Ajoy holds a degree in Fine Arts, Commercial Arts and Sculpture from Rabindra Bharati University. He also has a Diploma in Interior Designing. He teaches art to four of the girls.
Debashish is a registered tabla player under Calcultta Stage Performing Musicians Welfare Association, Kolkata. He has been teaching the older girls tabla since May 2013. He has taught at South Calcutta Ananda Niketan Home since 1996.
Anindita holds a B.A and M.A. in Philosophy from Calcutta University. She has been with Shishur Sevay since 2010. She works primarily with the children with disabilities and creatively comes up with new ways of making the class interesting to them and motivating them. She has become expert with Tobii.
Dibyangshu holds a Diploma in Visual Arts from the Indian Art College, Rabindra Bharati University. He works intensively with our girl who is a gifted artist. He is a well-recognized artist and exhibits widely. He founded his own art school, Aankiey in 1987, where two of our girls now attend.
Operations: The Truly Indispensable.
Bijay has been with Shishur Sevay from its beginning and has known Dr. Harrison since 2000. He has multiple roles: Operations, driver, fix-it man, and our strong man when that’s needed. He is ‘MAMA’ (uncle) to the girls at Shishur Sevay. He really is indispensable.
Teaching Assistant Rehabilitation
Kaberi joined in 2007. She assists in the rehabilitation of the children with disabilities. As mother to a young woman with cerebral palsy, she has extensive hands-on practical experience with disabilities and a strong commitment to their care and well-being.
Chaitali was the first teacher at Shishur Sevay in 2007. After receiving her M.Com, she began working in administration, primarily handling bookkeeping and accounting. She is trained in Tally and MS Office.
Dr. Purba Rudra
Rutgers University, PhD Geography; Jawaharlal Nehru University: MPhil, Geography. Dr. Rudra joined Shishur Sevay in November 2011. She oversees Ichche Dana Inclusive School and teaches the abled and those with disabilities. Dr. Rudra’s main focus is in empowering the girls, building academic skills and self-confidence. She is also managing the advanced assistive communication technology and teaching Tobii.
She also serves as the treasurer.
Rajasree joined in March 2018. She has a B.A. (Hons.) in Political Science and has close to ten years of experience in HR and administration.
Satyagopal Halder also maintains the garden, refusing to take money even for plants he brings. He says “This is my contribution to this home.” Ashok Sengupta says “I like working here. The way the children are taken care of here, other organizations should also do it that way.”
Rajat joined Shishur Sevay in July 2017. He comes twice weekly to do a music therapy session for the children with special needs. Apart from Shishur Sevay he conducts music therapy sessions in various other organizations for persons with Alzheimer’s, dementia, children with special needs, old age homes etc. He is also working on a project called ‘Harmony Station’ in various schools, where he would install instruments including unorthodox instruments made out of waste material, where children could explore different sounds and music through the instruments and have fun. He has also participated in various exhibitions and conducted workshops.
Srirupa holds a Diploma in Arts and Crafts from the Vocational Institute for Air Force Women’s Welfare Association, Bhatinda. She is experienced in teaching arts, as well as academic subjects. She has been with Shishur Sevay since 2010 and works with all level of student learning. When Ganga was in a non-inclusive school she went with her each day to teach her in the classroom. She also does Tobii with Ganga.
Ria joined Shishur Sevay in June 2018 as the Communications Officer and has been diligently documenting activities and posting them to our social media sites. She has been creating, managing and maintaining the media material. She has a training in Journalism and Audio Visual Communication and has worked in a media house and NGOs in the past.
Physiotherapist and Founding Member of the Board
Shanti Devi is one of our founding board members. Her priority is working with the children with disabilities. She has a special relationship and devotion to them. She comes at 6 am, six days a week to do exercise, massage, yoga and communicate with them. She is also an operation theatre supervisor at a nursing home. Much of the development of the children with disabilities is due to her consistent and committed care, and her love.
