Jayashree Alte, a resident of the Chembur slums, was expecting another child. Much to her joy, she gave birth to a boy. Ganesh was a happy healthy baby for the first two days of his life. A sudden severe epileptic attack changed everything. His physical development staggered. He is still unable to walk. His mother, Jayashree, was devastated. On one hand, she had to manage her business of making papads to earn a living. However, she wants to help her six-year-old son walk and sit like other boys in their community. But it is easier said than done. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is nearly impossible for Ganesh to use his hands and legs as the rest of us do. He is totally dependent for his day to day activities.
His parents are terrified of sending their fragile boy to school. What if he is not given the attention he needs? He exhibits self-destructive behavior and hurts himself frequently. Will the people in his school know how to take care of him? Ganesh is also unaccustomed to sounds and voices, reacting loudly whenever he hears anything unfamiliar. In their mind, there is no place in school for a boy like Ganesh. Hence, he has never gone to school.
There Are Many Other Children Like Ganesh
Just a few streets away, twelve-year-old Akansha wakes up and cries out, summoning her mother instantly. Akansha barely leaves the house. The road outside is so narrow that her mother cannot hold her body up as she tries to walk. Now that Akansha is much older and heavier, she needs three people to support her as she walks. Her family was asked to consider a wheelchair but when there was barely enough space for one person to walk, how could a wheelchair possibly solve the problem? Going to school is not even a possibility.
What Urmi Foundation Does
Akansha and Ganesh are two of the children Sonalee Shyamsunder discovered while going door to door in the slums of Chembur, Mumbai. After learning that there was negligible improvement in the lives of disabled children in special schools, Sonalee started the Urmi Foundation in order to bring therapy, specialized assignments, parental support, art therapy and special educators to families who were unable to afford these facilities for their disabled children. This team of eight young women are dedicated to travelling through the slums, finding children who require their help and relentlessly convincing their parents to allow them to join school. The Urmi Foundation not only designs courses and a number of interesting activities for those with ADHD and Cerebral Palsy in order to improve the physical independence, academic and social skills of the students but also plays an important part in the community by helping the children transition into normal lives.
What is Project 100
After seeing the tremendous improvement in the special students, Urmi Foundation has decided to go a step further and actively seek out children who have never been to school in order to equip them with practical skills that will allow them to be independent. There have been many hurdles in the path. Most parents refuse. Some even deny having children. After multiple visits to the families of these children, the Urmi Foundation has found one hundred students to work with.
How You Can Help
The Urmi Foundation’s main goal for Project 100 is to aid special needs children ease into the education system by allowing them to develop their motor, cognitive and fine skills through activities, therapy and special child care. Without Project 100, there is a high risk of physical degeneration, increased severity of spasticity and continued social exclusion.
But the Urmi Foundation needs your support to help implement Project 100. Lend a hand to help many children like Ganesh fight against the stigma of disability being shameful and lead a normal life to utilize their full potential through education.Click here to learn how you could help these children.