Changemakersaathi पिता: The Father’s day special feature
In the beautiful land of Jammu and Kashmir, a remarkable changemaker named Mr. Umesh Sharma has emerged as a beacon of hope for parents and individuals with disabilities in past two decades.
With a rich experience of 21 years in the field of disability, intellectual and developmental disorders (IDD), Umesh embarked on a journey that would transform the lives of countless people.
Umesh’s journey began in the year 2000 when his own son was diagnosed with autism. The news came as a rude shock, and the word “autism” was unfamiliar to him and his family. However, being a disciple of Shree Shree Ravi Shankar ji, who often preached acceptance of people and situations as they are, Umesh found the strength and motivation to face the challenges ahead.
Supported by his loving family and friends, Umesh realized that the larger society was yet to respond adequately to the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities.
Determined to change this, he established a parent association called the Disabled Care Foundation. The foundation became a platform for intellectual disabilities in the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, the only one of its kind since India’s independence.
Umesh’s vision went beyond just the parent association. Under his guidance and supervision, two District Disability Rehabilitation Centers and a Composite Regional Center were established, providing much-needed support and services to individuals with disabilities in the region. This marked a significant milestone in the journey towards inclusive development.
However, Umesh faced a major challenge in implementing various central laws and schemes related to mental healthcare and rehabilitation. The Mental Healthcare Act and Rehabilitation Council of India Act, along with numerous central government schemes, posed obstacles that needed to be overcome to ensure that individuals with disabilities received their rightful benefits and support.
Ever the learner, Umesh sought knowledge and inspiration from various sources. Now, he shares his wealth of experience with fellow parents, dedicating Sundays to guide them on how to avail the benefits of various schemes such as disability pension, Disability Certificate, UDID Card, Niramaya health scheme, and many more. By empowering parents with information and resources, Umesh empowers the community as a whole.
Umesh’s impact extended beyond Jammu and Kashmir. He became a member of several esteemed organizations, including the Expert Committee for the Advisory Board of Disability in Jammu and Kashmir, the Local Level Committee in District Jammu under the National Trust, the District Management Team in DDRC Jammu, the National Confederation of Parents Organization (Parivar), the Autism Society of India, the Committee to Support Passengers with Disabilities in Airport Jammu, and as an Advisor to Special Olympics Bharat in District Jammu. He is also a life member of the Red Cross Society and has served as an Executive Councillor for NCPO Parivar.
Mr. Umesh Sharma, the Chairman of Disabled Care Foundation, has transformed the landscape of disability support and advocacy in Jammu and Kashmir. Through his unwavering commitment, compassionate leadership, and tireless efforts, he has created a more inclusive and supportive society for individuals with disabilities. His story is an inspiration to all, reminding us of the power of determination, empathy, and the ability to create meaningful change.
Here’s an exclusive interview of Umesh Sharma with Shilpi Mayank Awasthi Founder of specialsaathi.com
Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag.