuna Vihar. Satpal left the foundation due to recurrent health problems and wanted to 'retire' to set up his own small business so that he need not follow regular office timings which he was finding unable to stick to. We wish him the best in his endeavour.
An extremely calm, jovial and hardworking person, Monica brings joy and love everywhere she goes. Coming from an army background (her father was an army officer) she has traveled a lot, made a lot of friends and studied in different schools. She says that one sutra she follows in life is "laugh and let go". This was given to her by her guruji and she swears by its power to heal. Her husband is an "art of living" instructor apart from being a business man and Monica herself is an involved and ardent follower of Shri Shri Ravi Shanker and runs art of living classes for youngsters. Before joining the foundation she has worked in various schools as teacher and primary school coordinator. One person she admires a lot is her mother in law who she says is very loving.
Apart from being fluent in English, Hindi and Bengali, she is also very creative and is a talented painter. To unwind, she sings and listens to bhajans and gazhals. A proud mom to two adorable "angels" (as she calls them): Saral, a responsible and calm son and Pallavi, a curious and creative daughter, Monica says her weakness is that she cannot refuse help to anyone and she cannot stand violence in any form. Apart from all her talents, Monica is a very caring teacher and makes a lot of effort to make her teaching innovative and interesting. She decided to leave the foundation to devote more time to family and to manage her hectic schedule with her "art of living"classes. We wish her all the very best in life.
The Casio instructor in the Latika Vihar evening programme of fun and creativity, Soniya is a busy young woman with an interesting background and a promising future. She grew up in Dehradun, where she completed her M.Com and is currently applying to do a B.Ed, with an eye already focused on following this up with an M.Ed. Initially she attended Latika Vihar as a youngster, attending the Casio lessons given by the previous instructor, but when her teacher left in 2004, she took over the post.
It was her first job, and she remembers keenly the excitement she felt when she received her first ever pay cheque – for 150 rupees! Soniya is currently working as a pre-nursery teacher, gaining experience which she hopes will stand her in good stead as she pursues one of her dreams – to become a really good educator. Encouraged by her family to follow her heart and develop her mind, Soniya is very appreciative of the opportunities she’s had – and thoroughly enjoys the relaxed, supportive atmosphere at Latika Vihar. Soniya did get through B.Ed and eventually left us to complete her course. She is set to be married in September this year. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors!
Vartika, the dance and music instructor at Latika Vihar, is one of the longest-standing employees of the foundation. Apart from being a trained kathak dancer, she is a post graduate in Botany and has a Master's degree in Education too! Still eager to learn, she has recently enrolled herself for an M.Phil program along with her teaching assignment at a regular school. She is popular amongst all the children and staff at LV due to her affectionate and friendly nature.
One of her much-appreciated qualities is her readiness and willingness to contribute in whatever capacity she is asked. She has been the coordinator of the centre, an art & craft and cooking instructor and there is always the music - you name it, and she can do it – with enthusiasm and grace. Despite her busy schedule, she attends all the staff meetings, training sessions, and get-togethers. We simply cannot imagine LV without her! In her natural, warm manner, she is making a big difference in the lives of the young people she works, dances, and plays with. Vartika got married and shifted to Delhi with her husband. Latika Vihar surely misses this bundle of energy and knows that she will excel in any field she opts for!
Sushmita is a physiotherapist who joined EIC in October 2007 as a full time staff. We were well acquainted with her as she spent six weeks of internship with us while during her masters in Physiotherapy from SBSIPGS, Balawala, Dehradun. She was so good at her work that we didn't want to lose her. We made sure to follow up on her and waited until she finished her degree and then offered her a job with us. What is delightful about her is her passion for playing with children and her gentle way of handling them.
She is dedicated to her job, takes on any responsibility and doesn't want to lose any opportunity to learn more about her profession and improve her skills. We are indeed fortunate to have such a young, motivated and reliable staff at EIC who genuinely desires to get the best results for the little kids coming to our centres. She has recently got engaged to Abhishek who is an assistant system engineer at Tata Consultancy Services. In her free time she does oil painting, listens to music, unwinds with yoga and meditation and also plays badminton. Sushmita and Abhishek got married in November, 2008 and shifted to Delhi. We wish them both a beautiful future together!
