An Interview with Mrs. Deepak Kalra

There are few people who think about people other than their family and friends. And there are still fewer people who think about strangers with rare and strange abilities. In conversation with Mrs. Deepak Kalra, founder director of a special school Umang, the first school in Rajasthan dedicated to the needs of children suffering from Cerebral Palsy and Autism – Disha.

I was not a stranger to Mrs. Kalra as I regularly visit Umang, first because my brother go to this special school, and second because I cherish the moments I spend with the specially enabled children here.

VP: Ma’am please tell us, from whom you got inspiration of founding Disha?

Mrs. Kalra: Actually I founded Disha when my son was very small. I got to know

that he is suffering from a rare disease called Autism. When I searched for his treatment, I found that there is no or very little medication is available for Autism. And their also was no alternate training centre for children of special needs. Then I thought of founding Disha.

VP: The infrastructure in Umang does not match the standards set up by you only in Disha. What are your plans to improve it and from where the funds are proposed to be raised?

Mrs. Kalra: I agree with the fact that the infrastructure in Umang needs a lot and so we are working hard to improve it. We have already trained a lot of people of our staff as according to the needs of the students of our school. Some of the teachers from Disha have joined us here. We are trying to get more funds from the state government. Mrs. Beena Kak (ex minister of Rajasthan) is helping us in the endeavor. We are also working with some NGOs to get fund from celebrities and their shows. Our campus is regularly visited by eminent personalities like Salman Khan, Shiamak Dawar, Shiela Dixit, Smt. Vasundhara Raje, etc. We had also sent two paintings as a token of gift to Mr. Bill Gates in US and he promised us for help in all our future projects.

VP: For the knowledge of our readers, please tell us about the activities you do in the school with and for the special children?

Mrs. Kalra: In school, we provide our children with state-of-the-art facilities and specialized training. Normal education is part and parcel of that. So much so that some of our children have cleared 10th board from National Open School. We basically work in making the children compatible and competitive for the outer world. For instance we work to make our children independent in eating, toileting, dressing etc. Then we teach them to help in day-to-day household chores. Then we try to give them some vocational training like block painting, flower making, etc.

VP: Tell us ma’am, what are the projects that you think are still to be done and what are your plans for them?

Mrs. Kalra: We have made our school building almost barrier-free and we are trying to bring out legislation in this regard for normal public buildings. Its very important for society to get sensitize for the needs of the special few. Moreover we want to improve our very critical Vocational Training Unit and are looking for the help of

medical practitioners. We are also thinking of making an organized cell for the legal help of our children. There are other plans, but they will take time.

VP: For the ones, who want to help your children and school, please tell us how they can do so.

Mrs. Kalra: First, they need to realize that these children are children are so must be treated in a soft and understanding way. They are enabled in special sense and must be encouraged to work in the way they like. Funds and gifts are the other two major requirements. One can just come to the campus and can spend time with the children, which would be a help in its own sense.

VP: Thank you ma’am, it was a pleasure to talk to you. Keep giving your much needed services to our society.

Mrs. Kalra: Thank you.

Compiled by:

Saurabh Sharma