Diya Trust

Disabledchild India is committed to every child/ young person with a disability taking their rightful place in society; educated, employable, happy and independent, within the limits of their disability.

Diya Trust - Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Diya Trust - Chennai, Tamil Nadu, IndiaDiya started its work with children with disabilities in 2003. It was founded by Mrs. Rebecca Isaac, who following her retirement, decided that she wanted to put her skills in special education to good use. The charity initially focused on working with deaf children, as this was the area of Rebecca’s expertise. Diya’s early work with deaf children included preparing and training teachers in the use of language resources, various training programmes for teachers and parents and camps for children. This work has now expanded into the area of Autism, mainly reflecting the increasing numbers of children diagnosed with autism and the lack of services for children with the condition that are from poor families. Diya runs a learning centre for children with Autism in the town of Tirunelvelli. This remains our biggest project to date. We currently cater to 18 children, though number fluctuate either way. Our children come from a range of different back grounds. Their severity of autism and associated impairments also vary considerably.

Please look through these pages and if you are interested in contributing to our work, do not hesitate to contact us.


About the  Trustees and Board Members

Mrs. Rebecca Isaac, Managing Trustee

Diya Trust 002Mrs Isaac, M.A.,M.Ed.,S.D.T.D., has had 35 years of experience as an edcationalist, both for normal and for hearing impaired children. Blessed with the capacity to build institutions, she was instrumental in starting the Rangammal School for the Deaf in Tiruvannamalai which she headed for 11 years. She then managed a project of Nambikkai Foundation – Deafchild India, which specialised in training hearing impaired children and adults in Information and Communication Technology.

Mrs Isaac strongly believes that the key to integrating hearing impaired young people into the mainstream of society lies in helping them acquire age-appropriate language . She developed several methods and aids to improve the language skills of this target group and proved this conclusivley in a tri-nation (the UK, Netherlands and Czech Republic) study  sponsored by the  European Commission. Notably, this effort earned her a Post Graduate Degree in Special Education Needs .

Mrs Isaac hopes to continue the realization of this dream of integrating hearing impaired children into their homes, schools and into society at large, through the Diya Trust.

She secured her Ph.D. at the age of 65 from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli.


Judah S.G.Vincent, Secretary cum Treasurer

Diya Trust 013A Mechanical Engineer (B.E.) by training, Judah worked with the state owned BHEL for well over a decade in different parts of the country. Later, he moved to the private sector and held senior positions in a few engineering organizations before entering the socio-development sector.

He has worked amongst people with a variety of disabilities including those arising from Leprosy. His involvement in this field also took him to Afghanistan where he headed a rehabilitation research project for the mine-wounded.



Mrs Anita Sathiaraj, Trustee

Diya Trust 012Mrs. Anita Sathiaraj, a Maths graduate with additional qualification in computer programming is married, with two teenage sons. She is an avid reader of books, loves spending time with children and takes great pride in helping the lesser privileged children. Being a friendly and affable person she enjoys building sustained relationship with friends.

Mrs. Anita Sathiaraj enjoys co-ordinating activities for children and teenagers and has taken several leadership roles. As an empathetic person she is willing to lend a helping hand whenever required. She has good command over the English language.

Her husband manages a business and together, they support several orphanages and under-privileged families. Her mother is a seasoned educationalist and retired  Principal  of one of the premium schools in Chennai.


Mrs. Divya Nirmalkumar Thomas, Trustee

photo- 7 yrs experience as graphic designer & animator

- possessed with the desire to help the underprivileged

- worked three years with deaf children and adults

- trained teachers of the deaf in basics of computer

A web graphic designer and animator by profession, Divya Nirmalkumar Thomas entered the world of the Hearing Impaired through Mrs Rebecca Isaac.  Mrs Isaac was then working in Deafchild India (DCI), an organisation which worked for the betterment of deaf school children throughout Tamil Nadu.  Divya Thomas joined the organisation as a graphic designer in May 2003.

Armed with three years of experience in the fast-paced IT industry, Divya Thomas brought to life the creations of Miss Benedicta Isaac, Speech Therapist and Mrs Rebecca Isaac, Educator of the Deaf, in the form of books and CDs.  These were no ordinary items – they were special tools made to help improve the language of the deaf child  in the form of stories, games and fun activities.

