The True Essence Of Beauty
Her polished appearance and compassionate nature make her the picture perfect ambassador for philanthropy from the city. She works tirelessly spearheading her family’s charitable ventures – as CEO of Hothur Charitable Trust and Director of the Asian Arab Chamber of Commerce for Riyadh, this dynamic lady is a smart businesswoman and compassionate philanthropist all rolled into one stunning package. Her dedication to humanitarian work is commendable and has been recognised on many levels by the scores of less privileged people whom she works with, more recently by the Global Achievers Foundation for her active participation in social work. Be it orphaned children, differently abled adults, neglected elders or acid attack victims, Kulsum Shadab Wahab is happy to lend her compassionate shoulder, along with generously opening her purse-strings to the underprivileged who need her support. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, RITZ commends this philanthropist with a heart of gold and lauds her efforts at doing the best she can to give back to society.
Beyond her stunning looks, flawless skin and perfect sense of fashion lies the heart of a woman who tirelessly reaches out to those who are less privileged than she is, especially acid attack victims who are the current focus of her philanthropic work. Says the lady herself, “I choose not to publicize my charitable work a lot because all of what I do is funded by a family-held trust. The Hothur Charitable Trust is promoted by Wahab Group of Companies, a name associated with diverse businesses in Karnataka. The company has always believed in giving back to society and our Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) initiatives are overseen by me.”
Many of Kulsum Shadab Wahab’s days are spent visiting various centres in the city that have tied up with the Hothur Charitable Trust. Sometimes you can find her in the midst of a group of excited children clambering all over her, often smearing her garments with paint-smudged fingers. She’s actively working to give voice to victims of acid attacks and the problems they face being re-integrated into society. She’s vociferous in her advocation of skin banking, a concept still new and uncommon in India, but one that needs to be popularized immediately. “Skin banking is a process in which skin is removed from a donor body, tested for suitability as a graft material, packaged, stored, and finally reused as a graft. The process is similar to that of blood banking and comes as a life saver for those suffering from burns or acid attacks,” explains the pretty crusader. “Most of my work with acid attack victims is concentrated out of cities like Delhi and Mumbai, where such attacks are more common. My heart bleeds when I meet and interact with these women, for most of them life has been dramatically altered in the fraction of a minute. They need compassion, understanding and unequivocal love and support from us, but are so weary of being treated like pariahs that they hardly ever leave the confines of their home. My work with them gives them courage, our charity pays for their medical treatment and often we are able to help them gain a new lease to life and help them find work in back offices or other places where they can earn a comfortable living and find new meaning to their life,” she tells passionately.
Quick to recognise her husband, Hothur Shadab Wahab’s support and guidance in finding the real meaning to her life, Kulsum says that she loves being on the giving end and is eternally thankful for having been given the opportunity to serve others. “Not everyone can say they have a life like mine,” she tells with her trademark tinkling laugh. “I work with people less privileged, have a large and supportive family who I adore and gain the blessings and good wishes of everyone who I help. I’m at peace with myself doing what I’m doing and have no regrets that I’m not in a corporate job making tons of money. I feel blessed to have been chosen to do what I do,” she adds.
THAT LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE
Helping the differently abled and underprivileged is something that I always wanted to do. While walking past a park near my home some years ago I came upon a group of young differently abled children playing in a small play-centre created for them there. I had read a book ‘Exceptional Children Exceptional Art’ by Davis and it really touched my heart. I knew then that I wanted to do something more to help such young children using a medium through which I could boost their confidence and give them a purpose to life.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The head of our family, my father–in–law Hothur Abdul Wahab, always taught us to give back to society. He encourages philanthropic work and taught us the importance of serving society. He has been instrumental in establishing the Trust and the work it does today. Going forward my husband Hothur Shadab Wahab established a corporate structure into the Trust by hiring professionals to manage it efficiently. Our entire work is monitored by professionals who report to me in my capacity as the CEO.
We have conducted various projects and programmes for disabled children, education, adequate meals, medical support, sports facilities, self-employment, constructing bus shelters and social and woman empowerment. Our trust also works with other associate organisations like Smyle Foundation, Save The Children, ProVISION Asia, and we also do our bit for wild life protection. Another initiative of the trust close to my heart is called Colours of Hope – a small art camp for underprivileged children, just so that they can spend their time productively.
What began as a small art workshop for eight or nine children gradually grew into Colours Of Hope, an initiative of the trust, that works towards empowering differently abled children through art therapy. After employing a full-time psychiatrist and roping in volunteers and helpers, we now work with more than 320 children. These children draw and paint and we convert their work into greeting cards, tea coasters, book marks, calendars and other such stationery and sell them through various exhibitions held in Bengaluru. The proceeds from these sales go towards betterment of the charity.
I also started EMPOWHER WITH ProVISION Asia, a platform through which we offer differently abled women vocational training and job placements. SAROJ is another initiative of the trust where we work with female acid attack victims, offering them training and placements so that they too can earn a livelihood and be a part of society.
WHAT WE ARE TODAY
From starting out with eight children and a few women, my charities today support more than 320 children and 170 women. My goal is to provide all those supported through my charity with the opportunity to lead a rich and fulfilling life. I work in tandem with several agencies making these people aware of their rights and the kind of benefits being offered to them by the government.
I especially want to make acid attack victims the main focus of my work for a while now because I really feel for them and want to offer them some quality to a life that was cruelly snatched away from them. Harsher punishment for attackers is also something I seriously advocate because many times we have seen offenders walk free after serving a sentence of just 4 or 5 years. The victim however, is scarred for life and her future very rarely takes a turn for the better.
People from the upper echelons of society often do not know or understand such victims’ pain. It’s only after you interact with them and begin to care for them that you actually feel the bleakness of life as they live it each day.
Yet another of our programs is in association with ProVISION Asia when we sponsored some students in pursuing their education. Hothur Charitable trust is planning a hospital, that will benefit the needy. Treatment at subsidised rates will be offered to them.
For more details please visit: www.hothurtrust.com