Sonam joined the foundation in October, 2007 as the Creative Head of Asha Kiran (a former LRF project). She strongly believed in the delivery of excellent services, based on her creativity, innovation and understanding customer needs and priorities. Her expertise with managing her team on specific projects was admirable. This made her the perfect choice for networking coordinator, Rainbow Resale. Out – of the box thinking, customer satisfaction and delivery commitments are a few of the objectives of her vision. Her vivacious and outgoing personality manages to create a lively and conducive environment to work.
Sonam did her studies in hotel management and worked at the Jehnuma Palace (Heritage hotel) at Bhopal as the executive housekeeper. Her husband Dipankar, also in the same field works in Kazhaksthan where he has started operations for a hotel. Sonam has two charming kids, the elder one, Kimaya is in the 10th std and the younger one, Kaavya is in the 6th std. In her free time she enjoys cooking and baking and her friends swear by the exquisite dishes she creates. Sonam left us in April, 2009 to join her husband at his new posting in Bangalore. We wish them great success and happiness!
Raksha joined us in August 2007 as a much needed Accounts Assistant. Having completed her B.Com from D.A.V. College, Dehradun she did a 1 year diploma course in computers with Tally and worked for over two years first as a primary school teacher and then as an accountant for a construction firm before she joined the foundation. Raksha blended in so quickly, quietly and easily that everyone feels she’s been here for years! Vandana and she make a perfect accounting team – efficient, strict, decisive and effective. Raksha lives with her parents and older sister who unfortunately is a heart patient but this doesn’t get her down at all as she is very talented and knits and embroiders beautifully. Raksha loves playing Table-Tennis and listening to old Kishore Kumar numbers.
Raksha found her soulmate in Ranjan and got married in April 2009. She is currently based in Noida. We wish them a very happy married life and a great future together!
Pooja joined us in April 2007 as the Office Coordinator at our Main Office (now Resource Centre). As the Foundation grew we needed more people, especially for our awareness program and with a BA degree in Psychology she seemed to be the right choice. No problem said Pooja and effortlessly slipped into the slot - she is now the Office Coordinator for the Awareness Team. Puja taught English in a boarding school at Hardoi for 3 years before she came to us. She is gentle, sweet natured, very helpful and at the same time - a very independent young lady who prefers to live all by herself even though her family has a home in Dehradun. She has an elder brother, Vivek and her mother works in the Government Health Department. Born and brought up here, she schooled at Brightlands and later, DAV College. In the evenings she meets her friends and they have lots of fun together – she feels she never left college! When free from work and social commitments, Pooja likes to read and listen to ghazals.
Lively, talkative and a true extrovert, there is never a dull moment in the company of this young lady. Deepali joined the organization in July, 2008 and since then has proven herself to be a very hardworking, enthusiastic and efficient office coordinator at the Training Centre. Possessing a double MA in Economics and English, with Bachelors in Education, Deepali has worked in several schools all over North India. Currently pursuing a diploma in Customer relationship management from Symbiosis, Pune, she wanted a totally different job profile from that of a school teacher and to try her hand at office administration.
Her ability to think on her feet and be proactive has proved greatly beneficial in her work. She lives with her husband Major Narendra Negi at the IMA and feels blessed with the social life that the army provides. What she likes about our foundation is its informal and friendly atmosphere. She loves traveling and cooking and her dishes though experimental are delicious! An uncanny ability to make friends, a passion for networking and having a genuine warmth about her, Deepali has proved herself indispensable in a fairly short time at the foundation.
Kehkashan joined us in September 2007 as member of our Help Desk staff at the Doon Hospital. Born and brought-up in Dehradun she graduated with a Masters degree in Psychology from MKP College. She taught in a couple of play schools and tutored students from home before she joined us. True to her name which means ‘constellation’, Kehkashan sparkles in everything she does and is sincere, soft-spoken, methodical and very quick on the uptake.
