Sumana Mukherjee / New Delhi
The 8-year-old Navya (a fictitious name) from Jaipur, Rajasthan, was happy to come to Delhi where her father told her she would be admitted to a special school. She was born without sight. While walking on the roads in Delhi, her father made her sit at a place on a walkway and asked her to wait for him.
The father never returned.
Navya’s mother had passed away when she was a toddler. Her stepmother did not show affection towards her and was against her joining a special school in Delhi.
Her father brought her anyway and completed all the paperwork for her admission to a residential school for visually impaired children. The school asked him to bring Navya after a week for regular classes.
Kehkashan Tyagi with visually impaired artists
This heart-wrenching story is narrated by Kehkashan Tyagi, founder, and chairperson of Hosla Charitable Trust - a non-government organization based in Delhi, that looks after the needs of special children and other deprived and helpless humans.
A lady who was passing through the sidewalk found Navya crying. After knowing about Navya’s school admission, the woman took Navya to the place. It was in the school that Kehkashan Tyagi met Navya during a programme.
Speaking about her work, Tyagi proudly introduces Navya as a case study; the once-abandoned girl is today a central government employee.
Kehkashan’s Hosla (Meaning courage) stands as the pillar of support for physically challenged and visually impaired children who are deprived of love, care, and facilities. Kehkashan said that they have rescued many differently-abled children who were physically abused by their family members and close relatives.
“Such children generally don’t open up about their plight”, she told Awaz-the Voice. Her organisation helps them deal with their psychological trauma so that they prepare to deal with life without it.
Kehkashan spoke about Saanvi (a fictitious name) who turned visually impaired due to a disease in her growing years. She was being sexually assaulted by her father.
She grew up with horrible childhood memories but later found her soulmate while communicating online and got married to him to live happily ever after. Her husband is also visually impaired and works as a music teacher in a school.
Kehkashan Tyagi with Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
Saanvi’s life also changed thanks to the counselling and support of Hosla. The founder said “There is a strong need to counsel the children who have gruesome childhood memories, especially torture and excesses inflicted by the members of their families. We need to help them to get out of the trauma which may haunt them in the long run.”
Kehkashan Tyagi Worked as Director of the India Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). During this period, she came in contact with eminent cultural personalities from India and abroad.
However, she discovered many brilliant artists who were physically challenged and not gladly accepted for shows. It came as a big shock to her and she decided to create a platform for such talented but ignored artists.
Kehkashan, who was born into a Muslim family in Delhi, said “It was my dream to extend helping hands to those who are exceptionally talented but they neither have the family background nor dare to attract the limelight.”
She says, “Hosla helps differently-abled and visually impaired youth to learn Indian as well as Western music so that they can showcase their talent to the world.”
Hosla was established with its first stage programme in Delhi, in 2015. The registered office is located in North Delhi. Kehkashan never asks for any financial support for her organization.
She only requests those who can help, “Kindly have respect for differently abled people and invest your valuable time not money in helping them.”
After all specially-abled people only need our understanding to live a good life, she says.
Hosla teaches Indian and Western vocal music to differently-abled and visually impaired children who belong to the lower or lower-middle-income group of society and whose families can hardly afford to train them to shape their future. Not only vocal music, they teach dance steps to their students
The main focus of Hosla is to bring back the happiness that works as oxygen to such marginalized and discriminated against people. Kehkashan believes that people born with natural disabilities should be treated with much love and care just and not looked at as burden.
Kehkashan Tyagi with specially-abled artists on World Music Day
She says their struggle for survival makes inspirational real-life stories that could motivate people who despite owning a perfect and healthy body fall into depression and frustration.
Kehkashan is also engaged with another NGO that provides support for Dementia patients. Saviour group works for people who lose their memory. They live a miserable life as they are also completely neglected by their families.
The challenges for Dementia patients are quite different from those the physically challenged people. She says dementia is spreading like an epidemic among the elderly.
Kehkashan believes that Dementia, being a huge risk for the future days to come must be taken seriously, today.
Recalling her experience with people suffering from Dementia, she says she was touched to realize that such people, at times, don’t even remember their identity.
“They are helpless.” She experienced cases where people throw their elderly parents out of their houses due to their illness.
Tyagi also sincerely supports the transgender community. She says transgender people are always humiliated. She tries to get connected with international groups of transgender people and helps create awareness for them
She shared the story of a transgender lady who was thrown out of the job for no reason. Tyagi said that transgenders are facing injustice in society and they must keep fighting for their rights.
They have every reason to be happy and they should always get equal rights like other citizens in the society. Transgender people in the Western world have been given justice and equal rights, so Indian society must be liberal enough to honour their decisions protect their rights, and let them live with full dignity.
People like Kehkashan could live a joyous retired life but the fact that she chose to stand for her extended family makes her a real hero.