Ramadan Child Rehabilitation Fund

Fund a child’s rehabilitation at our Chingari clinic and help transform their life this Ramadan. Thanks to our physiotherapists, speech therapists, and special educators, every year more children at Chingari learn to sit, walk, or speak, and face the world’s challenges.

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Ramadan Child Rehabilitation Fund

Fund a child’s rehabilitation at our Chingari clinic and help transform their life this Ramadan. Thanks to our physiotherapists, speech therapists, and special educators, every year more children at Chingari learn to sit, walk, or speak, and face the world’s challenges.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal is a UK charity that cares for survivors of the world's worst industrial disaster, the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. We provide free treatment for families poisoned by gas or by toxic chemicals still leaking into water sources in the city, including a third generation of damaged children. These are their stories:

Sudha’s Story

Sudha is 10 years old and has cerebral palsy. Both of her parents are survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. Studies have shown rates of cerebral palsy in the gas-affected areas of Bhopal are many times higher than elsewhere in the city, and Sudha’s condition is likely due to her parent’s exposure to heavy metals in the methyl isocyanate gas that burned their eyes and choked their lungs all those years ago. Sudha suffers from extreme muscle weakness, frequent involuntary movement in her limbs, and a scissoring pattern of the legs that prevented her learning to stand or walk. By the time she reached 6 years old she was still bedridden. Her mother Yashoda, desperate for help, brought her to the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre for assessment. Chingari’s team of physiotherapists began working daily with Sudha, following a treatment plan designed to slowly strengthen her muscles and reduce involuntary movements. This would be a slow process due to the seriousness of her condition, but after several years of incredible hard work from Sudha, the day came when she was finally able to stand, beaming happily as she clung to Yashoda’s arm. Sudha has now been attending Chingari for nearly 5 years. Today, the involuntary movements in her arms and legs have become less frequent, and she is steadily making progress towards walking. After spending years of her childhood unable to interact with other children, Sudha loves spending time at Chingarii playing with her friends, as well as the clinic’s collection of toys.

Usama’s Story

Usama is 2 years old and has congenital Talipes Equinovarus (TEV), otherwise known as Clubfoot. The condition affects both of his lower legs and feet, giving him tight Achilles tendons and making his feet point down and turn inward from the heels. Usama’s father is a survivor of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, and he and Usama’s mother were aware that something was wrong as soon as little Usama was born and they saw his twisted feet. As newborn’s feet are mostly cartilage, they were told that the sooner they started treatment for Usama’s condition the more successful the results would be. With surgery not an option and no free regular treatment available at the local Government hospitals, they brought Usama to the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre for assessment at only 10 months old. The physiotherapists at Chingari recognised that if Usama was ever to learn to sit, stand, or walk independently, he would require weekly or even daily care to straighten and strengthen his feet. They created casts for Usama, designed to hold the lower leg and foot and slowly stretch the tissues to move the foot into the correct position. Over time, he has transitioned into wearing special sandals designed to brace the lower leg and with a bar that allows him to rotate his feet outward from their usual inward resting position. This allows the feet to rest in the correct position as the bone continues to grow. The results of the treatment so far have been remarkable: now just days away from his 2nd birthday, Usama is able to sit and is learning to walk independently. Usama will require continued weekly treatment to manage the condition until he is at least 4-5 years old, and we are excited to see him continue his progress in our care. Outside Chingari, Usama enjoys being outdoors and playing in the park. He also loves cats and will happily watch them for hours at a time.

Bhumi’s Story

Bhumi is 4 years old and has cerebral palsy, as well as bilateral congenital dislocation of the hips. Her paternal grandfather is a survivor of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, and her family still lives in one of the communities close to the abandoned Union Carbide factory site. Due to her condition, Bhumi has missed a number of important developmental milestones, and by the time she reached 3 years old she still could not sit, stand, or walk. Seeking help, her parents brought her to the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre for assessment. As both her parents work, Bhumi’s grandmother Shobha brings her into the clinic for her daily treatment. Since beginning physiotherapy, Bhumi’s neck muscles have strengthened, and she can now hold her head straight. She can now also sit independently and move from kneeling to a sitting position thanks to gaining greater mobility in her knees. Bhumi also attends special education classes at Chingari, where she is learning to read, write, and do basic mathematics. She enjoys attending Chingari to learn and play alongside all the other children. Bhumi’s favourite person is her grandmother Shobha (pictured with Bhumi), and she gets excited whenever she sees her. Bhumi loves the lunches at Chingari and enjoys all kinds of food as long as it’s not too spicy.

