With the quality services that Ummeed provides, it is no surprise then to find many of its children living close to regular lives. Of course, this change is seen after many years and only in the cases of those children who follow the treatment seriously – by attending the sessions regularly and implementing the same at home. Because that’s the premise of Ummeed’s model – that professionals are only part of the story and it’s the families/parents who play a more influencing role in their child’s development.
Ummeed’s emphasis on doing what’s right for the children they serve, above all else, prevented me from meeting many of the children who came in for therapy the days I was day. Given the special condition of the children, I totally understand and respect this policy. However, I did get to meet a boy named Sanket Gala and I am really grateful for the same. Sanket has Muscular Dystrophy, which is a disease of the muscles. It is degenerative disease, which means that with time, Sanket will grow progressively weaker. His physical condition is distinctly apparent. But what isn’t apparent at first glance is his indomitable spirit.
Smiling, happy and positive do not do justice to describe Sanket. He is very much aware of his condition and realises that his days are numbered. But he has accepted his destiny and infact makes the most of every day. Truly commendable for a boy of 14, wouldn’t you agree? His days are packed – with school, tuitions, sessions at Ummeed, play time at friends’ houses and his favorite hobby – watching Hindi films. He’s also a big cricket fan. One of his best days being the day he met Sachin Tendulkar – thanks to Ummeed’s tieup with the Mumbai Indians. Infact the day we met, he was eager to get home to catch the India-England (if I remember right) match.
What also stood out in my meeting with him was how thankful he was. Without my asking, he mentioned how pretty much everybody around him goes out of their way to help him – from his parents, to neighbours, to friends at school. His school does not have a lift and his classroom is on the first floor – but everyday, there are enough people to help carry him (and his wheelchair) up to the first floor.
Not Ummeed nor anybody else can reverse Sanket’s condition. Giving him a memorable childhood and the best possible treatment is the best that can be done – and it was truly heart-warming to see this happening!