Interestingly, our Awareness Team can once again take credit for recruiting this bright young lady who heard about us through a career workshop conducted in her college 3 years ago. Kehkashan lives with her parents and has two younger brothers – Sikander and Mudassar who have both opted to study commerce. She loves meeting people and making new friends besides enjoying dancing, singing and traveling.
Manmeet is the first person you meet when you enter Karuna Vihar and she truly epitomizes the place. Always ready with a smile and an answer to all your queries she is the one who makes the parents and visitors comfortable and at home. She is an MBA student from ICFAI, Dehradun but decided to join the Foundation as she wanted to do something that was more meaningful than making policies for multinational companies. In her free time she likes to read non fiction and philosophical novels and listening to Sufi music.
When Shaila was first approached to join the LRF team, she was living in the UK. As she thought about the proposal, she began to realize that it was exactly the type of program she wanted to be involved with. Moving back to India, she has dedicated her days and nights to Latika Vihar, befriending her kids, staff, and community. Her dedication to the program has shown real results, increasing attendance and building up the camaraderie between the kids and the staff. Under her guidance, Latika Vihar has broken records, but more than that it has evolved into an important force for social responsibility in Vasant Vihar.
The kids depend upon and watch out for one another while turning to Shaila for guidance and mentorship. It's a true testimony to the character of this lovely lady. Shaila unleashes her fun-loving and caring personality to transform the after school program while teaching our kids the values that make them engaged members of the community. Her creativity inspires everyone around her, and her drive to improve Vasant Vihar, Dehra Dun, and India is contagious. She is a gifted leader and a dedicated member of our team.
Super active and talkative that is how one can describe Soumali. She always has some interesting anecdote to share with the children who love her fiercely. She studied Human Physiology at Medinapur and decided to do something in the field of child development. This decision of hers landed her in AADI, Delhi. After completing her course in Development Therapy she worked with AADI for over 3 years before joining the foundation in January 2009. She loves to learn new songs and rhymes for children and is a talented pianist.
Never one to take things lying down Neha Joshi is always ready to stand up for her beliefs. After finishing her schooling from St. Joseph’s Academy, Neha went on to do her BA Economic Honors from Delhi University. She worked in the corporate sector for a while but her heart lay elsewhere. Soon Neha packed her bags and came back to Dehradun to work in the social sector. She joined the foundation in July 2009 as the awareness team member and has since proved to be an extremely valuable member of the team.
She left the foundation to do her Masters in Social Work. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors.
She is one principal who does not instill fear in the hearts of her students. As a child she wanted to grow up to become a doctor because she wanted to see visible results of her hard work, she wanted to work closely and directly with the community she lived in. Her dream to be a doctor may not have been fulfilled but her dream to see visible results and to work with the community has been realized. After completing her Masters in Special Education she opened two resource centers in the cantonment areas where she lived with her husband.
Archana worked as a teacher in mainstream schools for over 6 years, she also taught girls how to become ladies in a finishing school called Makeover. Finally in September 2008 Jo roped her in to become the Principal at Karuna Vihar. Her motto in life is ‘Celebrating Differences’ and she clearly tries to live life according to that.
At the age of 23 Priyam is one of the oldest members of the Foundation! She joined us in 1995 as a student at Latika Vihar then as a volunteer and finally in 2009 she formally joined the foundation as our Information & Documentation officer. She is a graduate in Economics Honours from Hindu College, Delhi University. She is an extremely friendly, polite and organized person who is always ready to help around.
Known for her quiet demeanor and efficient work Utpala has over 5 years of work experience in varied fields like Media, Education, Recruitment and Corporate Relations. After completing her Bachelors Degree in political Science, she went on to do her Masters in Human Rights from Pondicherry University. She also has a PG Diploma in Journalism and Mass Media from the International Polytechnic for Women, New Delhi. She shifted to Dehradun in 2007, she worked in several institutes but felt something was amiss.