Suboor’s Story

Suboor is 8 years old and has Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. It is the most severe form of Cerebral Palsy, affecting all four limbs, the torso, and the neck, and characterised by frequent involuntary movement of the limbs. Suboor’s father has health problems of his own, caused by inhaling toxic methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide factory on the night of December 2nd, 1984. Nearly 3 decades later, his experiences of that night would again return to haunt him on the day his son was born. As his wife Kherunnissa cradled the infant Suboor in her arms, they saw that their child’s limbs were twisted in an unusual way. As the months past Suboor’s neck remained too weak to support the weight of his head, and when he reached one year old Kherunnissa made the decision to bring him to the Chingari clinic for help. The physiotherapists at Chingari are accustomed to working with children with all forms of Cerebral Palsy, and create targeted treatment programs for each child. Their priority with Suboor was to help him strengthen his neck muscles. With a daily course of exercises, after a period of months Suboor was able to hold his neck and keep his head straight. Next, they began work with Suboor to help him better control his limbs and reduce involuntary movement. Over the course of seven years, Suboor has achieved an independent high sitting position, is able to squat with only minimal support, and significantly reduced movement in his arms has allowed him better control over his arms and hands. Due to the quadriplegic nature of his condition, it is unlikely he will never learn to walk independently, but the hope is that with continued therapy he will continue to improve his mobility and hand function. Suboor loves attending Chingari with his mother Kherunnissa and seeing all the other children. He particularly enjoys watching when they play cricket and football.

Tuba’s Story

Tuba is 2 years old and has Down’s Syndrome. The condition is usually due to the presence of an additional copy of the chromosome trisomy 21, something that is thought to happen by chance. However, as the condition is genetic some recent studies have suggested that exposure to heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury may affect the probability of having a child with Down’s Syndrome. Tuba’s maternal grandmother is a survivor of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, so her mother Gulnaz was already aware that there could be complications with her pregnancy. As Down’s syndrome is diagnosable at birth, Gulnaz immediately began seeking support for Tuba and brought her in to Chingari for assessment in September last year. As developmental delay is typical in children with Down’s Syndrome, Chingari’s team of physiotherapists were eager to begin working with Tuba at a young age and help her more easily and comfortably achieve important developmental milestones. Tuba suffers from muscle weakness in her limbs, which has delayed her ability to learn to squat, stand, and walk. After 6 months of sustained treatment, Tuba is now able to squat independently, stand unaided for increasingly longer periods, and take at least a few steps. With the continued help of Chingari’s physiotherapists, as well as occupational therapy and special education, Tuba should be able to achieve all her essential physical and educational milestones and more easily adjust to an independent life. Tuba loves attending Chingari and playing with the other children. She has little interest in toys but always wants to join in with games and have fun with her friends. Her favourite lunch at Chingari is chicken, and her favourite treat is ice cream.

Rumaisa’s Story

Rumaisa is 3 years old and suffers from a dislocated hip and a history of meningitis which has severely delayed her development. Her grandfather is a survivor of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, and her father Rashid grew up in the same neighbourhood where the family still live, playing in the ever-present skeletal shadow of the abandoned Union Carbide factory. It wasn’t until after Rumaisa was born Rashid learned that their drinking water had become contaminated with those same chemicals his father breathed in all those years ago: that a second, silent, but no less dangerous disaster was now affecting Rumaisa and a third generation of their family. By the time she was two years old Rumaisa had suffered multiple bouts of meningitis, weakening her back and causing muscle tightness in her legs that prevented her from crawling or learning to sit, stand, or walk. In October 2021, Rashid brought Rumaisa to Chingari to begin treatment. Within months of starting physiotherapy Rumaisa had learned to crawl. More than a year and a half later, daily targeted exercises designed to ease the muscle tightness in her legs have helped her learn to sit cross-legged, kneel, and stand with only light support. She has begun learning to walk with the help of a rollator (a walker with wheels). Rumaisa has recently started attending special education classes at Chingari where she is learning to read and write the alphabet, as well as practice her drawing. Whether it’s at home or being carried around Chingari by Rashid, Rumaisa adores her father and always wants to spend time with him. Her favourite treat is Cadbury’s milk chocolate.