Providing a secure environment for the children is of utmost importance. We have 24X7 security guards posted at the gate. They keep track of not only the visitors and staff but also run the generator and make sure that the water tanks are full.
Dance and Movement Teacher
Satyen holds an M.A. in Dance from Rabindra Bharati University. He specialized in the Bharatnatyam and Kathak dance forms. Satyen teaches the Inclusive Dance and Movement Program, working with the abled and those with disabilities. He has toured Europe multiple times.
Tumpa joined in December 2013 and comes from Bagrahat. “I like working here and being with the kids. The children’s home filled a void in my life.”
Monika is with us since January 2014 and is from Sahapur. “I am very happy working here. The environment here is very good (I have seen other places). I want to keep on working here. I have got a lot of help from the aunties (teachers) here and mummy is a very good person. We wouldn’t have been here otherwise.”
We have an outstanding group of trained childcare workers who care for the children, as well as do the work of cleaning, laundry, bathing, feeding, and most important, holding a crying child. They ARE the environment of the children. We work hard to make their work conditions good, including meals and paid time off.
Alpana joined in June 2016 and has been very quick in picking up the work. She says “I like working here. If I did not like it I would not have stayed on.”
Purnima started in 2010. She is from Jagannathpur. Most days she stays at night, but the children usually sleep through the nights. “I really like working here. I have learned a lot from Mummy, especially about working with children with disabilities. I want to learn more!”
Uma has been known to Dr. Harrison since 1984 and was with us in the beginning and is back again with us. She says “I like it here. I like the children. I like everyone here.”
Chhaya joined in February 2013. She worked at a bulb factory before she joined Shishur Sevay. “Since the time I have joined I have really liked the place and all the people. I would like to work here till I die and want to keep learning more.”
Sandipan had visited Shishur Sevay on Mahalaya and done a musical jam session with the girls, which they all really enjoyed. He then decided to come on a regular basis and teach the girls guitar. He comes once a week.
Sangeeta has been volunteering at Shishur Sevay since February 2018 and has been teaching accountancy to one of the girls who is preparing for NIOS and English to another one. She feels “Shishur Sevay is the truest home as far as its name goes. Michelle is mummy for all the girls and they are her daughters. Such homes are a boon. Love, care and progress is what I see here. And I feel blessed to be a part of its growth. “
Is the Senior Engineer at DM Enterprises in Baltimore, Maryland. Earlier he was a lecturer and graduate co-ordinator in the Department of Civil Engineering at Morgan State University, Maryland, USA. He takes a group class of spoken English with the girls once a week, from Maryland, using an online video-conferencing program GoToMeeting.
Amitava, a local resident, volunteers once a week, co-teaching the basic computer literacy class.
Kalyani Das is the head teacher at Aswini Datta Memorial Girl’s High School in Kolkata. She volunteers at Shishur Sevay twice a week in the evening, teaching the girls Bengali. She adds “I have been associated with Shishur Sevay since April 2017. I am a school teacher. 15 girl children are being nurtured under the care of Dr. Michelle Harrison. Being a woman myself my only wish is to help establish these girls as accomplished women.”
Development Together, based out of Perth, Australia, arranges for volunteering and internship opportunities for people, matching their skills and abilities with the needs of their partners around the world. Our partnership began in 2017 and the first volunteer to come through them was Emily Goulet, who was an excellent match. This is what they had to say after her return “….From talking with Emily, we gathered that this experience was not only positive for the children and staff at Shishur Sevay, but that it has also changed her life in the process. We would like to express our extreme gratitude to all of you, but most especially the children at Shishur Sevay for allowing her to come into your home and your hearts.” Click here to see the certificate of appreciation from them.
