|UAFA’s work at Saray Institution|
UAFA’s work at Saray Institution
One of the main goals of UAFA is to de-institutionalise the child welfare system in Azerbaijan. It is being achieved by programmes such as family re-unification and gate-keeping aimed at reducing the number of children in institutions. However, it is a lengthy process and in the meantime, UAFA is improving the situation of children living in institutions.
UAFA has been working in Saray Institution since 2001. There are approximately 150 children at Saray, majority of them with physical disabilities. Before UAFA began their work at Saray, those children were perceived as sick and therefore requiring hospital-type treatment. Most of them were kept in beds and not developing their abilities. Many of them were showing signs of institutionalisation, such as banging their heads on walls, swallowing their hands etc.
Over the last ten years, UAFA has retrained rehabilitation staff, social workers and case managers. There is UAFA’s Centre at Saray Institution and a team of five people continuously supporting the employees of the institution by mentoring, planning rehabilitation, administrative work and management. UAFA has set new standards for institutions, not only in terms of basic health and hygiene levels, but also in terms of child development.
Currently, the conditions at the institution are satisfactory. The building was renovated in December 2010 thanks to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Children are provided with relevant support. There are designated arts, music and other rehabilitation rooms where children can develop their skills. Still, an institution cannot offer a child the same support that a loving family could.
Saray Day-Care Centre
In February 2011, UAFA, with the support of the State, the International Women’s Club and the Irish Society of Azerbaijan, has set up a Day-Care Centre for disabled children from the local area. The Centre is located at Saray Institution and is available to children aged 5-15. It offers individual and group therapy sessions, arts therapy, special needs education and parent support. Currently, there are 8 children attending the centre. It is planned to expand according to demand and available funding. It is aimed at prevention of institutionalisation of children or their isolation at home. Day-care Centres help to keep families together by allowing parents to remain in employment and to take care of their children. It is a great place for children to make friends!