For every act of hate there are a million others which inspire love and empathy. A few weeks ago the Facebook page of The Logical Indian posted a picture of Khadija, a girl without a face. There were a lot of comments on that post. Some showing empathy, some others trying to lend a helping hand. Naseeb Ahluwalia, a resident of Syndey who is currently in India came across the post. Like many others she saw the post and went ahead with her day as usual. However, she could not remove the image from her mind and came back in the evening to check the post anew. She saw the comments but was extremely disappointed by the fact that most people were just suggesting things but nobody was taking any action. She set up a facebook page and connected with Jay Varma, a businessman from Kolkata, who located the family and got in touch with them.
Khadija is a 21 yr old woman who was born without a face and eyes. She is suspected to be suffering from Neurofibromatosis- a condition that makes people prone to tumours. When Khadija was born she was unable to open her eyes. When her parents took her to the hospital she was admitted for six months. She went through a lot of tests and the doctors came to the conclusion that there was nothing they could do to improve her condition. Her condition worsened progressively and as the years passed her excess skin kept growing.
At present Khadija is the main bread winner for her family. She goes begging with her father and brings home her meagre earnings. After facing years of neglect and hopelessness her father now does not let her talk to people and is reluctant to discuss her medical condition with anyone. Khadija’s father works part time as a fruit vendor and the family earns about 7,000/month which is barely enough to make ends meet.
After reading Naseeb’s comment on the post, Jay got in touch with her. Jay says, “I have seen this girl many times begging in Kolkata, Naseeb had written a very emotional comment after reading which we got in touch. Trying to find her was the most herculean task. It took us 7-8 days to locate her house. I got 10-15 people of my staff looking for her. It is a herculean task trying to find a beggar in a city of 15 million people. We even wrote to the commissioner of police for the same.”
Jay went to their house and saw that they were living in a very shabby hut. The economic condition of the family was abysmal. Jay offered to help them get Khadija treated for her condition. He also told them that he would take care of their expenses for a whole year.
Jay and Naseeb started up Soul Angels to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the family. They got in touch with Dr. Mustafa Khadir from Mangalore who agreed to treat the girl for free. However, there are pre and post surgery expenses and they also have to make sure that the family does not return to begging after the surgery. The Soul Angels group has started a fundraise on Ketto for Khadija and have raised around INR 400,000 so far. You can contribute to their cause here. Dr Mustafa and Naseeb are meeting Khadija and her family next week and taking it forward. The surgery is likely to be done in three phases over the next six months in Mangalore.
Like the group they started, Jay And Naseeb, have indeed come to Khadija’s life as angels. But Jay prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. “We are just two people who were browsing the internet and happened to be on facebook at the same time.”