While our timeline is bombarded with reports of theft, robbery and cheating, the good news often gets lost in this noise. The story of Ravi Chopra and his American origin wife Jo Mcgowan Chopra is both inspiring and needs to be told.
Living in Dehradun, the couple had two natural children of their own but Jo wanted to adopt a third child. They adopted a baby girl whom they named Moy Moy (meaning little sister in Cantonese). Moy Moy was the 13th child of a potato farmer in Uttarakhand. In fact, Moy Moy’s biological mother had decided to abort her but a doctor advised her against it and told her that a family is willing to adopt the child. Four years on, they found out that Moy Moy is suffering from cerebral palsy. They also realised that there were not enough good institutions for the mentally disabled in India and despaired of ever finding proper care for their little daughter. The family witnessed her gradual regression with total shock.
“It was like watching an elderly person with Alzheimer’s. She started to get seizures, forget things, she wasn’t getting her sentences right, she became ungainly, started to trip and fall”. Jo told Business Standard.
However, Moy Moy’ misfortune turned into a boon for thousands of mentally challenged kids. Jo conceived the idea of a school for kids needing special care-and thus she started Karuna Vihar—a school for the mentally handicapped- in 1995. The school teaches children from 7 to 14 years how to deal with their world independently. They Here they also learn to develop academic skills as per their levels and grow into happy and confident youngsters.
The school is associated with Latika Foundation which was set up by a retired Doon schoolmaster. The foundation, at present, works with 300 children with special needs on a daily basis. There are seven centers all over the city. There are waiting lists at every center.
Then, there’s a center at the Doon hospital that conducts diagnostics and assessments. With a staff of 115 (all salaried), the foundation do training, awareness, outreach and advocacy. In her bid for a greater cause, Jo’s own life has transformed completely. She travels across the country raising awareness and fund as well, gives TED talks while keeping home and hearth together. She writes proposals, meets corporates and speaks at any forum where she could be heard. A few years ago, ex-chairperson of Thermax ltd. saw Jo on TED talks which prompted her to visit Dehradun and to see the whole project and left Jo with a cheque of Rs 1 crore!