Bhushan's Story

‘’My husband owns a small business of selling handkerchief on the busy streets of Dadar (Mumbai). We live in a small  house in the slum in Mumbai. We are a family of four, Myself my husband my son Bhushan and his younger sister. We are a happy family now. But it was not the same.’’ says Sangeeta Kumbhar.

Everything seemed to be as customary and ecstatic when Sangeeta was pregnant. During the seventh month of pregnancy, Dohale Jevan took place,  (Dohale Jevan means, the pregnant woman’s carving. This tradition in Marathi families is equivalent to a western baby shower. The mother-to-be is dressed from her head to toe in flowers and given all the foods she has been longing for. Friends and family gather to shower her with love and blessings for motherhood.)

It was their first child who was going to experience this beautiful world. As every other proud parents-to-be they too had their share of dreams and expectations. Soon the happiest day of their life arrived and Sangeeta gave birth to a baby boy. Rituals and celebrations followed. The boy was named Bhushan. (Bhushan in Marathi language means Pride) Bhushan was the pride of the family!

The celebration and happiness did not last too long and soon changed into a heart breaking reality. A few months after Bhushan was born Sangeeta and her husband noticed that he could not easily turn from his body from one side to the other. Parenthood was new to them and they had no clue what challenges were awaiting them. Children of Bhushan’s age in the neighbourhood had started crawling but he did not. Soon the couple realized that Bhushan was not a normal child, he was a child with special needs. And suddenly the stigma and shame started to cloud over the pride of the family.

Bhushan's journey with IMCARES

“I never took Bhushan out of the house as he is a child with special needs. The neighbours in the slum where we live also taunted me for giving birth to disabled child, who could not walk on his own, neither could fold his legs and sit. He could not speak clearly and could not control the saliva falling from his mouth. I use to sit with a handkerchief all day long wiping his saliva. He couldn’t even eat on his own  so I had to feed him. Bhushan was completely dependent on me. I was worried for his future. What if something happens to me? How will he survive? Who will take care of him? I would constantly ask myself.” Says Sangeeta.

One day, IMCARES workers visited Bhushan and his parents and encouraged them to bring him to their Day Care Center. After a discussion with her husband they both decided to take Bhushan to the IMCARES Day Care Centre.

The IMCARES DAY CARE CENTER, has been functioning in Mumbai’s Mahim slums for more than twenty-five years and imparts free education to underprivileged children, provides the kids nutritious meal and even place for assisted study, helping them develop to their full potential.

‘’I went to IMCARES DAY CARE CENTER and met their teacher. The children in their Center were normal kid and looked very happy. They were playing, learning, enjoying themselves and having a lot of fun. I was happy seeing this, but Bhushan had never ever interacted with anyone besides his father and me. I was really worried. Would they give my son admission in their Day Care Center? Was the only question on my mind now. I thank IMCARES staff for accepting my son Bhushan with all his challenges.” Says Sangeeta.

When Bhushan first came to the IMCARES DAY CARE CENTER, his mother Sangeeta, used to sit with him in the beginning. He used to sit leaning against the wall in one position and observe the other kids playing and learning. In the beginning it was difficult for him to interact with other kids in the class. He used to quietly sit at one place for hours together gazing at the red coloured slide constantly. Children climbing the stairs and sliding down with fun and laughter, attracted Bhushan. IMCARES Child Care Worker observed this; and taking a chance, she asked Bhushan, if he wanted to try. Excitedly, Bhushan nodded yes. This was the first time Bhushan was interacting with an outsider. Teacher helped him to climb the stairs and also slide him down with careful assistance. Bhushan’s eyes sparkled with joy.

The IMCARES Project ANKOOR: IMCARES social workers visit children suffering from various disabilities/life-threatening illnesses, enquiring about their health, and their problems. Imparting education and counseling parents to handle and care for these valuable children. They also guide them for further therapies, treatments and follow-ups.

The IMCARES Day Care Center teacher has been trained to take care of children like Bhushan. She started helping him walk by holding his hands, to sit folding his legs and also steadily to eat with his own hands. He was encouraged to play block-building games so that he could mobilize his hand movements. He was also trained to control his saliva flow and to wipe it himself. He was encouraged by the IMCARES Child Care Worker to articulate words and sounds. Today, he can use a few words to express himself. He was also encouraged to interact and play with the other children, Now; Bhushan has made few friends in the Day Care Centre.

IMCARES Social Worker’s visit Bhushan’s home on a regular basis. They educate and counsel Sangeeta and her husband on how to take care of Bhushan, teach them how to give Bhushan exercises and massages. They have also chalked out a nutrition plan for Bhushan. Further, IMCARES Project Ankoor will help to connect Bhushan to Physiotherapists.

‘’I am so happy, today my Bhushan can climb the staircase with the help of his knees, he can write and speak few words clearly. His father was very happy when he called him Papa the first time. He even takes care of his younger sister. He is trying to be independent. He is also been admitted in a special school in Dadar. This has all happened because I had IMCARES and their loving and caring staff with me. If NGO’s like IMCARES support families like ours, nothing is impossible. I have a dream to see my Bhushan walk and live a normal life one day…and seeing all these improvements in him I am very sure he will. ’’ Says Sangeeta with confidence.

All this didn’t happened overnight it took a lot and lot of perseverance, commitment and travail from IMCARES DAY CARE CENTER and IMCARES daily visiting Social Worker.

Case Story documented & photographed by: Bhagwati Sagathia.