[slideshow]Epilepsy week is always a time to raise awareness and celebrate. This year there were two reasons to do so: IEA completed 40 years and SAMMAN our epilepsy support group completed 20.

Epilepsy awareness programs in Mumbai began on the 13th of November with a program organized by the epilepsy team of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, at their hospital in Andheri.

On the 15th November IEA Mumbai Chapter organized a Press Conference at the Press Club Mumbai. Dr. Pravina Shah spoke on Epilepsy Management & Treatment whilst Dr. Urvashi Shah addressed the psychosocial aspects of epilepsy. Carol D’Souza then enumerated what the IEA / Samman has achieved in the last 40 / 20 years. 18 persons from the media (print & TV) attended this event, after which we got coverage in the Indian Express, Maharashtra Times & Sakal newspapers.

On the 16th of November a radio interview with Kavita Shanbhag was aired on Rainbow FM News channel. This is a Marathi channel which has a large rural and urban reach in Maharashtra. And on the 16th and 17th of November we had an awareness drive at Highstreet Phoenix, a large and busy mall in Mumbai city. A lot of people enquired about our activities and were given leaflets and brochures.

The Epilepsy Foundation held awareness campaigns at the two busiest railway stations: Churchgate & Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly VT) on the 17th of November. The same day they also had street plays at different timings at Dadar, Dadar TT, Andheri, Ghatkopar, Borivli and Thane.
Two other support groups had events: ‘Uttejan’ held an all Maharashtra Talent Contest for people with epilepsy and ‘Protsahan’ held an epilepsy awareness program in Dombivli.

The week ended with the E 40-20 (40 years of IEA and 20 years of SAMMAN) celebrations at Hotel Krishna Palace on 19th evening. This program was both informative and entertaining. Dr. Joy Desai spoke on Epilepsy & Teens enumerating the special problems faced by teens with regard to studies, staying up nights, taking up sports etc and suggested ways in which teens are can meet with these challenges. Carol D’Souza presented on IEA Bombay Chapter’s achievements these past 40 years; how after the formation of SAMMAN, having patient volunteers and a place (ECell) we were able to increase our activities manifold and are today able to offer Counselling, Special Education, Yoga & Meditation, Support Group meetings, Medicines at a discount, Sheltered work, Skill training and Rural epilepsy clinics. Dr. Ravin Thatte who is an activist, author and cosmetic surgeon gave us insights on how to refuse to be unhappy. This enlightening and practical talk was a good morale boost for persons with epilepsy, their families and professionals. There were awards and felicitations as well. The ‘Achiever of the Year’ award went to Santosh Tholar and Keyur Vaghela. Santosh in spite of his seizures has adapted to the demands of running a publishing and printing business whereas Keyur recently got his Bachelor of Arts degree overcoming great challenges. Sachin Khot who is married to our own ECell caretaker Sharvari received ‘The Caregiver of the Year’ award for the loving support shown to his wife over the last 3.5 years. Dr. Pravina Shah was felicitated by Samman with a shawl and a specially designed album which photographed her journey from her days at KEM Hospital to current day. Samman also presented her with a collage of photographs which had the words ‘Thank you for being with us’. It was a joyous moment for all of Samman when earlier this year she was given the Social Accomplishment Award. Many of our other supporters were given roses in appreciation. The highlight of the evening was the dance performance by Samman members to popular Bollywood numbers ‘ChamakChalo’ ‘Chance Pe Dance’ ‘Darling’ and ‘Om Shanti Om’, with everyone coming on the dance floor at the end of the last number. A sumptuous buffet dinner ended the perfect evening.