The Brave Ones:Ummul Khair

Fighting palsy, she learns

the alphabet at 21, graduates at 30

Karthika Gopalakrishnan | TNN 

Chennai: Ummul Khair has made the journey of a lifetime in the last 10 years. Her body is affected by cerebral palsy but it is her mind that the sociology graduate has always relied upon to take her forward — from learning the alphabet at the age of 21 to completing her college education almost a decade later.

“I was at Vidya Sagar when I was five years old but I could not go to school once my family moved to Bangalore. I was at home for nearly 12 years. I watched my cousins study and wanted to be independent as well. I did not want charity,” she said after receiving her degree certificate at the 14th graduation ceremony of MOP Vaishnav College for Women on Sunday.

During a family visit to Chennai, Ummul got in touch with Vidya Sagar founder Poonam Natarajan and that helped her on her way.


“We had looked after her all along and were scared about letting her stay alone.

But Poonam akka convinced us that Ummul could study. We had only thought about making her walk, never about making her study. Today, we are extremely proud of her. When we cry, she gives us courage saying she will study and do well,” said her mother, 65-year-old Umaira Batul, with tears in her eyes.

The family currently resides in Bangalore’s Shivaji Nagar. Umaira’s husband Mohammad Azham Khan (85) used to sew plastic baby sheets with pillows, diapers and clothes for infants. Ummul’s younger brother works at a hotel.

Since she had never enrolled in school, Ummul learnt the alphabet when she was 21 and took three years to clear the class X board exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling. After completing her class XII on a sponsorship at Lady Andal Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chetpet, she enrolled for a degree in Sociology at MOP Vaishnav College for Women.

“I am lucky to have got the opportunity to study. In all aspects, it has helped me learn. The teachers and students were always supportive. ‘Sari Day’ was one of the most memorable occasions as my classmates even helped me wear a sari. It was a lot of fun,” Ummul recounted.

Along with her internships in college — counselling alcoholics and working with a human rights organisation — her world view was further moulded after a trip to the US in June last year as part of the Global Leadership Programme.

“I participated in everything, even adventure sports where we were suspended 40 feet in the air. There is a lot of accessibility for disabled individuals in the US. I was able to go anywhere I wanted,” she said.

After returning to the city, Ummul went on to finish her course and is now pursuing a course in law at the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law College. Hoping to be able to fight for the rights of the disabled in a few years, Ummul was not at all taken aback by the standing ovation she received during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

The dignitaries on stage rose from their chairs and the students cheered. Unfazed by it all, Ummul exuded confidence. She knew she deserved it.

THE HONOURS: Ummul Khair receives her degree certificate from BS Raghavan, former chief secretary of Tripura. (Below) Students of MOP Vaishnav College For Women take the oath during the convocation at Kamrajar Arangam on Sunday

Warm someone’s heart today

Mr Watwani has sent this.

ONE OF THE BEST STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD!

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard .

Mrs.Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs.Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs.Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…He is a joy to be around..’

His second grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.’

His third grade teacher wrote, ‘His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.’

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.’

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.

His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, ‘Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.’

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.

The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’s pets’.

 


A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.

But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what?

She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

 

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, ‘Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.’

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, ‘Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.’

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone’s heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? tomorrow? just ‘do it’.

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it!

 

=======================

Unsung :Girl tops exam, beats disability

Girl tops exam, beats disability

Visually Impaired Is An Ace

Ikram Khan | TNN

Bangalore: She can’t see but is showing the way. Sumaiya Khan, 15, topped the exams at St Michael’s High School (RT Nagar) and promises to continue her sterling performance in college next year.
Sumaiya was adjudged the best student after securing 94% in her preparatory exams.

The gutsy lass, who has coped with darkness since birth, is looking to achieve distinction in the SSLC exams. “I’m studying eight hours a day and hope to get more than the preparatory exam marks,” she said.

“She is a brilliant girl. What amazes me is her focus and determination to challenge and beat the best. I’m confident she will do our school proud this year,” said school principal Naushad Nazir of head girl Sumaiya.