She wanted to work in an organization that would do justice to her desire to make a difference and to her education. She decided to apply to the foundation after chancing upon our website and thoroughly researching about us! She finally joined us in December 2008. Utpala spends most of her free time watching movies with her husband, Amarjyoti, who is working with ONGC as a HR Executive. Utpala and Amarjyoti were recently blessed with a baby boy. Here’s wishing Kabir and his parents a great life ahead!
Sree is a talented teacher who easily could have become something else. After completing a BA in Psychology and an MA in Developmental Psychology, she got married and moved to Dehradun. Here she met Jo and other members of the foundation, who recognised that she would be a suitable candidate for a teaching post at Karuna Vihar School. Since January, 2006, she has proven herself to be a calm, caring, staff member whose talents stretch beyond the classroom.
A keen linguist, she has a strong grasp of 4 Indian languages plus English and French, and we get the impression she can effectively turn her hand t just about anything she sets her mind to! Her versatility and qualifications made her the perfect choice for the post of the Assistant Coordinator at our newly opened Training Centre. Her contribution to the recently concluded Classroom Assistants Course in terms of helping Manju develop modules as well as conducting training has been invaluable. Sree was recently blessed with a beautiful baby boy and we could not resist putting a photograph of the little sleeping angel.
This print journalist from Delhi has done her graduation in History Honours from DCAC, Delhi. After working with media houses like Pioneer and TransAsia, she moved back to Dehradun with a desire to do something for her home town. After hearing about the ideals and mission of the foundation she decided she had found her place and has not looked back.
In her free time one can see her penning down her thoughts in her diary or sitting in a quiet corner with a book and a cup of tea.
Though Manisha formally joined the organization in February 2009 her association with us is much longer. Her sister Shweta is a trainee at CVT and she is the reason why Manisha decided to join the Foundation. She had studied Fashion Designing at SAFT, Dehradun but she was keen to learn more about special needs so that she could understand Shweta better. In order to do so she joined our Assistant Teacher Training Course and volunteered at Karuna Vihar for 3 months. Once she started interacting with the staff and the children she just could not go back to fashion designing and decided to stay for good.
After completing her PGD in Special education from AADI in Delhi, Kanica worked in the Special Needs Department of the Heritage School, Delhi. She joined the foundation on January 19, 2009 as she wanted to work in a place where she could find mental satisfaction and where she felt at home. Extremely fond of painting she hopes to open a centre where children can learn social and life skills through art. She believes that working with children with special needs has taught her to be patient and how to enjoy the smaller joys of life.
Arzoo Bala is a postgraduate Neurophysiotherapist. She has great interest in treating the persons with Neurological Problems. The first step towards this was her decision to join M.P.T Neurosciences (3 Years Course at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Karnataka). After finishing her Bachelor degree in Physiotherapy. Spending three years in Manipal was like a great experience for her, every day there used to be so many learning.
Just as she was finishing her masters she got the job opportunity to work with Latika Roy Foundation, Dehradun at Early Intervention Centre (EIC). Every day is exciting for her; she wakes up and rushes to join the job, tired after the hard work returning back to home and a curiosity to meet again with kids at EIC. The achievement when a child starts to move to the next milestone is a reward for her, she feels so excited and with more energy and strength she start working again. She thanks God that she is so capable to make difference in their lives and she can bring more smiles on the faces of children.
Chantal is a special educator from France who has been working in the field since 1970. She first visited Karuna Vihar in 1997 along with Nirmala Kuksal , who was then working in another school in Dehradun. Chantal was impressed enough with KV that she asked if she could volunteer on her next trip to India. Unbeknownst to us, however, she also began a campaign to persuade Nirmala to come and work for us too. As a result, we not only got Chantal as a wonderful and creative volunteer, we also hired Nirmala, who has turned out to be one of our brightest stars.
Chantal’s relationship with Nirmala continues to this day. She sponsored her trip to France in April 2000, where she underwent excellent training in special education and later came to India for her wedding where she filled the role of her mother in the ceremony. Now that Nirmala has a child (Shubham), Chantal Nani comes twice a year to be with her Indian family and each time she makes sure to visit her dear friends at Karuna Vihar.