Emily is a Speech Language pathologist from Calgary, Canada. She was the first volunteer to come through Development together. She spent a month at Shishur Sevay and was of immense help in upgrading and restructuring our tobii communicator software and also with invaluable inputs on assistive communication. Here is what she had to say “I wasn’t sure what to expect, coming from Canada to Calcutta. I didn’t know what the level of skills would be amongst the staffs and amongst the girls in using this kind of technology, what happened just blew my mind. It was amazing to work with the teachers and see how much knowledge they have in the technology. They know how to program pages on the vocabulary-set that the girls are using, they know how to add new buttons and they also just spent so much time practicing and working with the girls and really saw the value in using this technology as a way for the girls to communicate the message. I am learning so much from the staff here at Shishur Sevay about prioritizing technology like this as a way for the girls to communicate their messages.
Sreeya received her Ph.D in Political Science from Monad University – Gaziabad. She has been volunteering since 2010 and has guided the girls through many subjects and areas of interest, particularly Political Science, Human Rights and Women’s Rights.
Lena was an intern for two months starting end of June to end of August, 2015. She spent a lot of time with the children who have profound disabilities. She really connected with the children. She expressed interest in all aspects of their care and was very sensitive to their needs. She was back in Kolkata to pursue her Master’s degree and visited the children often during that time as well.
Shivangi was an intern for the month of July in 2015. She was able to adapt to whatever needs we had for her assistance, from helping a child with English to a children’s project of painting a mural. She was sensitive to the shyness of some of the girls, and was able to gain their trust so they really enjoyed their time with her.
Lindsay, pursuing her college degree in Environmental and Humanitarian Engineering, interned here for three weeks in June 2017, working with the children and assisting Dr. Harrison in her work as well. For her “Interning at Shishur Sevay was a life-changing opportunity. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived and I left with numerous new relationships and experiences that I will never forget. Dr. Harrison and the staff of Shishur Sevay are nothing but welcoming and caring and I look forward to the day I can return and see the girls again.”
Chandradeep is from our local community and from time to time gives valuable consultation on various aspects like human resource, safety, trips etc.
Kaynat interned at Shishur Sevay for about three weeks in September 2016. She spent a lot of quality time with the children and really bonded with them. The children often exchange emails with ‘Kaynat didi’.
Anjali Forber Pratt
As a volunteer at Shishur Sevay, in 2006 and 2009, she helped set our first computer and assistive communications program. Anjali is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. Among her many achievements in various fields is being a Paralympics medalist.
She came back in December 2015, to conduct research on inclusive education and living in Shishur Sevay and Ichche Dana Learning Center, the findings of which she presented at the Annual Meeting of American Psychological Association the following year.
Equal Health is an organization of health care professionals who volunteer their services in many countries around the world. Over the last few years different groups of volunteers, including Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech Pathologists, Special Educators and others led by Nicki Hurwitz and Kristy Tomlinson have visited Shishur Sevay and provided their valuable services and inputs.
Maggie was the communications coordinator and was instrumental in setting us up in the social media platforms in 2012. The girls formed a really deep bond with her. She is currently a Communications specialist at National Disability Institute in the Washington DC area and has in the past competed in track as a member of Team USA at the Beijing Paralympics, been an independent state delegate at Ms. Wheelchair USA an Interpretation Associate at the Liberty Science Center, among various other roles.
“The year I spent at Shishur was a year of exploration, growth, self-discovery, and self-redefining. An Indian adoptee, I wanted to learn about the country of my origin. I admit, I went to India a naive and lost in my mid-twenties life crisis. I came back with a new prospective on life, appreciation for things and opportunities I’ve had, and life direction.…Paralyzed from the waist down and requiring the use of a manual wheelchair, India posed quite a few challenges. Pile on top of that being a woman who didn’t speak the language and who grew up in the United States, and you can easily see how I was a fish out of water. However, I wouldn’t change the experience of my year at Shishur for anything. There is so much joy, love and appreciation for the little things in life at the home that it outweighs the struggles India presents. I think about my Shishur family daily and wonder how each of the girls, or my bons (little sisters) are doing. I believe and hope everyone at Shishur will be a part of my life for the rest of my life and visiting again is always at the back of my mind.”