Her mother Nikath, a nursery teacher at the same school, said Sumaiya was a lot easier to teach, simply because she was always willing to learn and compete with normal children.

“She chose to study in a normal school and from the day she started, she has managed to top the class. She has won many debates and singing competitions. She loves challenges and that helps her scale new heights,” said Nikath.

After winning the Best Visually Challenged Student, a state award conferred by the National Federation of the Blind, a couple of years ago, Sumaiya was the lone child who made it to the final list of Horlicks Wiz Kids International School competition.

“I was selected from among 6,000 students and the onus was on me to make Bangalore proud. I gave it my best shot and all my teachers and friends were delighted and appreciated my effort,” said Sumaiyya. She made it to the final 12 round of the talent and quiz test.

Sumaiya was stood first in the International Chinthana Science exam and did well in the Winnova Genius Talent Search. Her favourite subject is social studies and she aims to give the civil services exam a shot. Knowing her steely resolve, her parents Abdullah Khan and Nikath are confident she will do well there too.

new-picture-4

Top French honour for Pondy Sanskrit scholar


new-picture-3

Top French honour for Pondy Sanskrit scholar

Bosco Dominique | TNN

BIRTHDAY GIFT: S Sambanda Sivacharyar, Sanskrit scholar and research assistant of French Institute of Pondicherry

Puducherry: He has been working more than 10 hours a day for the past five decades, collecting palm leaf manuscripts in different scripts from various parts of country and categorising them after researching their content.

On his 83rd birthday, S Sambanda Sivacharyar, Sanskrit scholar and research assistant at the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), got the pleasant news that he had been selected by the French government for one of the oldest and prestigious civil awards ‘Ordre des Palmes Académiques’ for his contributions to the study of the languages, texts, history and cultures of the Indian subcontinent.

The scholar, who joined IFP in 1969, extensively collected and studied Saiva manuscripts on palm leaves under the guidance of pandit N R Bhatt. He was instrumental in publishing critical editions of the Saivagamas, one of the 28 main texts (agamas) of Saivasiddantha (philosophy and scriptures of the Saivas), tracing the historical evolution of its doctrines and the Saiva ritual system dating back several centuries.

He is currently in charge of the upcoming edition of Suksmagama of the IFP, which has one of the richest collections of palm leaf manuscripts on Saivasiddhanta.

The institute’s palm leaf manuscript collections have been included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

The researcher said palm leaf manuscripts available in the institute were in several scripts including Tamil, Grantha, Telugu, Malayalam, Tigalari, Sarada, Nadinagiri and Newari.

His work primarily focussed on cataloguing the manuscripts based on their contents and transliterating the contents from one script to another, Grantha to Devanagiri script, for instance, enabling present generation researchers to access and understand ancient contents.

“IFP has about 8,000 bundles of palm leaf manuscripts mostly on Saivasiddhanta followed by grammar, palmistry and Thevaram in various scripts. We have categorised a little more than 25% of our collection and brought out several publications on Saivasiddhanta. transliterating the contents from ancient scripts to Devanagiri script,” Sambanda Sivachariar told TOI. He said in ancient times, Tamil-speaking people used Grantha script to write Sanskrit and most of the manuscripts on religious text were written in Grantha.

“The use of Grantha to write Sanskrit declined subsequently in the last century and Devanagiri became a widely popular script for Sanskrit,” he said.

Born on January 6, 1927 in a family of temple priests, Sambandan learnt temple rites at the tender age of seven from his father and the Vedas from eminent scholars before joining the Ahobila Math Sanskrit Padashala, Madurantakam. He studied at Raja’ College, Thiruvaiyaru and Mylapore Sanskrit College.

Before joining the IFP, he worked at the manuscript library of Theosophical Society and the Government Manuscript Library, Chennai and was also closely associated with the Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, Thiruvanandapuram Manuscripts Library and Mysore Oriental Research Library in 1950s.

