Celebrating Life

Enjoying the Rhythm of Childhood in all its Fullness

The classic rhythm of a ‘dholak’ (a two-sided Indian drum) resounded from inside a newly constructed two-room brick house in a village in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. Inside the house was 13-year-old Raj, whose eyes were filled with joy as his little fingers skilfully moved back and forth tapping on the sides of the dholak. For such ease and precision, one would think Raj trained to play the dholak for years together.

“He broke a lot of buckets and cans by playing drums on them continually for many years. I used to stop him from playing it earlier. Last year, I bought him a real drum, a ‘dholak’, and now encourage him to play music all the more,” says Raajkumari, Raj’s mother, who fondly calls him ‘Sahil’ at home.


Raajkumari spent INR 750 to purchase the dholak for Raj; an amount that she says could have fed their family of six for almost a week. Raajkumari is doing everything to help Raj, who is a child with intellectual disability, to do well in life.

When their firstborn Raj was growing up as a toddler, Raajkumari (33) and her husband, Dharmendra (35) thought their son was simply late to speak, hear and understand. It was only when Raj turned five, that his parents recognized that their son was a child with intellectual disability.


“It was very difficult for us to come to terms with the fact that our son won’t be like other normal children at that time,” says Raajkumari.

When Raj’s parents were only beginning to understand him, a volunteer from World Vision India visited their home, which was a shack at that time, and informed them about sponsorship. Raj then became a sponsored child. Soon, like dawn breaking through night, Raajkumari and Dharmendra began seeing that their son was only specially-abled and was still able to achieve great things in life. This transformation in their thinking occurred once they began attending meetings conducted by World Vision India in their community for parents of children who are specially-abled.

For Raajkumari, the meetings were her source of learning and strength. She says, “I learnt the importance of sending Raj to school irrespective of his reduced learning and grasping capacity. Before he went to school, he would pick up fights. But, ever since he’s going to school, his behaviour has changed. Now he’s almost always in a good mood and doesn’t fight with anyone.” In one of these meetings, Raajkumari learnt that she needed to encourage Raj to play music, which he loved doing, rather than stop him.

The journey of bringing up a child who is specially-abled was not easy for Raj’s parents. After he was born, Raajkumari had three more children – Anuraag (11), Aryan (8) and Aayush (3). When Aryan became a toddler, he couldn’t walk properly. He would begin falling to the ground every time he walked fast or ran. Life only got harder for Raajkumari and Dharmendra. To top it all, it wasn’t easy for a family of six to live in a small shack. Dharmendra also hardly found work on some days and his income was not sufficient to feed their family.

About five years later, today, Raajkumari recollects how a staff from World Vision India visited them during those difficult days and encouraged them to register with the village head for a land in the village as part of a government scheme that provides daily wage labourers the right to own a house. “Initially I was very hesitant about the process, but because World Vision India’s staff kept reminding me about it, I went to the village head. I filled up the form with the help of a volunteer. Finally, last year, we got this land and house that we now live in. We were also supported by World Vision India with goats, which we tend. We sold some of the goats and we used that money to build this house,” says Raajkumari, expressing immense gratitude for the knowledge, training and support she received from World Vision India.


In 2020, just before the pandemic broke out, Raajkumari received green vegetable seeds and training on Kitchen Gardening. Ever since, Raajkumari has grown multiple vegetables and fruits in their beautiful kitchen garden outside their home which she uses to keep her children hale and hearty. “We ate these tasty vegetables during the lockdown,” says an ecstatic Aryan.

During the pandemic, Raj was among the many differently-abled children left hopeless with a break in routine from school and notion of seclusion. For Raj, as his mother describes it, ‘it was a sudden shift from doing something that he loved (going to school) to doing nothing at all’. While we all know how ‘being at home’ caused anxiety and depression among many children during the pandemic, children with disabilities were worse affected with no or limited access to online learning. For children like Raj, online learning was not an option for two reasons – his parent’s couldn’t afford a smartphone and he never liked using the mobile phone.

Thankfully, in Raj’s case, World Vision India constantly counselled his parents over their mobile phone on helping Raj keep himself active and to continue reading and writing until schools reopened. “Education has surely benefitted my son. He can read what the teacher writes on the board and write it well. So I ensured he kept reading and writing even during the pandemic,” says Dharmendra.

Post the second wave of Covid, as soon as the government schools reopened, Raj went back to school. Everyone is observing a progress in Raj’s behaviour and coping capabilities despite the risks to his well-being posed by the pandemic.

“I can only thank World Vision India for my son’s development and well-being, despite the pandemic. Volunteers from World Vision India also trained my children on hygiene and sanitation. Not only that, through World Vision India’s meetings, I learnt the importance of a disability certificate and birth certificate for my son. I recently got them and soon I’ll receive a pension for my son every month,” says Raajkumari.

Besides supporting families with timely Economic Development Assistance, World Vision India conducts capacity building trainings for children with disabilities and their caregivers, aimed at helping parents understand that all children are unique and have different abilities. Like Raj, World Vision India helped over 6000 children with disabilities access their rights in the past year.

Through World Vision India’s interventions and sponsorship programme, Raj is experiencing life in all its fullness. Today, he excels in a skill, loves to sit, study and play with friends at school – all thanks to years of positive parenting and timely help.


One thought on “Enjoying the Rhythm of Childhood in all its Fullness

  1. Mohan Patnam

    Thanks for the story! It is heartbreaking to hear such stories wrecking poor families all over India! It is also important to educate such families about the importance of having no more than two kids. This is for their own overall well being and sound financial future.

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