Sakina’s Story

Sakina is 3 years old and suffers from left-side hemiparesis (muscle weakness on the left side of her body). Her maternal grandmother is a survivor of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, so her mother Subhana grew up hearing stories of the terror of that night. By the time Sakina was 18 months old and began to miss important development milestones, including the ability to sit or stand, Subhana knew her condition may be related to her mother’s gas exposure and brought Sakina to Chingari to consult our team of physiotherapists. Subhana brings Sakina to Chingari every weekday, cradling her lovingly in her arms as she sits and talks with the other mothers between treatment sessions. Due to her young age and her muscles still developing, the physiotherapists work carefully with Sakina, going through a series of exercises designed to help her better control her weak left hand, as well as both of her legs. Progress has been slow but is yielding positive results. Over the months Sakina has learned to both sit and stand independently and can now walk and climb stairs as long as she has a hand for support. Through working with Chingari’s resident occupational therapist, she is also better able to perform simple movements and tasks with her left hand. Sakina is one of a group of younger children at Chingari born just before or during the pandemic, making the clinic a very important social space where they can start to learn and play with other children. After her treatment, Sakina is always excited to see her father in the evenings and loves going on trips with him on the back of his motorbike.

Lakshya’s Story

Lakshya is 9 years old and has Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. The condition effects the peripheral nerves that control muscles and relay sensory information, such as touch, from the limbs and other body parts to the brain. For Lakysha this has caused weakness in his limbs and limits his ability to control his body. The condition may be related to his father’s exposure to toxic chemicals on the night of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak, which contained heavy metals capable of causing genetic damage. By the time Lakshya was 7 years old he still could not sit straight or stand without assistance. His mother Niketa, desperate to find treatment that could help him manage his condition, brought him to Chingari. For the past two years, the physiotherapists at Chingari have worked daily with Lakshya. With the help of targeted exercises designed to strengthen his muscles he has developed better trunk control, allowing him to sit straight and reducing his discomfort. His ability to stand has also improved, and he can manage to walk with assistance. Lakysha also receives occupational therapy at the centre, helping him to practice specific targeted movements and better perform everyday tasks. Outside the clinic, Lakshya loves developing his IT skills and creating PowerPoint presentations. His dream is to one day become a software engineer and study at one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, the most prestigious technical universities in the country.

Mariyam’s Story

Mariyam is four years old and has cerebral palsy. Her father was himself only a child on that fateful night in 1984 when deadly gasses leaked from the Union Carbide factory and blew across the city of Bhopal. His own father grasped him tight, attempting in vain to shield him from the toxic vapours. He survived, growing up in a changed world, and eventually met the love of his life, Kishwar. Mariyam was born in January 2019, but as the months past the couple realised her neck muscles were not developing sufficiently to support the wight of her head. By the time she was two and half years old, she still struggled to hold her head straight and could not yet sit, stand, or walk. Learning that Mariyam’s condition could be a result of her father’s gas exposure, the couple sought help and learned of the Chingari clinic. As soon as the final Covid-19 lockdown had past and Chingari re-opened, they brought her in for assessment. Chingari’s team of physiotherapists prescribed a targeted course of treatment for Mariyam, with exercises designed to strengthen her neck and core muscles. With their help, in the last 18 months she has significantly increased her neck control and is now able to sit independently. Regular daily squatting and kneeling exercises have improved the strength of her leg muscles, and as a result her ability to kneel and stand have also improved. The hope is that, with continued treatment, her mobility will also improve and she may one day be able to walk unaided. Chingari has also provided a safe social environment for Mariyam where she can learn and interact with other children, and she loves playing games with the other kids. She also enjoys the food at lunchtime - desserts and other sweet foods are her favourite.

Suraj’s Story

Suraj was born beside a lake full of toxic chemical waste. It was some time after Suraj’s birth that his mother Ramsiya learned that water from this lake had been mixing with the discoloured groundwater she had been drinking for years. When Ramsiya brought Suraj to our doctors they noted the milestones he had already missed. At one year he hadn’t sat up or recognised his mother. By three, no response to speech. Suraj was four by the time he was belatedly weaned—the same year that chloroform, mercury, lead, pesticides, and dichloromethanes were found in the milk of mothers living by the factory. Suraj reached adulthood without ever having caught a ball, sung a song or climbed a tree. At 18, Suraj had not run or jumped, had never stood up unaided, hadn’t once walked a single step, or even uttered one word. Then, against all odds, against every expectation, something miraculous happened. Suraj was referred to the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre. Three painstaking months of targeted therapy, five days per week, enabled Suraj to gain some neck control. Next came three months dedicated to strengthening his torso. A month after, Suraj sat without support for the first time. Now began motion therapy work on the lower limbs. After months of unflinching effort, Suraj was able to stand. Balance and coordination work came next. At 19 years of age, Suraj took his first unaided footsteps. 116 other Chingari kids had walked before Suraj, but none so impossibly. Weeks later, and for the first time in his life, Suraj spoke his mother’s name.

£7

Funds a child’s education for one month.

