Khadija Khatoon from West Bengal has been confined to her house for most of her 21 years, except when her father would take her to the city to beg.
But this was only until October this year. Because Khadija's father was disturbed by people who use his daughter an object to photograph and would give only Rs 5 or less in return, said 46-year-old Jay Verma, a volunteer of SOUL Angels group, which is collecting funds for Khadija’s treatment.
Sydney-based Naseeb Ahluwalia founded Soul Angels attempts to raise money for Khadija after Logical Indian post went viral.
Khadija has a rare condition which makes her face susceptible to tumours-like growth, doctors say. However, it is unclear whether the growth is cancerous.
Her mother Amina Bibi told The News Minute that Khadija did not open her eyes for days after she was born. The skin on her face is continually growing. She was taken to close to 5 doctors but all of them gave up hope.
Now, with the campaign on Soul Angels, Rs.7.8 lakh has been raised through a campaign on crowdfunding website Ketto.org to raise Rs 10 lakh for rehabilitation after surgery that might restore her face and also to build a house for Khadija and her family. They have a week's time to raise the rest of the money.
When Verma met Khadija's father Rashid Mulla, he was told that people would photograph the girl and would give just Rs 5 in return.
“Her father would take Khadija, who has facial deformities to beg on the posh roads in Kolkata, which is about 60 km from the village. Through this he would make over Rs 6000 a month," he said.
“For a very long time I saw her begging on the streets. But, I never bothered to approach her until I realised she was missing for a long time in October. I tried to find her through the picture that was circulating on the web. One of my colleagues found where she lived," Verma said.
In October, after Logical Indian's post went viral, more people started troubling the duo for photographs and Mulla decided to stop taking her out to the streets, said Verma.
Dr. Mustafa K, craniomaxillofacial surgeon from Mangaluru-based Face Foundation had offered free surgical treatment for Khatoon. He visited her home in Kolkata on November 29 to clinically examine her.
Based on preliminary examination, Dr. Mustafa says Khadija appears to have neurofibromatosis, a condition that makes her face prone to tumours. However, he said that more tests needed to be done to determine whether the surgical treatment would indeed be helpful or not.
“We will talk to the parents and decide on a date when they can bring Khadija to our Face foundation in Mangaluru to get an opinion from my team to come out with a comprehensive plan,” he said.