(Archbishop Felix Machado)
Umed, a home for specially blessed young men and women, is looked after by the diocese of Vasai as a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour. Jesus’ own life was spent to love everyone, particularly those who are downtrodden, heavily burdened and abandoned. One of Jesus’ disciples declared: “He who does not love does not know God for God is love” (1 John 4: 8). Our faith in God should reflect in our daily life, like in a mirror, the image of God’s love. Our love for our neighbour, especially for those who are physically weak, poor and in need of help, should be seen in our concrete actions in favour of them. The Differently Abled brothers and sisters of ours are God’s specially loved children and they are God’s own creation as every one of us. Umed is a diocesan charitable trust in order to make these God’s children feel loved and wanted. At Umed we do everything possible to empower these differently abled brothers and sisters of ours so that they feel intrinsic part of the human family in their God-given dignity. Umed welcomes differently abled men and women from all casts and religious traditions. Many of the volunteers who help in Umed are parents themselves of differently abled, as well as other selfless service-motivated individuals, Religious Sisters and Catholic Priests. I sincerely thank all the benefactors, well-wishers and those associated with Umed and implore God’s blessings on us all”.
Archbishop Felix Machado
(Father Baptist Lopes, Director)
We consider people who are in a wheelchair, those who are deaf and dumb or blind, to be disabled. But, are they? While working with differently abled individuals, I have learnt that there is a great potential in them. Encouragement from us brings out their hidden talents such as singing, dancing, art, elocution and sports, to name a few. In the recently concluded Paralympics, India won several medals, almost as many as they won in the Olympics.
It gives me a great satisfaction while working with these individuals, though it is quite challenging and demanding. I have gained a better understanding of how to improve the lives of those less fortunate than me. They have helped me develop compassion, patience, and a never-say-die attitude towards life. The love and gratitude that I receive from them, has transformed my outlook on life. Every day is a new learning experience.
According to a recent survey conducted, there are more than 800 differently abled individuals in Vasai diocese. Due to the social stigma attached, many of them are not exposed to the society. Such individuals need attention. Our society needs to change its outlook towards them.
The first step towards change is ‘Awareness’. The second step is ‘Acceptance’. – Nathaniel Branden
Once acceptance comes, everything grows with love. A renovated and well established centre ‘Umed’ has been set up. It has opened the world for our differently abled brothers and sisters, in turn enriching the lives of everyone they touch. They can be a part of Umed by participating in the get-togethers, counselling, skills training, outings and parental skills training that we organise. We can work towards this goal with the help of ‘Friends of Umed’, our volunteer organisation. A network can be formed with various other ‘Divyang ’centres.
Our society has a misconception about differently abled individuals that being ‘Divyang’ is a punishment given by God. Because of this belief they have remained isolated from the society. They are also missing out on the facilities and opportunities available to them. They have to depend on physical, moral and financial support from their families. Many parents also worry about the future of their child.
Living with honour is everybody’s right. ‘Divyang’s’ have the right to equality in all areas of our lives, including access to education, employment, and the ability to participate as citizens of our society. It is essential to inculcate a sense of confidence in them so that they can lead a self-dependent and a secured life. Umed is trying its best to change their disability into ability. Here, they get a sense of self-worth since they are able to contribute to society. They do not need our sympathy; they need our empathy and our time. They do not suffer from disability .They live with it and work with it. They only suffer from the ignorance of people. My earnest request to each and every one of you is to help them sail through the turbulent journey of life. I need your moral, financial and social support to carry forward this divine work of Christ. I believe that one day, together we can realise this dream. Hope Floats!!!
Father Baptist Lopes