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Meet Saif Ahmad Khan: ‘Save the Quest’ NGO Founder makes Education more flexible for Specially-Abled and Unprivileged Children in India

The story is about Save the Quest, an NGO that works for the upliftment and sustainability of the specially abled

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-by Chetna Karnani

The modern metropolitan Indian is a frequent visitor to restaurants and multiplexes. But how many of us have given a thought to it whether such places are friendly to specially-abled people? 

In an exclusive interview with Reporter Chetna Karnani of NewsGram Team, Saif Ahmad Khan, founder of ‘Save the Quest’ NGO, discusses his ideas and shares his thoughts on how Education can change the fate of the specially-abled and unprivileged children  in India.

It was not long ago when ‘Save the Quest‘, an independent NGO in New Delhi came into being in order to make this world a better place for the specially abled. Established by Saif Ahmad Khan during his graduation days, ‘Save the Quest’ works towards the quality education and upliftment of specially-abled and underprivileged children in Delhi and Bihar. A success story like none other, Save the Quest shatters the preconceived notions of the society that NGOs these days are mere glamorous means to acquire financial gains in the name of social work.

Save the Quest at a feast with orphan children during Ramadan
Save the Quest at a feast with orphan children during Ramadan. Image source: Save the Quest

Before its inception in 2013, Saif has worked with various NGOs like ‘Save the Children’ and has also carried out social work since his childhood. “The only driving force for me to start this organisation was to turn my passion into profession. When Swine Flu was a serious problem in India, I used to make posters and stick them around the school to raise awareness among students and make them conscious about this issue. This is how it all began.

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Everyone comes across children begging at street lights but anyone hardly pays any heed to their condition. It is usually not out of choice that these children take up begging instead of spending their childhood amidst books and carefree play. Saif, back in his hometown Patna, once approached these children and began his pursuit to impart them quality education. “Bringing children to a school is not a problem. The real challenge is to sustain their interest.

As a result, I started with showing them cartoon films and giving away sweets at the end of the class. And slowly I shifted to educational videos so that they got basic knowledge like alphabets while enjoying these videos”, says Khan, whose aim was to bring schools to children who could not go to a school.

Meals during studies
Meals during studies. Image source: Save the Quest

Beginning with only six children at first, this mobile school now reaches remote rural parts of Bihar where there are either no schools or where female literacy is almost zero.

Most underprivileged children have mid-day meals as the only motivation to go to schools, and this directly hampers the quality of education. Students who wish to study sincerely are not provided with adequate facilities to study, or are simply victims of poverty and submit to their condition. Therefore, in an attempt to change the face of the Indian education system, Saif’s team initially builds strong relationships with these children so that learning also contributes to their growth and helps them groom.

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Apart from that, the NGO is also associated with a Delhi based orphanage (name withheld) that requires the sponsorship for these children’s education. There are challenges like fundraising and seeking guardianship that every NGO faces.

One of the awareness campaigns carried out by the NGO
“I PLEDGE”, one of the awareness campaigns carried out by the NGO. Image source: Save the Quest

“Problems began with the mere thought of starting an NGO. My family and friends were earlier hesitant to support since the students’ stationery and other expenses were met from my savings. Today we need sponsors for around 500 children, and if each person contributes a small amount of 400 per month, their overall development expenses can be met,” said Saif.

The children are also introduced with sports, and are also taught chess. For his personal contribution towards eradicating disability as an outlawed issue which only attracts sympathy but no substantial help, Saif has sponsored the development of a girl child who is on wheelchair. A very active 8 year old child, says Khan, who is now determined to prepare her for Paralympics to be held in 2026 and is currently trying to find a coach for her.

Saif has also published a book within a team of 12 students named ‘Opportunities and Barriers for Students with Disabilities’ under the research of University of Delhi.

Besides children, the NGO also runs employability training for the blind and differently abled, for they believe that the most important means to their stability is their financial independence. Ishant Rajput, 24, is associated with the NGO since its beginning and was trained regarding basic computer qualifications. Ishant is now a successful graduate and is preparing for competitive exams.

'The Band'
‘The Band’. Image source: Save the Quest

“It is students like Ishant who make me realise that the words disability and difficulty are not related at all. Disability is just a social contruct and it is our duty to create a barrier-free existence for these children”, claims the founder chairperson of Save the Quest.

"A walk for the Visually Impaired" held in University of Delhi
“A Walk for the Visually Impaired” held in University of Delhi. Image source: Save the Quest

Save the Quest has helped more than five thousand visually impaired children in the past three years and has organised sensitisation and fund raising campaigns.

