Umang is a registered home for special needs adults. Umang is a one-of-a-kind care-farm for the differently-abled children who grew up in Bal Anand. The vision of Umang is a new hope to provide a permanent place of purpose and dignity in an inclusive society. As we say, Umang is a continuation of Bal Anand- a home beyond a home.
Many people have asked the question, “Why Umang?”
Umang came about as a result of a need that was felt very deeply. As children turned to adults in the eyes of the law, they could no longer live at Bal Anand. Even though they were adults in the eyes of the law, in reality, they needed lifelong care and support in their daily lives for a variety of disabilities, both mental and physical. Therefore, a new venue was sought to house them. When everything else failed, it was decided that an ideal solution would be a care-farm supporting various activities allowing the soon-to-be residents a safe and permanent place to live, but also a place to work and gain self-sufficiency, self-confidence, and self-love.
A place where the sky was the limit and emotional, spiritual and physical needs were nurtured. A place where dignity and human worth was upheld and self-esteem was enhanced by living productive and satisfying lives.
Thus, the hunt began for such a place. After two years of searching, a beautiful 6.5 acre plot of land with kokum, mango, and guava trees to mention some, became available for sale. It was perfect because it was close to a small, bustling town, Karjat, and only 70 kms from Chembur, Mumbai, the location of Bal Anand.
Project Umang was launched on 22 February, 2009 with one existing but refurbished building- the main cottage that functioned as a reception area, kitchen, dining area, recreation area, sleeping quarters and office. The goal was to build a complex for 50 or so residents who grew up at Bal Anand. There were 30 already and the number was growing. We called it Project Umang- a new hope.
In a year’s time two more buildings were ready; a residential building we named Anmol, meaning incomparable, constructed for 20 persons to be disability-friendly with anti-skid tiles, wide openings, and ramps for as much independent movement as possible; and Akruti meaning creative, a vocational training centre where the soon-to-be residents would work.
We went live on 28 March 2010, with an inauguration with trustees, funders, advisers, donors, wellwishers, and friends. Umang officially opened its gates with 8 residents and three buildings- In the subsequent years, Umang has grown from strength to strength. We now have 17 residents, and 7 function-specific buildings like the new dining and kitchen block, vocational training centre, volunteer’s house, community outreach building, medical centre, residents’ cottage and manager’s cottage.
At Umang, we have 5 main areas of work. First and foremost, the residents and their comfort and happiness are our main priority. We also have organic farming, vocational training and workshops, civil works and site maintenance and management, and community outreach and advocacy.
The residents partake in activities according to their preference and potential. Some are involved in gardening and agriculture, some in cleaning and clearing, some in food preparation in the kitchen, some in making handicrafts and jewellery. Hard work is balanced with fun and relaxation. We celebrate all birthdays and festivals in grand Umang style!
With over 2 acres of organic farming and plenty of therapy animals like cows, chickens, cats and dogs who are part of the Umang family, our aim is to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining while empowering ourselves and those around us to succeed.
We have been fortunate to have amazing partners along the way who share our vision of a life of dignity for special needs individuals. Our oldest partner in this quest has been the Stichting Welzijn Kinderen van Bal Anand en Umang which was established in the Netherlands in June 2006 to realise the unique dream of Project Umang by raising funds, sending professional help in the form of volunteers, students and teachers, and creating awareness for the special needs children of Bal Anand and Umang.
All the members had a personal connection with Bal Anand either as adoptive parents of children from Bal Anand or as volunteers, donors, and well-wishers. One of the founding members, Bas van Ham, former Honorary Treasurer of the Stichting Welzijn Kinderen van Bal Anand en Umang, had been associated with Ms Sulochana Kalro and Worldchildren Welfare Trust India since 1986.
Today, the Stichting continues to be a valuable partner and we are grateful for the love and support they have showered on the residents over the years.
If you would like to know more about them, you can visit their website at www.stichtingbalanand.nl .They have been with us every step of the way and you can too. Be a part of our journey as we bloom and grow.
CONCEPT OF UMANG
- To provide the special young adults who are no different but just differently-abled a permanent, secure home in a loving and nurturing environment in which their physical and emotional needs are cared for.
- To respect the individual dignity and human worth, to enhance their self esteem, and to empower them to live productive and satisfying lives as included members of society.
- To be a model home for places housing individuals with special needs anywhere in India or the rest of the world.
- Umang is a novel one-of-its-kind project: a sustainable, effective, and scalable model that will be the permanent home for orphaned special needs individuals of Bal Anand entering adulthood.
- With Umang, we have the lead in innovating such a model for India by leveraging our decades of experience in working with special needs individuals and knowledge we have acquired from several international institutions.
- It is our aim to be able to share this model and all our knowledge with other institutions facing similar issues and bodies keen to support the cause of permanent residential homes for individuals who are differently-abled and/or have special needs.