Our Story

There are over 52 million children in India with developmental disabilities and over 650,000 in Mumbai alone. Out of these, not even a quarter have access to quality care.

The Idea

The idea of Ummeed was born while Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy was working at Children’s Hospital in Boston as a Developmental Pediatrician. The resources available at the hospital and community there brought home to her the paucity of facilities available for children with developmental disabilities in India.

Upon her relocation to India in 1998, she worked with a number of nonprofit organizations as well as Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai, while she reflected on how best to provide the range of specialized services required for children with special needs. She maintains that identifying and treating disabilities in children makes for a healthier society at large in the long run.

On November 5, 2001, with the help of her husband, Ashish Karamchandani, a partner of the Monitor Group, she founded Ummeed with an initial staff of three.

Today Ummeed provides specialized care for most developmental disabilities and has moved into areas of training, research and advocacy. It is now one of the country’s leading NGOs, much respected for its work in the field of children with disabilities.

Our Approach

As an organization with close to 70 professionals, we work in four main areas:

Clinical Services

Supporting children in overcoming their disabilities through direct clinical services and helping families in their journey towards acceptance and empowerment


Training Center

Building a cadre of trained professionals and community workers who can prevent, diagnose, and manage developmental disabilities more effectively


Research

Partnering with national and international organizations to foster research in developmental disabilities


Awareness and Advocacy

Actively participating in international committees, national groups and task forces, as well as advocating for inclusive schools and communities

Ummeed Stories

This is a story about Saad, who has Down syndrome. Saad is now five and a half years old and goes to a special school. But the story begins somewhere else...


What for others are simple tasks, were often huge challenges for Saad. In the two years (2013-2015) that Saad was part of Ummeed’s Early Intervention Center (EIC), we saw him overcome many hurdles. Now he can wear his own glasses, read from books and feed himself. He has graduated from Ummeed’s EIC and goes to a special school. What is more, he now makes his own choices!

This was not always so. Saad’s parents, perhaps overwhelmed by their own challenges, were often silent helpless onlookers in Saad’s developmental journey. Dr. Riddhi Mehta, Developmental Pediatrician, and the Early Intervention team sat with them to discuss their hopes and aspirations for Saad. We broke these up into small steps and implemented them in his daily activities at the EIC.

One step at a time, our efforts bore fruit. We started noticing that Saad was happier. Not just that, his mother had also developed a spring in her step! Saad’s father also became an active participant in his growth.

The cherry on the cake was Saad’s birthday at Ummeed.

It is a tradition at Ummeed’s EIC that on their child’s birthday, instead of bringing sweets or presents, we encourage the parents to devise a gainful activity for all the children. Saad’s mother not only came up with a beautiful activity, but conducted it for seven children all by herself. For a parent who sometimes did not feel empowered enough to look after her own child, this was indeed a turnaround!

This is not only Saad’s success or his family’s success, but Ummeed’s as well, for it validates for us, all that we believe in, and all that we stand for!

Written by Sonam Shah, Sr. Occupational Therapist, Ummeed


“Why do normal people feel that they are ‘full’ and others, like Subhan, are ‘half’ or ‘incomplete’?”


My own faith in Subhan started giving me abundant strength. I no longer wanted to hide myself or my son from the glaring eyes of the world. I took him around with me everywhere like any normal child. We were not sorry or uncomfortable carrying him in public places. I was not embarrassed to seek help from people around. I did not mind telling them that he was a ‘special’ child. I was no more scared of people’s curious looks and awkward questions. As my mind opened up further I could feel a new hope springing in my heart. I felt happy, as I was a ‘Special Mother’.

The special school (EIC) did Subhan a lot of good. He was now much more confident, adored by his teachers and friends. His speech improved and expressions became clearer. His social interactions became praise-worthy.

Looking back at my own life, I feel that the spirit with which we can accept our life gracefully is what matters ultimately, and it is love which nourishes us. Subhan has made me look inwards. His handicap doesn’t disturb me any longer. He and I shall live with it and still be happy. The mental strength he has given to me is endless.

One day, while traveling in a public bus with Subhan, the conductor smilingly gave me the tickets saying “one full, one half”, it made me wonder, was my son really half? An incomplete person? Was I really full? Complete in all respects?

Why do normal people feel that they are ‘full’ and others, like Subhan, are ‘half’ or ‘incomplete’? Subhan’s world is complete in itself, pure and innocent; while our lives are full of deceit, jealousies and ill-feelings. Subhan is complete in himself although a little different from us. How could any person, or I, call him only a half?

The half, incomplete people are we, not him. The day the world sees him the way I do, it will not be a one full or a one half world. It will be one full world - a world full of love, caring and sharing.

Written by Shabana, Subhan’s mother

Click here to watch Shabana tell her story at Ummeed

Impact

children and families supported at Ummeed’s clinic each year
sessions conducted at Ummeed’s clinic to date
participants in Ummeed’s training programs in 2016-2017 alone
training days in 2016-2017
children and families served through Ummeed’s direct clinical services to date
clinical sessions conducted at Ummeed each year