Since the world’s attention was drawn by the horrific conditions in which children were being kept at the end of Ceauşescu regime in Romania in 1989, many efforts have been made by individuals, charities and international agencies to try and prevent the institutionalization of children. In an article by The Economist (August 2013), it points out that de-institutionalization efforts across the post-Soviet region are achieving results but too slowly for the thousands of children still in State care, many with disabilities.
Media attention consistently shines the spotlight on the children and questions how adults can allow it to happen. However, UAFA’s experience of working with many institutions in Azerbaijan has given us a deep understanding of how an institutional care system dehumanizes child-care and reduces the adults to the role of cleaner, in most cases.
UAFA has been working with two institutions for children with disabilities, since 2001. Teams of trained child development specialists and volunteers work with the children every day to give the children a chance to develop their potential. We run the following activities:
- Rehabilitation sessions, using play, occupational therapy and active learning
- Arts and music activities
- Sports therapy
- Cooking and gardening activities
- Special education classes
Our goal is to introduce Minimum Standards of Care and help the institutions transition towards respite and rehabilitation, as opposed to residential care.