Stories of positive women surround us. Many people show us what it means to have courage and be kind. There are several examples of empowered women making a change in others life. Here is one such story of a lady called Dr Michelle Harrison.

Based in New Jersey, her life was set. Her career encompassed everything one would want in their life. She was a gynaecologist-cum-psychiatrist and was the executive director at Johnson & Johnson Institute for Children.  Along with this, she has taught at many leading universities such as Harvard, Rutgers and the University of Pittsburg.

Harrison is a cancer survivor and also speaks broken Bengali.

But, then she made a decision which would impact many people. She decided to leave New Jersey and come to Kolkata so as to house and be like a mother to many abandoned girls who were differently-abled.

This all started with the adoption of her second child, Cecilia Devyani Harrison, in the year 1984. In the year, 2004, she took her daughter to Kolkata. “I wanted to unite her with her biological parents,” said Harrison.

“Her tryst with deceit, falsehood and the appalling state of these children helped make up her mind to do something about them.”

In the year 2001, they went to the place where Cecilia was adopted – the International Mission of Hope (IMH). At IMF, a masi had come to meet them. Recalling that instance, she said: “We were told she was Cecilia’s biological mother. They even produced a twin sister, a biological father and a grandmother who were pining for her.”

Dr Michelle Harrison
Dr Michelle Harrison

As many adopted children want to know their biological parents and family, there was no reason for them to not believe them. However, when Cecilia overheard something which she felt “didn’t make sense,” Harrison started wondering if something was amiss. Therefore, she got Cecilia’s DNA test done and found out that it did not match with any of them.

Apart from this, Harrison found out that the children who are differently-abled in several such homes were kept tied to their beds. “Her tryst with deceit, falsehood and the appalling state of these children helped make up her mind to do something about them.”

After her successful battle with cancer, she sold her house in New Jersey and moved to Kolkata. She built ‘Shishur Sevay’. This is a shelter and a facilitating centre for differently-abled girls. Situated in New Alipore’s Sahapur, this place houses girls having disabilities of varying degrees including autism, microcephaly and cerebral palsy.

In the year 2013, she set up a learning centre called ‘Ichhe Dana’ on the top floor of Shishur Sevay. The girls attend classes’ everyday here. Three of the girls from there will also be appearing for the National Institute for Open Schooling examination next year.

Harrison was able to introduce the Sweden-made Tobii Eye Tracker. This helps the girls having disabilities communicate their thoughts and needs by simply using their eyes on a screen.

Apart from this, Harrison was able to introduce the Sweden-made Tobii Eye Tracker. This helps the girls having disabilities communicate their thoughts and needs by simply using their eyes on a screen. This was introduced for the very first time in India and this system is used in class and for informal communication. It also helps the older girls speak with their sisters.

It isn’t that Harrison has not faced difficulties. She has tackled extortion calls and has been able thwart veiled threats coming from realtors. However, her current major worry is regarding the safety of her children and the funding of Shishur Shivay after her death.

Talking about her daughters she said, “My daughters are my pillars of strength. Both keep coming to visit me once in a while.” Her daughter, Heather Volik is a lawyer and Cecilia is a drummer.

Read also – National Safe Motherhood Day: How It Started, What Doctors Say

Kavya Shah is an intern at SheThePeople.Tv

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