All the world's a ramp

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Tamana, along with leading designers, organized a fashion show to raise awareness on people with special needs.

When Dr. Shyama Chona started Tamana in 1984 she realized it wasn’t going to be an easy ride. “Tamana has had to literally fight for survival,” she says. This non-profit voluntary organization, which was created solely for the purpose of providing help to children and adults with developmental and multiple disabilities, started in a small shed and went through extreme hardships to reach where it has. Today it has four centers in Delhi, with plans to open five new centers in other parts of the country. In a step forward to raise public awareness and encourage the understanding and acceptance of people with special needs, Tamana along with a slew of leading designers from the fashion fraternity, held a fashion show recently in at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi. It was a night of glamour and glitter as models, celebrities and students from the special school sashayed down the ramp in fine-looking designer ensembles. Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was the chief guest. “I admire Dr. Chona, who took upon herself to start Tamana School. It is now 26 years old and I really commend her ability to serve and help the differently-abled children and their families.” She added: “It has been really heart-warming to see the children perform, dance and (take part in) the fashion show. …there clearly isn’t any need for them to feel inferior to a normal child.”

Anuradha Raman designed the collection, which was worn by well-known personalities like Margaret Alva, Governor of Uttarakhand; Louise Khurshid, wife of Salman Khurshid; Promilla Sibal, wife of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal; Shahnaz Husain, CEO, Shahnaz Herbals; and singer Shibani Kashyap, who walked the ramp with the kids from the school.

Other major designers, who showcased their collections at the event were Sunit Verma, J.J. Valaya, Payal Jain, Meera and Muzaffar Ali, Malini Ramani, Satya Paul and Asha and Gautam Gupta. Among other performances from the students of Tamana, Divakar Sharma mesmerized the audience with his rendition of popular Bollywood numbers.

Sunil Sethi, president, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), was felicitated with a “Humanitarian Award” for outstanding contribution to the inclusion of fashion in the world of the differently-abled. “I am going to cherish this award, but more than me I think Tamana deserves it,” said Sethi.

Actor Dia Mirza ended the evening by paying tribute to the hard work and dedication put in by Dr. Chona and the staff of Tamana and also pledged support to the worthy cause.

But even Dr. Chona agreed that the challenges that lay ahead are much bigger that putting together an event like this. “We are not yet a civilized society. These kids do not have a place in the hearts of the people of India. They are shunned, they are laughed at, and there is no understanding among people that they would always need a civil human society to support them. So a lot is to be done and miles to go before I sleep. These children need encouragement, emotional and financial support from all of us and unless each one of us decides to hold at least one child’s hand – and there are about 80 to 100 million such kids in the country – they will perish.”

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