Namrata Sharma has been associated with the Foundation as a parent and a volunteer for over 6 years, beginning with the admission of her son Shalabh when he was just 4 years old. Shalabh is now 14 and Namrata has become an integral part of our work. Our most faithful Awareness team volunteer, she does a regular weekly stint at the Doon Hospital Help Desk and is an active participant in the conceptualizing and planning of the Awareness Campaign.
Her calm intelligence and lovely personality have won the hearts of doctors, nurses, and the public and we depend upon her for anything requiring diplomacy and tact. As a mother, she has been untiring in her efforts to form a Parents’ Association and, largely due to her, a special chapter for parents of kids with autism is active. She and her husband Abhilash also have a daughter, Saumya.
A 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.
Before joining the school in March 2011 as Office Co-ordinator at Karuna Vihar School, Aditi worked at Mama EIC between 2006 and 2007, taking leave to have a child. She was delighted to be back with us again, and said that the job had renewed her energy, which was certainly evident in the way in which she went about completing her tasks.
She was extremely efficient, in fact, almost regimental in her operations, but remained a warm and talkative individual, and this happy nature made her fantastic at communicating with the parents of the school's attendees. Her role was mainly administrative, but because she was one of the first faces to be seen by all visiting the school, her positive attitude was vital. Aditi has now chosen to spend her time at home with family but she remains in close touch with the foundation even today.
When he came to Dehradun from Kolkata, Jewel with his skills was in high demand, and as a result he lent them to many other ventures on top of his work at the school. He was a guest lecturer at the National Institution for the Visually Handicapped, a full time lecturer at the Biomedical College, and he also worked in the Doon School and ran his own clinic. However, he did not let these separate projects detract from his focus, and willingness to work hard as our onsite physiotherapist at KV School.
While he was very proud of the success of his clinic, and the positive role it played in the lives of individuals treated, as well as the community as whole, he was equally delighted by the results that his work was producing at the school. However, for all that he brought to us, he admits that KV School had helped develop his abilities too. He appreciated the challenge of working at the school, and the recognition of the patience and understanding required by each individual child that it had brought him.
Jewel moved back to his native Kolkata and is establishing himself as a physiotherapist there and we know that his proficiency is bound to do good wherever he goes!
Manoj joined Karuna Vihar School as a helper in the winter of 2006-2007, and it is fair to say that he fit in from the start, making a seemingly seamless transition. After completing 9th class in his village, he worked farming rice, wheat, and maize before moving to Dehradun to join his brother, Ravinder, who is a gardener at KV. After a short stint cooking and gardening in Vasant Vihar, Manoj was hired to support staff and students at the school, where he quickly settled into his work and started taking more responsibility. He enjoyed assisting in the classrooms, chatting with the students, learning from his day-to-day experiences.
His natural warmth and interest in others made him a welcome new addition to the team. However, Manoj passed away in a tragic hit and run accident in March 2012 causing us to lose one of our dearest friends. Just a few months later, his wife, Rakhi, took up his job at Karuna Vihar and through her and his beautiful daughter, Simran (just 5 weeks old at the time of her father’s passing), his memory lives on
Neha Joshi, a little sprite with a lot of energy! To describe the role she played while she was with us at 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 was Ms. Multi-tasker. Her endless spool of energy spindled a lot into action in and around the foundation. Neha had joined us in April 2009 wanting to pursue her true calling, to work with children on a creative platform.
Her saga with the stage had begun 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’. In 2012, Neha marries a Dehradun boy but then they both took off for the US and are presently based in California. They have every intention of returning in the near future and we couldn’t be more eager and positive about having them back with us.
Despite working as a counsellor and psychologist at Mama EIC since 2008, Ritu Srivastava has a lifetime of experience. She has a PHD in psychology from Lucknow University and a certificate in counseling, as well as many published books and papers in both Hindi and English.
