Naseema was born in September 1950 at Solapur, Maharashtra, India. She was a happy active teenager taking part in sports and cultural activities when she was struck with paraplegia at the tender age of 16 years. Her father who was her strongest support died soon after she became paraplegic. Naseema silently suffered the trauma and physical discomfort for several years. During this difficult period her family stood solidly behind her. Her father’s motivation in the form of a couplet always ringed in her ears. “Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna Ki Har Taqdeer Se Pahle – Khuda Bande Se Khud Pooche Bata Teri Raza Kya Hai – Raise yourself to such a status that God himself would ask you your wish).With inspiration and motivation from Shri Babu Kaka Diwan a paraplegic who ran his own industry, drove his own car and traveled by airplane Naseema overcame her personal grief and completed her graduation and got employment in Central Excise Department on her own merit where she rose to the position of Deputy Office Superintendent before resigning to take up ‘Helpers’ work full time. She participated in the “Stock Mandville Games” for the handicapped held in London in 1973.
While in London she met handicapped persons from all over the world. Seeing the facilities for the handicapped in London and confidence of handicapped from developed countries Naseema decided to work for the physically handicapped. She formed an organization with a few but soon realized that her idea of social work and rehabilitation of disabled was very different from her colleagues. She started anew and formed ‘Helpers of the Handicapped, Kolhapur’ in 1983 with her close friend Rajani Karkare Deshpande and others.
Naseema has received several awards and recognitions. A list of awards won is given elsewhere. A few recognitions are as under:
- A portrait of her life and work was included in the book “Daughters of Maharashtra” a record of exceptional Maharashtrian women.
- She was appointed by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India on the Committee under the “National Commission for Women” as a “Member of Expert Committee on Disabled Women” as well as on the Committee under ‘National Trust’ for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities. This three member committee comprised of the District Collector, Indian Red Cross Authority and Naseema.
- She was invited as a Special Guest for the International Year of Women’s Empowerment 2001 celebration by Maharashtra Foundation in New Jersey, USA.
- She was appointed as a Member of the Advisory Committee of Stri Abhyas Kendra (Women’s Study Centre) of Shivaji University, Kolhapur.
- She was conferred Honorary Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by Dr. D.Y. Patil University, Kolhapur on 17 Feb 2014 in recognition of her outstanding contribution in the field of social service.
Naseema has humbly received all awards as representative of ‘Helpers’. She acknowledges that she could not have done anything without whole hearted support of her colleagues, donors, and well wishers.