Different Dialogues : Dr. Saroj Thapa

In conversation with Dr. Saroj Thapa.
Presently, Founding Patron and 1st President of SAATHI – a non-profit Dubai-based registered organisation.
Educational background: M.A & M.Phil in History. Ph.D in Special Education (Education for Children with Special Needs)

In a cafe of Dubai Mall, a meeting with Saroj Thapa expands from her own education and career to how SAATHI has been formed in Dubai. At times, I seemed keenly caught with her role as a mother and wife – wife of our outgoing Consul-General in Dubai, Mr. Venu Rajamony. On the tangible levels, SAATHI progressed because of Saroj’s well-suited role as the spouse of a senior diplomat. Turns out, Saroj comes from a lineage of teachers; and in the spirit with which she was raised, she was determined to follow the same tracks. In 1990, a teaching assignment in China was to take her to another mode, to another zone of education. Education for Children with Special Needs. To say in a simple manner: a-real-life-event concerning the complexity of a kid in the primary school was to shape the beginnings of what Saroj is pursuing today. When I nudged her with the thoughts that she will soon be joining her family outside Dubai, Saroj replied, ‘Saathi is my baby and I will want to return to Dubai to rediscover Saathi from time-to-time’.

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. I decided to learn about special education after 8 years of teaching experience and that was indeed a turning point in my life. It gave a whole new meaning and direction to my work.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. I would try to help all my students in my initial phase of teaching career, who, on hind sight, obviously had learning difficulties, but I did not know how to teach them. I got impatient with them, sometimes lost my temper, and was very frustrated. But if I had a second chance with them, I would be a much more understanding and effective teacher.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. My dream is to create and run a teachers’ training institute with a lab school, where every teacher is sensitized to the needs of students with special needs, where every educational theory taught is applied in practice, every student enrolled believes and accepts a person with special needs as an integral part of his/her life and society. My dream is that idea of inclusion will percolate down to all segments of the society and no person with special needs will ever feel neglected or left out of the fold.

About SAATHI: In Dubai, SAATHI is a one year old non-profit organization, having celebrated its 1st anniversary on 19th June 2010. SAATHI specializes in putting its efforts to address the specific issues of children with special needs. With a view of a just and equitable world, SAATHI strives to reach those corners where through participation at different levels, the parents and the children of special needs can benefit.

For further information, check website: www.saathidubai.org

Geeta Chhabra

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