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.