He has to his credit the establishment of a printing press with Grantha and Devanagiri scripts and printed and published many books on Agamas. Presently, he is editing an almanac, ‘Thiru Koil Anushtana Vakya Panchangam’ for the past 15 years and running a publishing company, which comes out with books on temple rituals.
bosco.dominique@timesgroup.com

Rotary Poster Painting Competition 2009

new-pictureRotary on the Spot Poster Painting Competition 2009

26-jan-09-01-feb-0901

26-jan-09-01-feb-0921

26-jan-09-01-feb-067

26-jan-09-01-feb-07926-jan-09-01-feb-087 Rotary South-West had organised “On the Spot Poster & Painting Competition” for children of Age group 3 years to 17 years on Sunday,  the 01st Feb 09   at Civil Services Sports Ground Ashoka Hotel, Chankyapuri, New Delhi.

More than two thousand children participated in the painting Competition   accompanied by their parents and guardians.

It was a wonderful sight to see hundreds of children intent and concentrating on painting using pencils, crayons, and water colours.

The subjects for painting were

1. Pride of Delhi
Metro, Flyovers, Commonwealth Games, Tourism, Republic Day, Rotary Blood Bank.
2. Conservation of Resources
Water, Energy, Oil.
3. Social Crime
Crime against Women, Child abuse, Road Rage, Blue line menace, Corruption.
4. Social Responsibilities
Pollution, Blood Donation, AIDS, Civic Sense, Care for elderly, Hunger, Disaster Management, Health & Humanity, Master Plan 2021, Solid Waste Management, Traffic Sense, My Family, Mobile Mania, Women Safety.

Children painted beautiful posters in all age groups. The entries were evaluated by a panel of eminent judges. Smt Kiran Walia, Minister of Health & Family Welfare gave away the prizes to winners.8 prizes per age group were awarded.

All Children were given the participation certificate signed by Smt Kiran Walia & Rotarion executives. Lunch/Snack coupons were also given to each participant. There was also and exhibition on road signs and road sense by the Delhi Traffic Police.

To entertain children there was even a  magic show.

Credit for organisng the function goes to Rotary South West President Mr Manoj Bansal, Secretary V Narayanan, Mr Pankaj Agarwal, Mr Ranjan Chopra & many other Rotarians who actively participated in the program.

26-jan-09-01-feb-096

Children’s Program: 26 Jan 09

26-jan-09-036

26-jan-09-021

26-jan-09-030

26-jan-09-017

26 Jan 2009

Children took part in the function held in Sector A Pocket C at Vasant Kunj. The function was organised by the ARWA. Mr Yoganand Shastri, Speaker of Delhi Assembly was the chief guest. Local municipal councillar Mrs Yadav was also present.

Smt Chetan Basra was the MC.

Three itmes were presented by the children from Kishangarh and Meharauli.  Mr Prasad, Mrs Rajagopal and Mrs Chetan Basra had prepared the children.

26-jan-09-041

Rotary–Poster-Painting Competetion 2009

Rotary–poster-painting 2009

On the Spot Painting Competition

(Participation Free)

(Bring own colours  etc. , Stamped Drawing Sheets will be provided)

Sunday 01 Feb 2009

Civil services Sports Ground NO3

Opp Nehru Park

Near Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi

Age Groups 3 to 6

6+ to 9

9+ to 13

13+ to 17

Organised by

Rotary Club of Delhi South-West

email queries to

mk98@rediffmail.com,    nic.pankaj@gmail.com, lalitvohra@mail.com


People who make a difference in your life

Mr Watwani has sent the following.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just read straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?


The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. They are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2.. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are NOT the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care.

