Testimonials & Inspiring Stories

Chitra Rajgopal

Bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, Chitra has a delightful personality. She is a wonderful addition to our volunteers.

The day I came to know about Muskaan

It was the year 2005. I was a part of a three day Art of Living workshop, that was held at Muskaan to help trainees. During that time I loved the atmosphere in Muskaan. And wanted to help them. Since I live nearby it was an easy decision to make. Now I help Muskaan in whatever way I can. I come three days a week. I use my training in classical music, to help the students with music. I also help them with their hobby classes. Besides that, I help in packaging the products, Diwali sale etc.


My words about Muskaan :

I enjoy the cheerful, joyous and vibrant atmosphere of Muskaan. The whole ambience here is open, fresh and beautiful. Also, people are just wonderful. The work associates are very enthusiastic and eager to learn. We have to teach them the way they want to learn. Muskaan is very sensitive to these youngsters. They do not label them. They treat them with respect and encourage them and allow them to grow. Muskaan lives up to its name. Muskaan is like a family. I look up to it as a very successful model. It is a role model for any adult training programme. I love being here. I love interacting with students, and teaching them. I see them as individuals who need love and care. I try to build good rapport with them. I would say I take back more than I give them. I try to spread awareness about Muskaan, its activities, and also about their products.


My anecdote:

I have a student Punchika. One day I asked her to sing the song which we had learnt in the class. She started singing, repeating every line. I said “Punchika, you have to sing each line just once”. She said with confidence, “no mam, this is the correct way”. I was really impressed with her confidence.

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Ira Mathur

Ira is a 40 year old woman. She has a high support need. Capacity development programme for high support need persons helped her a lot in settling down and realisign her full potential.

The day I came to know about Muskaan :

Recently she has been placed in flower unit of Muskaan. After 10-15 days of placement, one day she refused to go in her individual corner for work. We were surprised. We waited and observed her. After some time, she went to the work table where other students were working. She took a chair and sat with them. To our surprise, she quietly took a tray of flowers and started plucking the petals. We understood what she wanted. She wanted to be part of the group and work.


My role with Muskaan :

Now she has started taking initiative in getting her work for the day. When flowers are delivered to her unit in the morning, she gets up and sits near the pile of the flowers, takes flower in her tray and starts working. One day she came in the office to show her work, though she is extremely apprehensive in entering any new place other than her own unit. She enjoys her work in flower unit as the work gives her a sense of achievement along with fulfiling her sensory needs through touching and plucking flowers.


Best thing about Muskaan:

Flower unit of Muskaan collects used flowers from temples. Students of this unit pluck the petals, dry them in solar dryer and send to another NGO (Society for Child Development, Delhi) which has a system of using dried flowers to make organic Holi colours.

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Manolina Borkar


Muskaan..so true to its name…makes me smile every-time i think about my experiences with the organisation. It was in 1995, fresh out of school that I got associated with Muskaan. Even though it was a short stint, I was always in awe of the energy they emanated. And now again, after all these years, I have got to know how the organisation has grown manifold and going strong. I am still in awe of the energy and happiness of adults with intellectual disability in Muskaan . My best wishes for a better, bigger and brighter future. May you guys keep prospering and stay blessed. Been fortunate enough to wear this wonderful t-shirt imprinted with a ‘Muskaan Special’ painting. I wear it with pride….always!!! 🙂

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Puloma Shah


It has been more than 20 years since I have been associated with Muskaan and it has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Started as a vocational training centre by a small group of parents in a garage, facing many obstacles and challenges, today it is one of the most sought after institutions for the mentally challenged. It is their indomitable spirit which needs to be saluted. Muskaan has an amazing staff, which works with a missionary zeal.The sincerity, compassion, patience and dedication runs deep in each and every member of their staff. Their nurturing and inspiring role leaves deep impact on the students which make them confident and empowered. Today Muskaan is not only a vocational training centre but it is a movement for social justice, equality, empowerment and dignity. It is one of the finest examples of how people with dedication, faith and sincerity fighting for a cause can create a miracle, if Tagore’s Shantiniketan is the abode of innovative learning, Muskaan is the abode of enabling and empowering environment for the mentally challenged.

