Treading on a Different Path

Editor’s Note: 

We hope our series on People of Determination is insightful and beneficial to our readers. In our endeavor to cover all the aspects of nurturing a special needs child, this month we engaged in a conversation with the parent of a special needs child who is also determined to bring about a change in this community with her consistent efforts. Hope it edifies our readers.


A committed parent, mother of a differently abled teenager, an advocate of inclusion in the society who relentlessly works towards the cause of the special needs community, and a woman with strong willpower, grit & determination, that’s who Zeba Hashmi is.

Zeba has been instrumental in the conceptualization of ALS Parwaaz Forum– an initiative of the Asian Literary Society to support this cause. This is a path less taken and has challenges that are not easy to overcome, but with firm determination and effective networking skills, Zeba has succeeded in making a difference in society.

Zeba shared a beautiful quote by Rumi during our discussion, “I once had a thousand desires but in my one desire to know you, all else melted away.” She resonates with this thought since she as an individual has seen numerous dreams for her son and herself and has witnessed them shatter but she firmly believes that God is the best planner. Hence, she stopped dreaming and took it upon herself to tread on the path chosen for her by the Almighty. All she dreams of now is, for her son to be independent and survive well when she is not around, just like all the parents who are blessed with children with different needs.

The journey with her autistic child wasn’t an easy one for Zeba. When she relocated to Ahmedabad a decade ago, she was quite taken aback by the lack of awareness, facilities, and opportunities for people with special needs. Through social media, she made various groups to bring parents of special needs individuals & professionals under one roof. Though the primary concern was her son, she considered it her moral obligation to support and guide this community.

She has been successfully organizing seminars, training programs, talent shows, and exhibitions where products made by the community are displayed and sold to raise funds. The panel discussions were held through the Asian Literary Society forum where speakers and dignitaries from across the globe were invited to share their viewpoints and suggestions to aid the community. She has also contributed to an anthology by the Asian Literary Society named “Trails of Hope”, which has covered the various teaching strategies for special needs individuals.

It is important to create awareness and acceptance among society, and all these efforts and initiatives have helped to include people from all walks of life to come forward to collaborate and support.

We all wish to provide the best facilities to our children. Zeba believes that things are destined to happen and she’s glad that she provided the best as per her abilities, knowledge, and resources available. She doesn’t regret not having a lucrative career like many others around her but she believes that her son has brought her recognition, though in a different way. There are moments when she questions life and seeks answers, but she knows that she will be enlightened when the right time comes.

Nisha Tandon

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