We had recently introduced Urmi Foundation through a blog post. A place which specializes in helping differently abled children and the wave of change that they are bringing about. The foundation of this NGO is built upon a lot of real-life stories revolving around children with special needs, their parents, the difficulties they face adjusting in this so-called normal world and the battles they face and overcome daily.
This is the 21st century. An era where men and women are apparently given equal rights and liberties in the world. But are we really that socially reformed? Raja Ram Mohan Roy, regarded as Father of the Indian Renaissance, started a socio-religious reform movement in India during the early 19th century. However, even after such revolutions, India is still orthodox. We are still riddled with social evils like dowry, domestic violence, female infanticide and child marriage.
We are about bringing to the readers something different, and hence I have a superhero story for all of you. It’s a story about courage and determination, about strength and hope, about how heroes stand for what they believe in. If I put in a picture of this superhero, you would not believe me.
Meet Rupali; a 17-year-old girl who was forced into child marriage by her parents. Her husband turned out to be unfaithful and shunned her at the first news of her pregnancy. Her in-laws were equally non-supportive and sent her back home to her parents. The toll of such mental abuse and harassment was too much to bear, which led to Rupali being under tremendous stress during her pregnancy. Her health deteriorated due to lack of proper and timely nutrition.
Under such circumstances, Rupali gave birth to a baby boy, Siddharth. Unfortunately, after her giving birth both Rupali and Siddharth suffered from epilepsy. A victim of regular epilepsy attacks, Siddharth gradually started losing the ability to move and started falling back on his developmental curve. From Siddharth ‘s birth, Rupali noticed his poor physical movement and eye contact followed by other prominent development delays as he grew older.
On approaching a doctor, Rupali was informed that her child is developmentally challenged. However, no elaborate information, guidance or means to handle the unmet needs of such children was ever provided.
Observing the ordeal that Rupali and Siddharth were experiencing, their neighbor who knew Urmi Foundation, informed Rupali of their work and suggested that she enroll Siddharth in Urmi ‘s school. Convinced and motivated, Rupali visited their center. Satisfied with the work done at Urmi she enrolled Siddharth with the school. He started attending the center regularly under the attentive eye of his mother.
Rupali ‘s curiosity kept increasing as the days passed. Intrigued, she started gathering information about children with special needs and tried gaining knowledge and learning about special needs children from the teachers that worked at Urmi. Gradually, she decided to enroll herself for a diploma course in educating and caring for special needs children. Her efforts came to fruition. Rupali later completed the course and joined Urmi Foundation as a community teacher.
Where Rupali made such progress, Siddharth was not far behind. His assessment helped chalk out therapy targets for his development, like developing hook, lateral, bilateral and visuomotor coordination. Rupali ‘s newly developed knowledge and skills helped her with regular follow-ups of Siddharth ‘s therapy even at home. Initially, there were behavioral challenges which were hindering the progress. There were health issues that highly affected Siddhartha ‘s movements. Rupali being a sharp observer, created a reinforcement system which encouraged Siddharth to practice therapy for the required time. Their zeal helped them overcome challenges and Siddharth regained his normal routine and regularized attendance at the center. All the therapy material available with Urmi was used at the center and replicated at home for further practice and optimum results. Rupali left no stones unturned in treating Siddharth to manage his condition better.
During all this struggle, troubles still seem to loom on Rupali and her child. Her brother did not approve of her cause and resorted to physical violence and abuse towards her and Siddharth. Nothing could break Rupali. With support and encouragement from her family at Urmi, Rupali mustered the courage to stand against his atrocities and lodged an official complaint with the police against him. The authorities took the necessary action and Rupali, as well as Siddharth, is out of any danger now.
We all have worries, problems, and pain, but nothing surpasses your pain and struggle than to see your own child suffer. It makes you feel helpless, frustrated and even furious at times. I call Rupali a superhero because she transformed these negative feelings into something amazingly positive and decided to change the situation that she was in than to feel sorry for herself and her son.
There are many such Rupali ‘s and Siddharth ‘s who have been given up on by the society and are struggling to find their way. We all could make their journey a little easier by lending our hands. Bouncing back from difficult situations and staying resilient in the face of adversities is what real heroes are made off. It is this journey in which fractured souls are made whole again.
Kudos to Rupali, Siddharth and entire Team Urmi for setting new examples of what superheroes are made of and look like in real life!