£10

Funds a child’s speech therapy for one month.

£17

Funds a child’s physiotherapy for one month.

£56

Funds a child's treatment, transport and food for a month.

£680

Funds a child’s treatment, transport and food for one year.

£15,000

Funds the whole Chingari clinic for one month.

Disclaimer: Before you donate, please note that the child rehabilitation fund is not a sponsorship program. By donating you are supporting the care of a child or children at Chingari, but you will not be linked with a specific child. We will provide updates on the progress of all the children’s treatment to our donors throughout their time in our care.

The Cause: Deadly Gas and Poisoned Water

Zoya’s grandmother Asha gently cradles her face and speaks softly to calm her, though she knows Zoya cannot answer. Zoya is 15 years old, but she has never uttered a word. Her hands hang limply from her wrists, a legacy from that night in 1984 when her father Farukh, himself only 15 at the time, panicked and ran blindly from Asha’s side into a darkness filled with deadly gas.

The gas cloud came from a leak at the Union Carbide factory, which made chemicals to kill insects, and drifted across the city of Bhopal. No alarm was sounded, no warning came. By morning thousands were dead, and hundreds of thousands maimed. By some miracle Farukh survived, but he would not live to see his daughter reach the same age.

Union Carbide’s industrial gas disaster in Bhopal, India, is known as the world’s worst. But it didn’t just happen in 1984. It began.

Deadly poisons crossed the lungs of those who breathed the gas and were ferried through the blood, where they broke down, causing damage to organs, to immune, nervous and reproductive systems, to cells and to genes. In the 37 years since, thousands of others like Farukh have succumbed to their injuries.

Tens of thousands more were for decades forced to drink water contaminated with toxic chemicals from the abandoned factory site — chemicals known to damage genes, or impact a developing foetus — which continue to seep steadily into the earth, poisoning the wells and pumps of those living in surrounding neighbourhoods.

And so today in Bhopal, damaged children are being born in such numbers that there is no forseeable end to Carbide’s disaster.

On the day Farukh died, Zoya was three years old but still could not speak or walk. For years, Asha and her husband Mansoor cared for Zoya: washing her, dressing her, helping her to the bathroom.

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It was not until Zoya was 6 that they learned of the Chingari Rehabilitation Centre. With the help of physio and speech therapy, Zoya has begun walking, comprehending, and communicating her needs with signs.

At Chingari, we care for hundreds of children like Zoya, whose parents and grandparents were exposed to the gas, or had unknowingly been drinking water filled with toxic waste. Denied official support or compensation, they have nowhere to turn but to us.

The Solution: The Chingari Rehabilitation Centre

The Chingari Rehabilitation Centre was founded in 2006 by Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla, both gas survivors themselves. The two women campaigned on behalf of the survivors for years and have never given up the fight for true compensation and justice. The courage and tenacity they showed in their struggle won them the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2004, and they used every penny to open Chingari two years later.

Chingari now supports 229 disabled children every day, providing therapies and special education, as well as lunch and transport to and from the centre. But there are a further 1000 registered children in the area who would benefit if resources allowed. The child rehabilitation fund aims to support continued treatment and education and provide a community space to physically and psychologically disabled children and young adults born into families affected by the gas and water poisoning.

When Chingari proudly marked their 10th anniversary in 2016, the founders reflected upon their incredible progress:

We started Chingari in a single room with 15 disabled children and limited resources' said Rashida and Champa. 'The only thing we had at that point was the passion to improve the lives of congenitally disabled children born into families affected by the gas tragedy and subsequent water contamination.

Over the years Chingari has continued to grow, and we have achieved things we would never have believed were possible back then. Almost all the children come from impoverished backgrounds and have family members with long-term health conditions, situations which often compound their struggles.

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With a donation of £680, your sadaqah will fund one child’s annual treatment including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, and sports activities.

Your donation provides children who visit the centre with a space in which they are supported, stimulated, and encouraged, as well as being able to play normally with other children, an experience they do not often encounter at home and in their neighbourhoods. Please consider supporting us and help these children have a better future.

The Blessed Month of Ramadan

Why is The Bhopal Medical Appeal fundraising and raising awareness of the gas disaster and water poisoning with a faith-based campaign?

At The Bhopal Medical Appeal we acknowledge that the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is an extremely important time for the Islamic faith community across the world.

The month of Ramadan is synonymous with charitable giving, and we wish to highlight the incredible efforts and resilience of our registered children, their families, and the staff at Chingari.

Your sadaqah gift this Ramadan will help transform the lives of the children of Bhopal by providing them with long-term care, support and a place in a loving community.

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