The fulfilment of a dream is beautiful and more so when you’ve strived hard and steered your way through the odds, one at a time, to achieve what you dreamed of. Bringing immense pride to Kalorex Group-run and Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff founded Visamo Kids Foundation (VKF), Neelam Sharma, a 2005-batch student of VKF, successfully completed her BDS to become a dentist this year, having passed out from the Government Dental College, (GDCH) Jamnagar.
L to R: Ms. Sudeshna Bhojia, Project Supervisor, VKF, Dr. Neelam Sharma and Ms. Ami Shah, Administrator, VKF
Neelam, whose father is a fruit vendor and mother, a homemaker, grew up in an urban slum of Surat, where her parents and three siblings – both migrants from Uttar Pradesh lived. A non-government organisation (NGO), Navsarjan, helped her appear for the VKF admission test in Surat, when she was six.
“I always aspired to pursue medical education and become a doctor. But I never thought this dream would ever be a reality. Having completed my Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course, there is no limit to my happiness,” said Neelam, who completed her class X from Anand Niketan, Satellite school in Ahmedabad with 88% marks in the year 2014-15 and later went on to pursue higher secondary education at St. Kabir School – Naranpura Campus.
“When I cleared my class XII and later opted for medical entrance examination, I was left out by one mark for the cut-off for MBBS course. I was heartbroken but decided to opt for Dentistry course. I am indeed delighted to have completed the course and now, it is a long road ahead as I would like to serve my community and the people at large. Poor oral health is a grave concern among people who hail from underprivileged backgrounds, with sheer lack of means, resources and awareness and I would like to do something for my people going forward,” said Neelam.
Neelam’s schooling was completely supported by Kalorex Group-run VKF with finances and resources. Child sponsor, Bina Ramani sponsored her stay at VKF till class X. A local coaching institute waived off 50% of the pre-medical coaching fees. Select Visamo Task Group members along with NRUPS Visamo Plus funded the remaining pre-medical coaching fees.
Fuelling her aspiration to become a doctor, VKF also facilitated collaborations with other donors to support her higher education. Her initial fee payment was done by Nayana Shah, trustee, VKF and director – Manthan Centre for Counselling.
Neelam has an elder sister who completed studying B.Com and B.Ed in Surat itself and two young brothers who are still in school.
“Our family faced several hardships financially but despite limited means, my mother ensured all her kids received education. My brothers are pursuing their higher secondary education in commerce and me and my sister have already chosen the career we aspired for,” said Neelam.
“At the age of six I did not know what VKF was and why I was sent there. Today, I define VKF as a ‘Life Transforming Foundation’ and consider myself lucky because if I have achieved so many milestones in my career, and fulfilled my medical education dream. Thanks to VKF, which made all the efforts to provide me with the best of education and shelter and also has a key role to play in my overall development,” the BDS graduate said.
Besides education, VKF also focuses on overall development of children. Neelam was very active in sports when in school and could pursue it alongside her studies.
“When she lived at the hostel, she came across as an extremely short-tempered girl. But with counselling from- a counsellor at VKF and guidance from Manthan, Centre for Counselling, she not just learnt to keep her cool but also remain focussed on her studies. At Visamo, Neelam is a role model for the younger girls and boys and acted as a pillar of support to anyone requiring counselling support. We are proud to have her at Visamo. She spent twelve years in this institution and bringing her up has given us a basket full of experiences of parenting an ambitious teen,” said Ms. Ami Shah, Administrator, VKF.
“Today, seeing her as a young, skilled, confident doctor is a moment of pride for VKF as it reaffirms the commitment and vision of Kalorex Group of shaping glocal learners and making education reach to each child, each individual,” said Ms. Sudeshna Bhojia, Project Supervisor.