On encouragement from art lovers, Karishma had her first solo exhibition of 45 paintings in November 2011 in Ho Chi Minh City. Her inspiring and moving story struck a cord with the audience and all her works were sold out within few minutes, raising US$ 11,500, which she chose to donate to special schools and home for challenged elders in Vietnam. Organizations have been inviting Karishma to participate in their annual Corporate Social Responsibility activities. In January 2013, her 3 paintings were auctioned and helped to raise funds to the tune of US$ 15,000 which is being used for various charity activities in Vietnam through NGOs. Her paintings have received appreciation from art lovers around the world.
(18 years - present)
With all round inputs, Karishma has been growing up into a confident young adult with a positive self image.
The next big change happened in 2008 when the family had to once again relocate to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Karishma was 18 years by then. Culture, language, food-habits, schools, medical facilities, work-culture, life-style, almost every aspect of living needed some readjustment and adapting for the family, as this was their first experience living out of India. The family had challenging times as there were no appropriate schooling facilities for Karishma. The absence of formal special schools (in English) inspired them to explore other avenues. It helped Karishma to progress in many new areas and opened new doors of opportunities for her, a blessing in disguise!
Since 2009, Karishma has been learning and performing Yoga with Ms Binh (who is a special educator and Yoga teacher trained from Japan Yoga College). Karishma’s Yoga practice and its benefits to special children in particular, has been featured in a Japanese magazine, ‘Miki- House’. She continues to contribute by assisting her teacher in yoga work-shops for community schools in central Vietnam and special schools in Saigon.
Karishma was lucky to meet the right people at the right time. The family met Ms. Cyndi Beaumont (art teacher) in 2009. A special bonding developed between Ms Cyndi and her student, leading her to find her self expression through paintings. Karishma works with acrylics on canvas and creates her art-work using different medium and techniques. Her inspiration comes from her various travels in Vietnam and other countries and the natural sceneries.
Music, bowling and travelling are amongst her other favorite hobbies and the family encourage her by participating and dedicating lot of time for the same. Karishma has been lately learning key-board. She has already travelled to 9 different countries with her family and she looks forward to traveling more in the future. She likes to assume certain responsibilities and has learnt to independently care for herself. Although Karishma has found very good friends in her teachers, she is still struggling to find friends of her age. Language constraints pose a major challenge. Karishma is comfortable speaking in English and a few Indian languages.Vietnamese is predominantly used in Vietnam for communication. Karishma is learning to deal with the absence of her sister Kajol since she moved to university in Australia in 2012, and looks forward to their holidays together. New addition in the family- a pet dog- Bonbon, received good care and attention from Karishma!
Karishma enjoys physical exercise and work-outs and is presently inspired by trainer Jillion Michael’s work-out videos. Her regular health check up indicates good health record and she continues medication for her hypothyroidism.
This stage seems to be a turning point in her life as Karishma is enjoying giving back to her world. The family feels happy, humbled and blessed to see her as a contributing member of the society. Karishma carries herself with a sense of positive self-worth and self image and looks forward to a happy future.
After returning from Vietnam in 2015, Karishma lived in Mumbai for 2 years during which she participated in Shaimak Dawar’s dance school and performed on stage. She also taught yoga for special children. She has now relocated to Bangalore with her family and has set up her own art studio and a recreation centre for young adults with down syndrome called, Studio 21 UP.
Karishma is the recipient of the ‘World Downs Syndrome International Award’ 2014 and again in 2018 she received the self-advocacy award from India International Down syndrome Federation. She is part of an NGO – Not Just Art and exhibited her art work in an event in Mumbai – ‘Believe in Yourself”.
Karishma held her first solo art exhibition in India, Bangalore in November 2018. 30 paintings were exhibited. It exhibition was well received and generated lot of awareness and interest in her work. All proceeds from this exhibition was donated for a cause including, Not Just Art.
Karishma continues to inspire one and all…
Our daughter Karishma
Parent’s experience - Q&A
When did you first realize Karishma was interested in art and how did you encourage her interest?
