July - September 2001
Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India
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Nirja (Wanchoo) Mattoo
Nirja Mattoo is an Executive Director of Community Aid & Sponsorship Program, a National NGO involved in the development of 30,000 children in ten (10) states. She started her career in the CASP - Plan Project as a Project Director working for the deprived children and women in the slum areas wherein the impact of contribution has led to upgrade the quality of life and empowering the children and women for their rights.
Nirja has participated and made presentations at various National and International forums. Her specialization has been Community Development. She has developed a comparative study of community empowerment in three countries in Latin America (Bolivia, Equador, & Peru). As a country representative, she was deputed for an Advocacy Course at the School of International Learning, Washington D. C. and New York.
Nirja's present assignment involves program intervention for the child labour issues like girl child prostitution, children working in the restaurants and children affected by the earthquake at Kutch, Gujarat. Since political conflict has significantly affected the children of the families residing in Jammu & Kashmir, a project for the children is being considered by the CASP. Training has been one of the key areas of her interest and hence she will be imparting training to the authorities of the Jammu & Kashmir jails.
At the regional level, her concentration work has been networking with various NGO and collaborating with the state of Gujarat on HIV, AIDS, targeted intervention and awareness prodromes. She has been advocating the process of forming a national networking forum for the Children Rights and Bal Panchayat.
It is a matter of pleasure and pride for all of us that many members of the community have made a mark in their field and are making significant contributions to the society at large. We will be ultimately recognised by our merit, by contribution to common good and by dedication to the cause we individually decide to pursue.
Nirja, earlier Wanchoo and now Mattoo after her marriage to Sharad Mattoo is one of those youngsters of the Mumbai community who has made a mark in her field. Nirja chose the field of Social Welfare after graduating from the Tata Institute of Social Studies. Armed with the educational background she plunged into the field with dedication and devotion.
Nirja is the daughter of late N. N. Wanchoo
who was the moving spirit behind the community activities for over five
decades. Some think that social awareness and urge to serve the society
has come to Nirja from her father. They are not entirely far from the truth.
When I asked her as to how she rates her fathers influence over her work,
she modestly said that she cannot reach that. She admitted that for social
work besides being a cause and passion is also her economic sustenance,
while for her father it had been a cause without any personal profit. Nirja
during her youth was actively connected to the youth Club of Kashmiri Pandits.
She takes a lot of interest in matters related to the Kashmiri Pandit Society.