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VANDANA KUMAR

Punchika's Mother

When I first met Vandana, I was struck by her simplicity, her clarity of thoughts and her commitment to Muskaan. She loves coming to Muskaan and helping the youngsters. She has total faith in Muskaan’s philosophy of dignity and empowerment. Vandana has an M.A. in Hindi, which she uses in good measure while teaching her students.

The day I came to know about Muskaan :

Our daughter Punchika used to go to Navjyoti where I also worked as a volunteer. Punchika spent 18 years there, but then they stopped their vocational unit. So I decided to bring her here. Also there were two other reasons. Muskaan is near our house and I had heard nice things about it.


My role with Muskaan :

I help with the Life Skills Programme (LSP). It is an awareness programme where students learn about themselves, others around them and the surrounding environment. It facilitates enrichment of their cognitive faculties and personality development.


Best thing about Muskaan:

Muskaan is totally committed to these adults. There is absolutely no compromise on this aspect. What strikes you most is the complete accessibility to teachers and the principal. There is no boundary between work associates and teachers. The rapport between them is amazing. They need wings to soar high and Muskaan helps them in every possible way. It makes them fearless and confident. I can say that I have seen tremendous change in my own daughter.


My anecdote:

Punchika knows Hindi typing and loves it. Once she was doing a puzzle on the computer which she was not able to solve. But she didn’t give up. She worked on it the whole day. In the evening when she solved it she screamed with joy, “I did it!” and came running to me. I hugged her and kissed her on the forehead”.

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Puneet


Puneet is an example of what can happen to a person with intellectual disability if the person is respected for whatever one is and given all the opportunity for human potential to flourish and express. Puneet is a responsible worker in stationary unit of Muskaan Work Centre. Since childhood he has been a very vivacious person exploring his environment in his own ways that every child does. As he grew, he became more and more confident. He was supported in acquiring variety of skills including personal care, cognitive and social skills. Even a small achievement, seemingly insignificant to others was fully recognised and appreciated. The behaviours that were found to be unhelpful for his functioning were gently but firmly discouraged as we do for any child. Care was taken to give him full respect and care in all public spaces whether it was family visits, celebrations or any other social gatherings. Never ever we discussed our difficulties or challenges within family or outside in having a child whose intellectual functions were not as developed as other children. We knew that the world would respect him only if we did so. Today, we find that Puneet is a darling of the family, relatives, friends and teachers.

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ANITA ROY

Antara's Mother

Anita is a sincere and dedicated mother, who has helped Muskaan at every stage. With her gentle and pleasant manners she has endeared herself to everyone at Muskaan.

The day I came to know about Muskaan :

Antara used to go to Anchal school, where I met Shantiji (Shanti Auluck), mother of another student, Puneet. She told me about her effort to start Muskaan and I decided to send Antara there.


My role with Muskaan :

I saw the work happening at Muskaan and felt like helping. I used to help in whatever way I could. It has been 15 years now. Presently I am with the Life Skills Programme (LSP). It a great programme. Students talk of their inner conflicts. They feel completely at ease in talking about themselves because they consider their teachers their friends. While talking about their inner feelings they pour their heart out.


My words about Muskaan:

Muskaan is like a family. If I have any problem or anything which bothers me I can discuss with Shantiji. Neeraji and all staff members are so nice. When I lived in Calcutta, I had no moral support. Here at Muskaan I feel I have a family which is ready to help. I do not feel lonely anymore. My daughter loves coming to Muskaan because it provides such wonderful atmosphere. They feel secure and wanted.
Muskaan has excellent work culture. It instills team work and tremendous confidence in each and every individual. I have seen the change in my own daughter which is absolutely remarkable. My anecdote: Antara gets stipend every month for her work and that has made her very confident. She often tells us, “I am earning now and I should contribute for monthly expenses like everyone else. Since my younger sister is not yet ready it becomes my duty to help Dad.”

One day, my husband and I were talking about loan installments of our flat. She was also sitting there and listening to it. “How much is the installment?” she asked. We said, “Two lakhs”. “You need not worry. I will help you. I will pay for the installment with my money,” prompt came her reply. We were surprised and also touched by her gesture. We always knew how much Antara loved us and cared for us. But that day, we realised Antara is now a mature and responsible young lady.

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