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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 🙂

  • 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

IIT-Delhi Collaborates With Indiana University To Help Visually Impaired

The new approach can be used for exploring semantic communication, developing fun tactile game, educational pedagogy, retention and memory

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the collaboration is taking place to develop the tactile graphics. Wikimedia Commons
  • IIT-Delhi and indiana University collaborates to help the visually impaired
  • The collaboration has taken place for the developement of tactile graphics
  • India has largest number of visually impaired people in the world

A three-year collaborative research by IIT-Delhi and Indiana University in the US has led the team to new technologies and cognitive strategies that could improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired (BVI).

The collaboration has resulted in research for the development of a novel new design approach to tactile graphics.

IIT Delhi and Indiana university collaborate to help visually impaired. Pixabay
IIT Delhi and Indiana university collaborate to help visually impaired. Pixabay

“Tactile graphics” — sometimes called as raised line drawings — are two-dimensional images composed of linear and textured design elements raised very slightly above a flat surrounding surface.

“It’s not that what we are doing is attempted for the first time in the world, there are people who have formed similar solutions in the US, Europe, Britain, Japan etc. But the key challenge was to make it cost-efficient for developing countries like India,” M. Balakrishnan, Professor at IIT Delhi, told reporters.

“Tactile diagrams have been here for a long time. While the US-based tactile diagrams cost more than $2 per page, we have produced it for 25 cents and we hope to go further down to 5-7 cents over a period of time,” he added.

According to World Health Organisation estimates, there are 38 million visually impaired people of which 90 per cent of them live in the developing world.

As per 2011 census, India has more than five million visually impaired people – largest for any country.

Out of all the visually impaired people in the world, 90% are in sync with the technicalities of the world. Pixabay
Out of all the visually impaired people in the world, 90% are in sync with the technicalities of the world. Pixabay

Books for visually impaired people are normally completely in Braille text with no accompanying graphical images.

Introduction of low-cost Tactile Graphics will create a noticeable improvement in the quality of education of visually impaired people.

Tactile Graphics generally use a design strategy that distills pictures of objects or scenes into simple contour line drawings.

Also Read: Visually Challenged, yet a Printing Expert: Meet Kalim Iftikar Shaikh of Mumbai

It then translates these into raised lines that blind and visually impaired students trace with their fingers, much as they read Braille.

The new approach can be used for exploring semantic communication, developing fun tactile game, educational pedagogy, retention and memory. IANS