History

 

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Inspired by an established rehabilitation center in South India, and understanding the need for such a service in Varanasi, a small group of people came together in 1990 to realize their dream: to start an outreach service for children and youngsters with different abilities in Uttar Pradesh. The founder and current executive director, Sangeeta JK, was the spearhead of this group.

Nagwa

Sangeeta JK had spent almost 20 years in India at this point working with leprosy patients as a nurse by vocation. She and the other members of the group knew the necessity for a service to help those individuals who are under-served in the community especially children with different abilities. The group began contacting people in Varanasi as well as abroad, asking them if they were willing to collaborate in such a venture. Letters were sent and responses were patiently awaited. The group explained to anyone that would listen that the centre was open for children, especially of poor families, who suffered from the effects of poliomyelitis, of rickets, or of cerebral palsy, and many others.

KIRAN began its journey on 15th September, 1990 in an old ashram in Nagwa, Lanka at, what used to be, the outskirts of the city. Although Sangeeta JK had connections to many of the children with different abilities through her work as a nurse in the city, the group searched through the community to find even more children that could possibly be helped. The first class of students was no more than a handful with just as many staff. Soon neighborhood children and siblings of the students with different abilities also wanted to join and thus, quite naturally, inclusiveness became a pillar of the centre – children with an array of different abilities and limitations learning, playing, and working together.

The name of the centre was to be KIRAN, a Hindi word which translates to “ray of light”; a ray of hope, of life and joy. The working team would consist of Indian people who came from different walks of life, who practiced different religions, and spoke different languages, whom together had one common goal: to serve the well-being of the children with love and professional skill. Sangeeta JK accepted anyone who was willing to work for the betterment of the children and classes and therapies were conducted very informally in the beginning. Great emphasis was to be given to the involvement of the parents of these children in the rehabilitation and educational process, to prevent parents from simply “depositing” their children and bringing the message of inclusion outside of the centre and into the home.

In 1994, KIRAN Society was registered under the Societies Registration Act. As the small rooms of the ashram in Nagwa were becoming too cramped and insufficient, planning began for the KIRAN Village. In 1998, the KIRAN Village was born and established in the village of Madhopur, where KIRAN Society found its new home. Beginning with only a handful of children, KIRAN now provides rehabilitation and education for almost 450 children and youngsters with different abilities from all social backgrounds. The campus is full of life and maintained year round to provide services and support within the village walls and within the surrounding districts on a constant basis.

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Sangeeta JK is originally from Switzerland and has been living and working in India since 1972. With so much support coming from Europe and other countries outside of India the Indian KIRAN Friends Association (IKFA) was rolled out in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and till date it has grown to a large and beautiful network of care and friendships providing endless support for KIRAN Society in India.

Additionally, in order to assure the financial support for the future, the KIRAN Foundation, Switzerland was brought to life in the year 2003. Through the Foundation KIRAN has been able to find donors and supporters to provide many of the necessities to run the KIRAN Village and the KIRAN Society successfully in all of its endeavors.

Additionally, in order to assure the financial support for the future, the KIRAN-Foundation, Switzerland was brought to life in the year 2003.howwestarted_031_0000Philipp Hautle, founder and former president of KIRAN
Urban Zehnder
, president of KIRAN Friends Association
Urs Keller
, president of KIRAN Foundation

With so much support and encouragement KIRAN Society was recently able to celebrate its 25th anniversary. From 1990 to 2015 KIRAN has grown from a small seed into a large and fruitful tree.