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today.
It’s already tomorrow in Australia .”
(Charles Schultz)

Brave Parents bring up a ‘Special Child’

new-picture-2.png

       

      Can’t converse but 14-year-old Benzi expresses herself through music

        A heart warming story brought to public knowledge by Medha Chaturvedi  TNN         

       

 New Delhi: She’s only 14. But Benzy — named after a rare flower in Brazil which blooms once in 20 years — has already won two national awards for her music skills and even made it to the Limca Book of World Records. This ‘‘special’’ girl cannot carry out a conversation with you due to a brain condition, but when it comes to music, she can promptly pick up words and tunes and play them on her synthesiser — with only one hand though, as her left side does not work in coordination with the right.
        According to Benzi’s mother, Kavita Kumar, ‘‘As a child, Benzy could not even move in her crib like other kids, let alone sit or stand. Doctors said that the right side of her brain was damaged, affecting fine motor movement on the left side of her body. We were told she can never be normal.’’
   Kavita, however, did not give up. ‘‘We noticed that Benzy did not react to anything that we brought for her, except musical toys. That’s when we realised that this part of of her brain was still functional. She loved watching music channels and could even memorise the songs.’’
       Her family tool Benzy to Spastic Society of Mumbai for a probable cure. ‘‘They could only give us a set of stimulation excercises for the nerves, which did nothing for her brain, but helped her tremendously in physical movement like turning on the bed,’’ said Kavita, a resident of East of Kailash.
       It was at the age of four that Kavita decided to get a music teacher, Muhammed Rafi, for Benzy. ‘‘He was an 80-year-old man, and after two-years, got very frustrated as she refused to listen to him. But after we explained how important the lessons were for her, he coached her for another four years. After that she sang Raag Yaman at a competition organised by Triveni Kala Mandir and won the first prize,’’ said Kavita.
       That was just the beginning. When Benzy turned nine, her parents got a cassette recorded by her, called Basic Raaga, which was on the nuances of classical music. ‘‘Benzy didn’t know what retakes were all about and sang all nine raagas for the cassette at one go,’’ said the proud mother.
       Kavita sent this cassette to several musicians across country, but only Shubha Mudgal responded, saying that the child had immense potential. ‘‘It was due to her encouragement and kind words that we decided to train Benzy for music. We owe her a lot and consider her a mentor of sorts to Benzy,’’ said Kavita. Her second album, Koshish, was released by her favourite hero Hrithik Roshan in 2004. ‘‘Benzy never allowed me and my husband to watch a single movie in peace, but she was all attention while watching ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’. She even memorised all the songs. She now prefers to be called Amisha at home,’’ said Kavita.
       Benzy won a national award for ‘Koshish’ and another for her next album, Shakti, which was an instrumental, in 2006. Her other awards included a president’s commendation card and Karamveer award by a social organisation. She made it to the Limca Book of World Records the same year as the first special child to have cut an album.
   But all this has not been easy. ‘‘My husband had to take a transfer to Delhi as it opened up more avenues for Benzy. All that seems worthwhile now since our child is happy,’’ said Kavita.
       The girl now studies in Lakshman Public School in standard 5 (special), which is equivalent to class II for other children, and is just a step away from being an MA in music.
   medha.chaturvedi@timesgroup.com
 

UK’s Eton gets first Hindu tutor

UK’s Eton gets first Hindu tutor      

          London: Symbolising the growing influence of Hindus in the UK, the Eton College appointed Jay Lakhani, head of the Hindu academy and education director for the Hindu council UK, to the post of parttime Hindu Tutor. 
  

         Lakhani’s role will be to provide pastoral support and religious teaching to Hindu boys at the school, and contribute to school inter-faith activities. As religion plays an important role at the Eton college, all the boys studying in the college are expected to take part in week-day chapel services.
      
  

       For many years, Jewish boys have been able to take instruction from a Jewish tutor during Sunday Chapel, for the last four years, the College has had a Muslim tutor to offer the same service to Muslim boys. 
  

       With the appointment of Jay Lakhani, even the Hindu boys will now be offered the same choice.
       On his appointment, Lakhani said: “I see this as an exciting opportunity to explore a broader vision of spirituality with the boys at Eton College, particularly how the Hindu idea of spiritual humanism manages to reconcile differences between religious and secular world-views.”
         “Religious pluralism offers the best prescription for making religions once again the cohesive force in our society. It is wonderful to see Eton college embracing these wider aspects of personal and spiritual development.” Lakhani said in a statement. PTI