Don’t regret giving up career to help the special kids, says Shalu Singh
It takes guts to keep your career and ambitions aside and decide to dedicate your entire life for the upliftment of the specially-abled children.
However, she took the decision and is now taking forward the legacy of the first HT Woman (2011) Neeta Bahadur, who pioneered the cause of disabled welfare by founding Drishti Samajik Sansthan.
Shalu Singh, joint director of Drishti Samajik, who is also known as ‘Chhoti Neeta’, bagged the HT Young Society Leader Award at the HT Woman Award- 2018 for her contribution for the upliftment of the neglected kids of the society.
CONNECTION WITH DRISHTI SAMAJIK SANSTHAN
Neeta Bahadur’s son, Atharva was Shalu’s classmate. So, often visit the Sansthan to meet these special children, unaware of the fact that she would get so attached to them that one day she will give up her BTech programme, just to spend most of her time with them.
Shalu said, “I used to visit the Sansthan when I was in school. But from 2012 onwards, I started meeting these kids quite often. And later, when Neeta ji passed away in 2014, I started giving all my time to these children as the vacuum created by her absence could not be fulfilled by the random visits. Someone genuinely needed to give enough time to the children for helping them with their disabilities and at the same time making them realise their strength and potential.”
When asked what was the motivation behind the bold move, she said ‘the children’. She recalled that during one of her visits at the Sansthan, the children shared how they reached here. One of them said how his parents abandoned him and police brought him here.
“I couldn’t hold my tears after listening to their sufferings. I only wondered that how can parents abandon their children just because they have some form of disability. I cried for over two days. When I told my parents, they were also shocked. They met the children and since then they always encouraged me to help the kids,” said Shalu.
QUITTING ENGINEERING MIDWAY
Shalu left her BTech programme in the 2nd year in 2013 and got enrolled in a BA programme in 2014, so that she can spend enough time at the sansthan.
She told that her parents never discouraged her from following her heart and fully supported her decision of quitting engineering and give her entire time to the NGO.
On being asked if it was a difficult call to make, she said, “After looking at the children’s condition, I felt that they genuinely need me. We are privileged enough and have enough resources to make our lIves better. But these children, who were disowned by their own parents, have the support of the Sansthan only. So, I made the call and today, I have no regrets.”
NOT EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA
Sharing how she helped the specially-abled kids, she said that after joining the NGO, she set-up smart audio-visual classrooms for them and organized various interactive sessions which facilitated the children to learn tables/alphabets/rhymes in no time.
She told that Drishti has children with different disabilities, so they need to be treated differently. “Some kids are deaf and dumb, some are partially blind, some have some other physical or psychological deformity, so we have to understand the problems they face and have to help and treat them accordingly.”
She adds, “We organise various activities to identify their strengths and focus to develop it as much as possible, so that they can take it up as a career in the future and make way for themselves in the society.”
She also started some new vocational trades like quilling paper and cap jewellery, unique types of gel and wax candles, jute bags and mats, glass and wood engraving, pyrography and more.
Shalu is also training to the children in shooting. She has been instrumental in preparation of an Olympic standard indoor shooting range at the centre which is one of its kinds in the country.
Sharing about the upcoming facilities at the sansthan, she said that a hydrotherapy pool was in its final stage of construction on the NGO’s premises, which would help the kids with cerebral palsy and orthopedic disorders. The pool would be the first one in the northern part of the country, she added.
Shalu and Neeta’s son, Atharva (director of Drishti Samajik Sansthan) were classmates. And through Atharva itself, Shalu was introduced to the Sansthan.
After Neeta’s death, they both worked together for the noble cause and developed a good bond and got engaged last year.
Talking about her future endeavours, Shalu clarified that she has dedicated her life to the children and would always work for Drishti.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
On being recognised by Hindustan Times for her efforts and receiving award from CM Yogi Adityanath, Shalu said she was overwhelmed and such appreciation and acknowledgement always motivated her to work harder for the cause.