Johannes (John) Berrens
John interned at Shishur Sevay for six months beginning September 2014. A student of theology in Germany, he is committed to improving and enriching life where he can. He has travelled and volunteered extensively in Africa. His previous visits to Kolkata inspired him to come back for a longer time and to be helpful in some way. He found Shishur Sevay through the Yellow Pages of the Internet. John produced the last annual report, having researched the questions of what would help us best, and then designed it and wrote initial versions of all the content. He helped us create the new website and maintained it as well as all our social media. When we needed a dead tree cut down, he did that too. Since then he has come back twice and helped in designing and laying out the Annual Report each time. After his first visit this is what he had to say “…..My working at Shishur Sevay was definitely learning by doing. At no point during my time with you I had the feeling of being left alone with a truckload of work, but I was busy enough to be able to learn and experience a lot in only six months of time. …. From day one I was part of the family and was welcomed warmly. When I came I thought that there is a difference between family and “professional work”, but I have learned that there is hardly anything more professional than a loving and caring family. I loved having been given the responsibility for social media and the Annual Report. That showed the amount of trust I have been given, and that felt good. Still I had the feeling that I was allowed to make mistakes and have them corrected in a great and educational discussion…..
Suravi found Shishur Sevay through Asha for Education. With her Bengali roots and language and her training in Psychology she was helpful in so many ways, personally with the children, and administratively for the organization. Ask her to do something and complicated as it might be, she got it done on her own. She organized the evaluations and implementation of Speech therapy for those girls who needed it.
“Before coming to Shishur Sevay, I had a budding interest in social justice work, but the internship solidified my decision to make it my career. I was deeply inspired by the relentless work that Michelle and her staff put into ensuring a brighter future for the girls and setting a precedent for how India ought to care for children like them…… Michelle Harrison and her staff truly care about making the experience educational and worthwhile for interns. Michelle takes the time to find out what personal and/or professional interests bring you to Shishur Sevay, and the internship is tailored accordingly. She herself has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, but she will also connect you with people in your field of interest.… I will always treasure the time spent in the sunny, yellow house with the loving Shishur Sevay family. In my own small way, I hope to contribute to their noble endeavour”
Emily came in 2013, for a couple of months, with the goal of one day opening her own home for disabled girls in India. Together with Dr. Harrison she initiated a therapeutic horseback riding program for the girls. “The girls here have been, and will continue to be, such an inspiration to me. These strong individuals have such a bright future with thanks to Shishur Sevay. I can’t wait to see what amazing women they become.”
Indu is a Kolkata native, student of Liberal Arts at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, USA. She interned at Shishur Sevay for a month from May-June 2014. She worked with some of the girls on their spoken English and assisted the English teacher in her class. She also accompanied the girls to a painting exhibition, at Jadavpur University, Memories of Dark Days.
Tasmiah (Tas) Masih, Arabella Shephard, Isabella Shephard, Rianna Masih and Zahra Masih:
A group from Australia and USA, led by Tas spent ten days at Shishur Sevay from 6th July to 16th July, 2015. They undertook several projects; painting a mural on the wall, baking, yoga with story-telling sessions and making craft items. The girls really bonded with them and have since kept in touch with them by email.
Goutami was one of our first interns. She worked on the first version of our website. She also worked with the children. She is currently a resident in family medicine. Over the years she has visited Shishur Sevay multiple times and is now also a part of Friends of Shishur Sevay.
Rosalind, a special educator, volunteered for a few days at Shishur Sevay and introduced us to many assistive communication apps on the iPad like Proloquo2Go and others and also to teaching methods that could be very useful for children with learning difficulties and intellectual impairments.
Nicha helped with various things. She designed and made labels and other Shishur Sevay stationery. She also did glass painting and decorating with the children along with other creative arts.
Leela is an adoptee who came to Kolkata to do something for the children in the city of her birth. She has a Masters in rehabilitation of people with hearing impairment. While at Shishur Sevay she worked with the children with disabilities.