For any information on volunteering or to donate, you may contact Saif through:
Phone: 08585907442
E-mail: saif.stq@gmail.com
Website: www.savethequest.org

Chetna is a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It is really fascinating how young people like Saif are working towards a better nation. Helping the physically abled children is a great effort. Keep up the good work!

    • Saif Ahmad Khan

      Thank you

  • Saif Ahmad Khan

    Thank you newsgram for covering my story.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    When the education system is increasingly becoming commercialized, people like Saif are also there who are striving hard to provide education to underprivileged children. You are doing a wonderful job Saif.

    • Saif Ahmad Khan

      Thank You 🙂

SHARE
  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It is really fascinating how young people like Saif are working towards a better nation. Helping the physically abled children is a great effort. Keep up the good work!

    • Saif Ahmad Khan

      Thank you

  • Saif Ahmad Khan

    Thank you newsgram for covering my story.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    When the education system is increasingly becoming commercialized, people like Saif are also there who are striving hard to provide education to underprivileged children. You are doing a wonderful job Saif.

    • Saif Ahmad Khan

      Thank You 🙂

Next Story

“Everyone is Desperate For Some Magical Thing,” Paralyzing Illness in Kids On High Rise

The CDC is pledging a greater focus, too. Parents have accused the agency of doing little more than counting cases and have complained that when they tried to contact CDC, they encountered only automated phone trees and form responses.

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Braden Scott gives a thumbs up as he pauses while practicing on the piano in Tomball, Texas, March 29, 2019. Braden was diagnosed with the syndrome called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, in 2016 and was paralyzed almost completely. VOA

One morning last fall, 4-year-old Joey Wilcox woke up with the left side of his face drooping.

It was the first sign of an unfolding nightmare.

Three days later, Joey was in a hospital intensive care unit, unable to move his arms or legs or sit up. Spinal taps and other tests failed to find a cause. Doctors worried he was about to lose the ability to breathe.

“It’s devastating,” said his father, Jeremy Wilcox, of Herndon, Virginia. “Your healthy child can catch a cold — and then become paralyzed.”

Joey, who survived but still suffers some of the effects, was one of 228 confirmed victims in the U.S. last year of acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, a rare, mysterious and sometimes deadly paralyzing illness that seems to ebb and flow on an every-other-year cycle and is beginning to alarm public health officials because it is striking more and more children.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it may bear similarities to polio, which smoldered among humans for centuries before it exploded into fearsome epidemics in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Fauci, who published a report about the disease Tuesday in the journal mBio, said it is unlikely AFM will become as bad as polio, which struck tens of thousands of U.S. children annually before a vaccine became available in the 1950s.

Rachel Scott, right, helps suction the mouth of her son, Braden, in Tomball, Texas, March 29, 2019.
Rachel Scott, right, helps suction the mouth of her son, Braden, in Tomball, Texas, March 29, 2019. VOA

But he warned: “Don’t assume that it’s going to stay at a couple of hundred cases every other year.”

While other countries have reported cases, including Canada, France, Britain and Norway, the size and pattern of the U.S. outbreaks have been more pronounced. More than 550 Americans have been struck this decade. The oldest was 32. More than 90% were children, most around 4, 5 or 6 years old.

Most had a cold-like illness and fever, seemed to get over it, then descended into paralysis. In some cases, it started in small ways — for example, a thumb that suddenly wouldn’t move. Some went on to lose the ability to eat or draw breath.

Many families say their children have regained at least some movement in affected limbs, but stories of complete recovery are unusual. Health officials cannot say how many recovered completely, partly or not at all, or how many have died, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says deaths are rare.

Scientists suspect the illness is being caused chiefly by a certain virus that was identified more than 55 years ago and may have mutated to become more dangerous. But they have yet to prove that.

Treatments, physical therapy

And while doctors have deployed a number of treatments singly or in combination — steroids, antiviral medications, antibiotics, a blood-cleansing process — the CDC says there is no clear evidence they work.

Many parents say that when they first brought their child to the emergency room, they quickly realized to their horror that the doctors were at sea, too.

“Everyone is desperate for some magical thing,” said Rachel Scott, a Tomball, Texas, woman whose son Braden developed AFM in 2016 and has recovered somewhat after intensive physical therapy but still cannot move his right arm and has trouble swallowing and moving his neck.

A growing number of experts agree that physical therapy makes a difference.

“These kids can continue to recover very slowly, year over year. … It’s driven by how much therapy they do,” said Dr. Benjamin Greenberg of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the condition.

Wilcox, Joey’s father, said his son made huge improvements that way. Joey can run and use his arms. Still, muscle tone is weak in his right leg and shoulder, and he still has left-side facial paralysis. “He can’t completely smile,” his dad said.

Other stories are more tragic.

Katie Bustamante’s son Alex developed AFM in 2016. The suburban Sacr