Veruschka Dias, a dearly beloved sister, had several unique abilities one of them being Autism. She was affectionate, full of life, could pick up a tune in seconds and was an insatiable foodie especially when it came to her favourite dishes. Growing up, she went to different special schools in Mumbai where under the training of some truly dedicated occupational therapists, special educators and speech therapists, we were able to hone her abilities. However, after the age of 16, owing to the lack of institutional facilities for individuals like her, the responsibility to keep her engaged and to improve her skills fell squarely on her family. She was lovingly looked after and cared for by her sister and parents who ensured that she always got the best. Sadly, Veruschka passed away in May 2015 at the age of 26.
Leela Ammachy (Mariamma Thomas), a dearly beloved aunt, uniquely abled with Down syndrome, loved kids, could talk nineteen to the dozen and was fascinated by books. She was a very sociable, endearing and loving person. Born and brought up in Kerala, at a time when there was little or no information about her condition, her parents – both medical professionals, ensured that she was well cared for and nurtured to be as independent as possible, within the confines of her home. After their passing, she was lovingly looked after and cared for by her brother and his family until her demise in September 2010 at the age of 68.
It was around a year ago that Tatyana, a neurobiologist and Christina, a financial professional set out with an idea and a purpose – to help individuals with developmental disabilities. Their personal experiences of caring for a sister with Autism and an aunt with Down syndrome respectively not only affirmed their friendship but also evoked in them a deep-seated responsibility to help other individuals with developmental disabilities. As a family missing the presence of Veruschka in their lives and with the pillar of support in Christina, the idea of the Foundation took birth.