After Marie-Francoise Bisson ("Mary") retired in
2009 from her special needs teacher and
educational psychologist post at the Office
Medico-Pédagogique in Geneva, she decided
to live in the north Indian holy city Banaras
(Varanasi) for 6 months a year. There she
started working as a full-time professional
educational psychologist for the NGO Kiran Village as part of a
consultation unit for children with physical or
mental difficulties focusing on parents'
As the demand became increasingly targeted
towards autism and Down's syndrome, in 2012 Mary
started a discussion with Indian friends on the
prospect of opening a support centre within
Varanasi for this population of children (Kiran
is located about 20 km outside of Banaras). She
wanted to work on early diagnosis of autism
disorder, as it is still quite unheard of in
India, and she wanted to include young children
with Down's Syndrome in her project.
In November 2012, Mary thus opened a small
centre called Child Guidance Clinic five
mornings a week for two hours in a room of the
Ramakrishna Mission Hospital (Luxa, Varanasi).
Although Mary does speak basic Hindi in order to
build a better relationship with children and
parents, an Indian teacher was responsible for
English-Hindi translation. Working with parents
was crucial because most of the time they do not
understand what is going on with their child.
The Child Guidance Clinic soon became too small,
and eventually the need arose for a proper
full-time school along with permanent
educational and therapeutic support. Back in
Geneva in Summer 2014, Mary founded the Swiss
association Taaro ke Bacche which would
financially support the Taaro ke Bacche school
of Varanasi. Taaro ke Bacche means
"children of the stars" in Hindi.
The school was inaugurated on 8th November 2014,
with the support of Yogbodhi Trust.
A professional person has been named in charge
whenever Mary is away from Varanasi.
|Who we are
Marie-Francoise Bisson ("Mary") is a retired
special needs teacher and educational psychologist
from Geneva (Switzerland). She worked in the Office Medico-Pédagogique in
Geneva for 20 years. She is an expert in autism
and has a considerable amount of experience with
Mary travelled to India for the first time in
1991. She loved it so much that since then she
visited the country every year for holidays.
After her retirement in 2009 she decided to
spend 6 months every winter in Varanasi to carry
on working with Indian children, and to raise
awareness with regards to autism in this
traditional city where it is greatly needed.
Mr. Mukesh is a full-time specialised educator.
He received his training from Kiran Village.
Mrs. Kusum is a full-time specialised educator.
Dr. Neela is a clinical psychologist with 4
years' experience at the Thakur Hari Prasad Institute
(Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh) and 4-year
experience from Kiran Village. She comes to
work with us two days a week.
Deepshikha is a full-time specialised educator.
She received her training from Kiran Village She started
working with us in January 2017.
Fanny (Meera) is a Kathak dancer from Geneva.
She has been training with Pt. Ravi Shankar
Mishra for over 18 years and has been living in
Varanasi throughout the school year since 2011.
She teaches children in several schools in the
city and performs on stage throughout Northern
India. When she returns to Switzerland, she runs
workshops in social and outdoor centres. For
more information about her, you can visit her
Fanny joined us in the autumn 2017; she offers
music discovery sessions to our children every
Vio is French. Married to an Indian citizen, she
has been living in India for over 10 years. She
lived in Varanasi from 2008 to 2015, studying
Indian classical violin and Hindi. Today she is
based in Khajuraho in the state of Madhya
Pradesh, where she manages a homestay
and is president of the association Friends
in Khajuraho. She is also a teacher of
English, Hindi and violin. She has been involved
in many associations over the years, and before
moving to India she lived in Scotland, working
as a care worker for people with learning
difficulties including adults with Down's
syndrome and autism.
For our association, she works as Responsible
for Media Communication, which mainly involves
web design, newsletter design and translation.