Mrs Vatsala Gilbert, Trustee

Diya Trust 010Mrs Gilbert is a seasoned educationalist with some 35 years of teaching experience, mostly in government schools. This brought her face to face with under-privileged children whose lot in life disturbed her heart. An expert in organising summer camps and activities for school children and teenagers, Mrs Gilbert tends to build lasting relationships with young people. Since her retirement some years ago, Mrs Gilbert has been working with organizations that are compatible with her humanitarian ethos.

A mother of 3 children, all of whom are highly qualified and settled abroad, Mrs Vatsala Gilbert brings a wealth of experience to the trust.


 Mrs. Gnanaranjitham Paul, Trustee

TrusteeMrs.Gnana Ranjitham who worked as a Zoology assistant in St.Ignatius’ Convent Higher Secondary School, Palayamkottai, retired from service after almost 35 years of successful career as a teacher. Now she pursues her long time passion for writing story books for kids, one of which has been published with many more to follow.

Being a naturalist and a lover of animals, all her bilingual books are animal story books which are educative too. She believes that good story books are a must for children not only for enjoyment but also for gaining knowledge and moulding their character for future society. Hence she has found her niche in Diya’s new project ‘Kadhai Kadhiyam’ which helps the hearing impaired children in their learning process. She has joined the workforce of Diya Trust with great enthusiasm.


Mrs Henrietta Isaac, Member of the Advisory Board

Diya Trust 004Henrietta Isaac is currently a microfinance practitioner, heading Marketing and Business Development in Growing Opportunity, a microfinance company in Chennai and an implementing partner of Opportunity International. She is trained in microfinance from the prestigious Boulder Institute of Microfinance and heads product development and  marketing initiatives in Growing Opportunity.

Hennrietta began her career as an Insurance professional, working with a leading nationalized non-life insurance company in India. She went on to do her MBA from the Leeds University Business School, UK, during which period she developed an interest in Corporate Social Responsibility. On her return to India, she had a stint in Executive Search and some freelance Business Consulting before joining the Tata Consultancy Services as a Domain Consultant in Insurance, developing solutions and frameworks for insurance companies around the world and supporting software projects. After 2 years with TCS, Henrietta felt the need to move on to something more meaningful.

Henrietta was also consultant with Deafchild India, helping connect trained Hearing Impaired adults with suitable jobs. She also helped with general administrationas a volunteer in all of Deafchild India’s programmes, workshops and camps.


Mrs. Pearl S.Vincent, Member of the Advisory Board

Diya Trust 011Pearl is an English language specialist, with  M.A. and B.Ed. qualifications.  Apart from teaching in schools -  which she did for many years in Delhi and Chennai -  Pearl has also been involved in improving the English proficiency of foreigners sojourning in India, notably those from Japan and Korea.  

From time to time, Pearl has worked with organizations serving persons with hearing and speech impairment.               


Mrs Benedicta Isaac Kumar, Member of the Advisory Board

Diya Trust 008Benedicta Isaac is a trained Speech Pathologist and Audiologist, specializing in speech therapy for hearing impaired, mentally retarded and autistic children. As a practising Speech Pathologist in Chennai, Benedicta Isaac worked with an ENT specialist and with several special schools in and around the city. She also trained Special Education Trainees in Speech and Audiology.

She was a consultant Speech Therapist with Deafchild India and had the opportunity to present a paper on ‘Systematic Teaching of Language to Deaf Children’ at the National Conference for Special Educators. She was the ‘creative head’ for the series of language lessons that were developed by Deafchild India, which aimed at systematically developing language skills in hearing impaired children.  She is also Chairman/Founder of DisabledChild India.


Mrs. Ruth Bennet, Member of the Advisory Board

Diya Trust 009Mrs Ruth Bennet is trained with the prestigious Taj Group of hotels and has acquired the skill and expertise in the Hospital Industry. She is experienced as a teacher and head of schools. Until recenty, she was also the chair person of membership activities committee YWCA of Madras. She has also in the past been convener of YWCA of Madras Children’s Summer camp and Treasurer of St. Andrew’s Women’s Fellowship.

Mrs Ruth Bennet  is a volunteer in various charitable organizations such as Banyan, Swallows India, Ideas for Women, Zonta International Club for Women and YWCA of Madras and her expert  networking capabilities would greatly benefit this Trust .

Her event management  ability is highly commendable and she is also an excllent team player.