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.