When we relocated to Vietnam, Karishma could not attend Special schools due to language constraints. The absence of formal schooling facility encouraged us to explore many other alternate avenues. She spent some time experimenting with pottery, gardening and weaving. She was lucky to meet the right people at the right time! A chance meeting with Ms Cyndi Beaumont, art teacher from UK, proved to be a turning point in Karishma’s life at this stage. There was an instant connecting and although Ms Cyndi had no formal exposure in working with special needs people, she happened to be the perfect teacher for Karishma. Ms Cyndi worked with Karishma on one to one, and the beautiful world of colors and imaginations, variety of mediums and techniques caught Karishma’s interest. Her attention span increased remarkably. A special bonding developed between Ms Cyndi and her student leading her to find her self expression through her paintings. It was a delight watching them work together, indoors and some times outdoors as well. As a family we supported and encouraged her every stage of involvement by participating with her in every way.
Apart from painting and Yoga, she has developed many interests. Karishma contributed her services briefly in a Café, where she along with few other special friends served customers and ensured happy customer-care. Karishma enjoys music and lately has been learning to play key-board. ‘Que sera, sera…what ever will be, will be…’ is currently her favorite number and she relentlessly attempts to perfect it no mater how challenging it is for her to play! Bowling has now become a family activity for the weekends as she enjoys it very much. She loves travelling and has been to 9 countries so far. She enjoys adventure sports and has explored (under water) ocean-walking in Bali, jet-skiing, Para-sailing and swimming in the sea in the beaches of Vietnam. She has ventured to take worlds fastest rides at the Ferrari world, Abu Dhabi, experienced sand dune rides in the desserts of Dubai. Occasionally gardening, cooking, caring for her pet, exercising daily, dancing and watching movies is her favorite pass time.
At present,(as of July 2013) Karishma can independently deal with all her normal ‘activities of daily living’ like for example she begins the day waking up, taking her prescribed medicines, brushing teeth, bathing-shampooing, choosing her cloths from ward-robe, grooming self and joining family for break-fast. She can help with fixing a simple meal and all other normal domestic chores like setting table for lunch/dinner, serving, clearing, cleaning after meals, washing, gardening etc. She enjoys being a very caring host! She can independently use electric gadgets like music systems, TV, i-pad, hair-dryer, tread-mill and some exercising equipments. She prefers to have supervision while using gadgets like microwave, washing machine, ironing box, grinders and cooking stoves. Outside home, she conducts herself safely and prefers company. As she is not very comfortable with money-concepts because she had to deal with different currencies, she prefers elder’s company while shopping but chooses what to shop independently. She cannot yet use public transport independently. She served in a café briefly and was acknowledged for building good customer relationship. She can assist her teacher in yoga camps.
Sometimes a sudden change in her planned schedule for the day upsets Karishma. She likes to plan ahead all her activities and participates in discussing all details. Although she understands when explained but there is an initial display of disturbance if there is a change. The communication gaps due to foreign language and culture or lack of awareness in general sometimes disturbs her and causes her stress when she feels she is not being understood by others. Talking to her and making her aware of the differences mostly helps the situation. Sometimes avoiding situations and company where she feels her self image is affected seems the best solutions and sometimes as parents we do make the effort of building awareness amongst her immediate circle of influence.
To us, Karishma has always been a blessing and a guiding angel. She has taught us the true meaning of ‘life’ and ‘living’! Talking about her personality, she is a very independent young adult. She is warm, caring and affectionate and always ready to reach-out. She likes to relate and likes a ‘happy family’ around her. She lives in the moment totally. She has a very good self-image and positive attitude. Karishma is aware of her limitations too. She is very vulnerable and emotional person and hence can get disturbed easily. She respects and loves people who are close to her. Her love is unconditional. She is adaptable and loves surprises. She likes good attention from people around her. Karishma is very expressive and demonstrative. She aspires to be able to go to some special university like her sister! She dreams about a happy family life and a ‘prince charming’ like any other young adult. Karishma is beautiful, in her looks and also in her outlook to life. She is gifted with inner and outer beauty!
As parents we are enjoying dedicating ourselves to our children and we are happy that both our children are doing very well in their respective lives. While our younger one, Kajol is moving on in life, studied in University of her Choice, in Australia and now employed in Melbourne, we do wish Karishma had better options too to grow in her area of interests. While we can dedicate rest of our lives in creating a better world around Karishma, our major concern will always be ‘what after us?’ Finding answers…!