surprise treat: Attorney and head of the newly minted Footprints Foundation, Veera Bhajan, centre, shares a moment with 11-year-old Thomas Seepersad, left, after he was given a surprise birthday party and gifted with a laptop by the foundation. Looking on is Seepersad’s mother, Omatie Seepersad, during the event at Bhajan’s Chaguanas home. —Photo courtesy Footprints Foundation

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Veera makes big step to help disabled kids

Lawyer born without arms creates non-profit Footprints Foundation

By Kim Boodram

THOUGH the triumph of her life alone is of itself a gift to the nation, Veera Bhajan is now taking it a step further with the creation of her own foundation to support children who, like her, face physical and other challenges.

Bhajan has been famous since her birth when she entered the world challenged by the fact that she had been born without arms. Now 24 and an attorney-at-law, she works at the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and is recognised as an inspirational speaker.

Having fascinated an entire country with her fortitude and love for life, Bhajan has now started Footprints Foundation, a non-profit outfit she intends to use to bring to others the same hope and support system she credits for her own success.

Registered in May, the foundation has so far focused most of its work on the Couva Children’s Home and Crisis Nursery.

“We are new and working with the resources we have, with most of it being funded by ourselves and volunteers,” Bhajan said yesterday, adding that both the differently abled and underprivileged children of the nation will be targeted by the foundation. 

“Much of our work will be at that home for now until the foundation grows. I’d like to reach out to children facing similar challenges and assist them in any way I can. These children all have special gifts, however, they may not have the opportunities that I did. With the support of the foundation, I wish to use my blessings to create positive change in their lives by helping them realise their full potential. 

“I believe that des­pite the challen­ges we face in life, we all have the blessed ability to make our mark and leave footprints in this world. Our motto is ‘Inspiring hope for tomorrow...one step at a time’.”

Bhajan, who is now seeking corporate sponsorship so the foundation can advance as quickly as possible, also has a special place in her heart for a particular young man—11-year-old Thomas Seepersad, who like her, was born without arms.

Thomas, of Debe, is unable to walk, even at his age, and sports the frame of a toddler.

He has learned to use his left foot to perform some daily personal tasks. He has been diagnosed with scoliosis and requires a brace. He is also unable to speak fluently, however, speech therapy may help improve this.

“When I first met Thomas, my eyes welled up with tears, not because I felt sorry for him but because he reminded me to never feel sorry for myself,” Bhajan said.

“Thomas, despite his challenges, is compassionate, happy and brilli­ant. Thomas is loved dearly by both his parents and two brothers. I believe Thomas’ story is worth sharing as he gives us all hope and inspiration. There is no doubt that Thomas has great potential within him, and like every child, I believe Thomas deserves a chance. With God’s blessing, I know Thomas’ true potential will be realised and his life will be changed positively.”

Bhajan said after the foundation’s first visit to Thomas on June 30, its members were determined to pursue every avenue and find out whether anything could be done to help Tho­mas become mobile. 

“We were happy to learn that with physiotherapy, a prosthetic device and an orthotic device, Tho­mas will be able to walk,” Bha­jan said.

The foundation is in the process of raising funds to assist Thomas, and Dr Ian Mahase, who specialises in biomechanics, has agreed to assist the foundation with this project. 

“Thomas is brilliant but has ne­v­er attended school,” she said, ad­ding this is yet another gift the foun­dation would like to give him. 

Thomas is as yet unable to write with his toes, which Bhajan has mastered, and when she demonstrated this ability to him, he attempted to follow suit.

“We believe with proper attention and training, Thomas will be able to write with his toes,” Bhajan said.

On Thursday, the foundation hosted a surprise birthday party for Thomas at Bhajan’s home in Chagua­nas. Thomas was presented with a laptop, donated by volunteers of the foundation. 

He was also excited by his birthday cake, featuring the popular catoon character Spongebob, donated by Bakery Treatz of Endeavour, Chaguanas. 

The foundation’s executive and volunteer team comprise of family members and close friends of Bha­jan who have supported her throughout her life.

“As the foundation grows, we will be accepting other interested persons to be part of the volunteer team for upcoming projects,” she said.

Anyone interested in the foundation can message Bhajan on the foundation’s Facebook page: www.face-

book.com/footprintsfoundationtt, or e-mail her at footprintsfoundationtt@gmail.com. 

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