Reaching Out Mental Health' (2001). However, her skills are not just impressive on paper. Her calm and caring nature made her approachability evident to all and any who sought her aid, and she was highly sensitive to the direction needed by each individual parent and child alike. As an understanding and trustworthy woman, she had established herself as a reliable source of advice for all, including her colleagues. She has now shifted to Ahmedabad and is pursuing a private practice. We are confident that her adeptness is making a difference to all the lives she touches there!
Sebastian had joined us as staff physician in 2006. Dutch by birth, he married an Indian and then 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 had 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 was a wonderful new addition both to the Foundation and to Dehradun. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Child Rehabilitation in the Netherlands. His wife and children remain here in Dehradun as hostages and we expect and importantly, hope, he returns home when his studies are complete in 2017!
In 2009 Sonika interned with our awareness team, based at the Resource Centre, but soon became an impressive, permanent member of staff. She showed great ability then, developing a comprehensive book of all the laws relating to those with disabilities, and completed work of a similar nature after that.
Her ambition was particularly apparent through the focus and drive she applied in communicating the importance of respecting the Right to Education Act; specifying that it is unjust to refuse those with disabilities a place in school. That was her first job since completing her studies as a lawyer, and while she enjoyed bridging the gap between theoretical law and practical law she demonstrated far more skill than that of an amateur then. Sonika is soon to be married and will move to Mumbai after marriage. Her capabilities and ardour will serve as a great advantage to whichever company or organisation she chooses to work with!
As a highly impressive member of her field, Sujata Sinha's prestigious investigations into intellectual and developmental disabilities made her an invaluable addition to the staff of Gubbara. Having not only founded her own non-profit organisation, she also convened the very first consensus meeting and created web accessible data for Thalassemia; a genetic disorder effecting a huge number of individuals.
This led onto an involvement in collecting, formulating, and then communicating data concerning the more general genetics of various different populations, and her area of interest was public health geometrics. Her work has produced extremely widely respected results, and she received the commonwealth government of Australia's Endeavour Executive award. Her work at our EIC was of a similar vein. Her aim was to go deeper than just a patient's symptoms, in order to establish a better understanding of the prognosis, and a more detailed management plan and she was successful in doing so! In addition, she is using the information collected to aid national studies into the different disabilities encountered.
She has now established the pioneering Birth Defects Project at the Doon Hospital – a kind of partner centre to Gubbara. The work of each centre complements that of the other and we are thrilled to still be collaborating with our former colleague.
Vandana was with the foundation since March, 2004, and she was renowned for her hard work and dedication. Having studied accounting and commerce, when she responded to an advertisement for a position with LRF, she knew virtually nothing about special needs education, but her awareness and knowledge eventually expanded far beyond her ledgers, and she took an active interest in what was happening at all the projects. A meticulous worker who believes that any mistakes she makes impact on the people the foundation is serving, she approached her accounting with care and a strong sense of personal responsibility.
As the organisation grew, she particularly enjoyed taking on new challenges, stretching her skills, and keeping the finances in order. She appreciated the positive attitude which prevailed in her work environment, the fact that it is a very secure place for women to work, and contributed much to this atmosphere with her own gentle, steady presence. Vandana moved to Gurgaon after leaving us and took up a senior finance position in a multi-national there, but remained always in touch and committed to the Foundation. In 2013, she married an Indian settled in the US and will be joining him there soon. However even today, although she may no longer be physically present at LRF, her contribution will always be an integral part of the foundation.
Vandana has worked for the Foundation since January, 2009, and was initially our training and education co-ordinator, but now plays a much more expansive role promoting inclusive education. She assesses children attending mainstream schools that have learning difficulties, and organises workshops for staff and parents to raise awareness of those experiencing such struggles.
As a teacher for fourteen years before joining us, she has extensive experience of mainstream schools, and particularly of those attending such schools who may not be definitely disabled but who still struggle to settle and be accepted. However, she enjoys the broader insight that this job offers her of the difficulties faced.
In making others so, she too has become more aware of the plight that can be faced by those with special needs, and is extremely proud to be inspiring change. She is doing a wonderful job of opening the eyes of those previously lacking knowledge, labelling herself as the Child Advocate, and making real steps towards greater inclusion for those with special needs and learning difficulties.