SFS is a place where everyone is accepted, Loved and Respected

SFS or ‘Special Families Support’ Group was formed so that families with children with special needs can get connected with other families in similar situations to share their hopes, strengths and challenges.

Our group focuses on coping strategies for the entire family especially fathers and siblings, who share the responsibility of bringing up a child with special needs. We even have regular visits from concerned grandparents who are also looking for emotional support.

What we do

SFS holds several public events especially during the Dubai Shopping Festival and the Dubai Summer Surprises each year. We organise fashion shows, dance performances, parties and many other fun events, to integrate families with or without individuals with special needs. SFS runs a structured volunteer program for volunteers ranging from 6 to 60 year olds. Integrating families with and without individuals with special needs brings about a larger understanding in society. Both families stand to gain and learn so much. Being a part of this group encourages all of us to enjoy the simple pleasures of life that sometimes get taken for granted. Just watching children with special needs play harmoniously with other children makes you realise how unconditional the love of a child is.

What we want

An important task of SFS has been to spread awareness among the different sections of the society, about the needs of our families. There is a need to educate society about the various syndromes and disabilities and how to deal with a situation when they are confronted with such a child in public. The only thing that our children and their families need from society is acceptance, love and respect. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join our family and be a part of a beautiful world. Here at SFS we do ensure one thing for sure, that everyone goes home with a smile on their face, the parents go home realizing that they are not alone, the volunteers go home feeling fulfilled as they have done something meaningful and the children go home feeling happy and satisfied, just being accepted for who they are. They deserve the best and that’s exactly what we give them!

How it all started

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SFS was born out of frustration and desperation… it’s amazing how far we have come since.

Let me start waaaaay back in the day.

Zeheer and I met in our teens, got married in 1988. Jenai, our beautiful daughter was born in 1989 and towards the end of 1996 we decided to make the big move from Bombay to Dubai. Everything seemed alien to us but we knew that we could take on anything because we had each other and to top things off, I was pregnant. My precious baby, Zara was born on May 5th 1997. We were like every other family… normal (I guess). But we couldn’t foresee the changes that were about to happen.

Jenai was over the moon as we had been going through the pregnancy together. Every step of “our” pregnancy was thrilling – from the sonograms to the multiple visits to the doctors. She was most excited that Zara brought her a Barbie all the way from Heaven… the bond was made forever.

When Zara was 4 months old, she received her DPT vaccine (like most other 4 month old babies) and our nightmare began. That night, Zara got her first seizure… it was the scariest moment of our lives, as we didn’t know what was happening to our sweet baby.

We grieved as a family – we went through all 5 steps: guilt, denial, anger, self-pity, why me? All of us families with children with special needs are victims of this downward spiral as it is so unexpected. I like to think of it as preparing for a trip to the Bahamas (having a normal baby), where it is warm and sunny and then suddenly being re-routed to Antarctica – where it is brutally cold and harsh. But you know what, we eventually figure out how to survive and be happy. That’s the beauty of acceptance.

Together, us families with children with special needs have tolerated scorn in supermarkets, inane suggestions and home remedies from well meaning strangers. We have tolerated mothers without children with special needs complaining about chicken pox and ear infections. But we, we keep our faith always, we never stop believing… our love for our special children and our belief in all that they will achieve knows no bounds.

Back to the story…

So we were in a new country with new friends and didn’t know anyone who could truly understand what we were going through. Zara’s seizures started happening more frequently and I just needed to talk with other families in the same situation.

I searched all over the “World Wide Web” (that’s 90s slang for the internet) for some support forum or group in the UAE but was left stranded… But then it dawned on me, if I can’t find what I need I should go out and get what I need.

So out of pure love for my child and the willingness to understand and cope with her condition, the SFS group was born… with 6 families in my living room.

Today SFS has grown from a small nuclear family to a large extended family in over 5 different countries and continues to grow. It truly is so amazing that Zara, without saying a word has inspired such change, support and encouragement for so many families with children with special needs. Like I always say… everything that is meant to be, will work out perfectly.

Want to pay back to society? We’d love to hear from you! Contact us