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Kalinovka living quarters, newly renovated in 2008
Help for Kalinovka from the government
Following the public outcry over our Happy Child reports, concerning the state of affairs in Kalinovka government support for this special-needs institution improved significantly. In November the bulk of the renovation of the two-storied building for bedfast children was completed (the Jacob Dick estate barn). The building is now equipped with two wheelchair ramps. The campus of the children’s home also appears to be much better kept. The condition of the cemetery has improved and many graves have been marked with crosses. Thus, it is evident that authorities reacted to the material on our website describing conditions in Kalinovka, beginning with the report on January 30, 2008. Pampers for bedfast children are in much greater supply. There is some evidence that because of the visit of Nina Karpacheva, an authorized representative for human rights, no more children have been sent to Kalinovka from the infants’ home for nearly a year. The question of where those children are being sent, however, does remain. More than ten residents above the age of 18 have been sent from Kalinovka to a psycho-neurological institution for adults. As a result, the number of inhabitants in the children’s home has decreased from 150 to 134. There are also reports that in the near future girls above the age of 18 will be moved from Kalinovka to the government facility in the village of Kirovo.
Thanks to contributions from Holland, a summer pavilion for children will soon be constructed on this spot
Support from private contributors
Besides government funding, people from many corners of Ukraine have called in order to find out how they can help the Chernigovka children’s home (Kalinovka). Thus, thanks to the donations of Olga from Yalta, the Kiev business “Ukrpromsoyuz” and other supporters, the fund “Happy Child” was able to install four air conditioners in the beginning of September 2008. During the summer the temperature in some rooms was simply unbearable. The air conditioners proved to be very useful at the end of November, as the heating for the children’s home suffered a breakdown. The air conditioners also function as heaters and provided a stable temperature in their rooms until heating was restored throughout the institution.
An air conditioner in the boys’ classroom allows for more comfortable use of the room in the summer
One of the four air conditioners, also functional as a heater, was installed in the room for bedfast children
This cart was purchased thanks to donations from readers of this website and allows for the conveyance of bedfast children
In November, at the cost of 3000 euros, several rooms were furnished with soft, developmental blocks for the children to play with. This equipment was obtained with the support of the Dutch charity HOMICO ontwikkelingshulp. The dry pool and the many other bright, soft blocks (pyramids, cylinders, mats, tunnels) give the teachers the opportunity to hold engaging classes and stimulate the development of the children’s capacities. Thanks to further donations from HOMICO, the children’s home is preparing to build an additional summer pavilion.
Some of the soft play equipment and the new dry pool, purchased with donations from Holland
Through the contributions of our international friends, Happy Child installed an outdoor metal ping-pong table and two soccer goals in Kalinovka. They are intended for use not only by children from the home, but also for the staff’s children. During the volunteer mission this summer in Kalinovka volunteers from the USA, Holland, Estonia and Ukraine played soccer nearly every evening with the village children, using rocks in place of goalposts. The volunteers promised to help the children install real goalposts. Now their promise is fulfilled and despite dropping temperatures soccer matches have been held in Kalinovka. Young guys from neighboring villages have even been come to participate. The support of the staff’s children is positive in and of itself, but perhaps the attitude of the staff toward Happy Child and its volunteers will also soften as a result, allowing for more fruitful collaboration between Kalinovka and Happy Child.
The new ping-pong table and soccer goal
About the work of the teacher/caregivers and successes of their charges
I would remind everyone that beyond taking care of children’s material needs, our charity’s most important tasks lie in changing the system of care and introducing an individual care program for each child. Our donors support the work of three additional teacher-caregivers who work to develop the children’s potential, their abilities to care for themselves, and who help organize outdoor excursions. Naturally, it is not yet possible for genuine rehabilitation in the European sense of the word, for up to now there has not been a rehab specialist at Kalinovka. Rather, the fact that many of the children have actually begun to feel like and experience themselves as children with individual worth and identity of that there can be no doubt. Recent indications suggest that not only the teachers hired by Happy Child but also the state-supported personnel are beginning to work in a new way—helping the children get out into the fresh air, engaging with them, giving greater attention to the feeding process, etc.
Especially striking are the changes for the better with Valentina Fyodorovna’s ten charges—children who spent practically all of their waking hours lying in their beds. Alyosha, for example, a boy with cerebral palsy, has begun to speak better the last several months and works concertedly with developmental toys (painstakingly pounding in nails with a little hammer). We are coming to feel that this boy has practically unimpaired cognition and that his delayed development is caused by lack of adult attention.
Teacher Valentina Fyodorovna (left) shows us her new classroom in the remodeled building
Girls actively doing beadwork
About the problems that remain
We have talked about the positive changes. Now we’ll return to the problems. We’ll say right up front that what is left to be done at Kalinovka is far greater than what has already been accomplished.
In spite of the fact that the children often get out into the fresh air, a significant number of residents (around 20-35 children) still spend most of their time in beds. We are taking the lead in clarifying the causes of such a policy and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of outdoor excursions. We are proceeding on the basis of the following guidelines and goals:
1. All of the children, when the weather conditions are favorable, regardless of the time of year, should get out into the fresh air on a daily basis (unless clearly inadvisable)
Happy Child associates are working to explain this policy to the personnel and leadership of the internat with the goal of making Guideline No. 1 part of daily life.
2. Improving the sanitary-hygiene conditions for the children at the internat
Together with the director of the internat, we hope to do the following: work out a directive that makes explicit the frequency, duration, and nature of hygiene procedures for bathing, changing diapers, clothing and footwear, brushing teeth, and cutting hair and nails; set up a clear schedule for daily airing out rooms using ultraviolet disinfection, and tidying up the quarters; instruct the personnel on the necessity of observing all the standards indicated in the written directive; determine who is respon-sible in case standards are not upheld; listen to the views of the staff regarding the factors hindering them from sticking to the hygiene standards; take measures to remove obstacles for appropriately carrying out the hygiene procedures.
3. Establishing at the children’s home an adaptive environment favorable for children with special needs
We would like thoroughly to analyze the needs of each child. (This has never been done.) With these needs in mind, it is our goal to renovate corridors, rooms, toilets, showers with the needs of the children in mind (handrails, sloped access points, removal of obstacles to wheelchair movement, etc.)
4. Restricting the size of groups so that no more than 10-12 children are regularly together in one room
Goals: avoid combining groups on weekends; in forming groups take into account the level of development and specific disability of the child, also the personal attachments among the children and teacher-caregivers. Further, introduce daily individual lessons with the children and lessons in small groups of up to four persons. We have in mind developmental activities (development of logical thinking skills, recognizing letters, various sorts of therapy along these lines.)
5. Providing high-quality medical care for the children
Unfortunately the situation regarding the medical care of the children continues to remain difficult. Many children have still not been examined, while even visually their condition fills one with dire fears. Therefore, we shall endeavor that once or twice a month the following qualified specialists would visit the internat:
We will also look into the possibility of bringing to Kalinovka a speech therapist, orthopedic doctor, and masseur/masseuse (to train the personnel in massage). The doctors will prescribe up-to-date, effective medicines, and in emergencies refer the patient for hospitalization.
Concerning further needs
Naturally, for making the above goals a reality there are considerable provisional, material, and organizational expenses:
• Travel reimbursement for associates of Happy Child (to provide oversight of the situation). A one-way ticket costs UAH 35 ($7).
• Continuation of support for the work of three supplementary teachers (cost per teacher—from UAH1200/month or $250.);
• Payment for fabricating a metal cart for carrying the bedfast children outdoors (about UAH1000 or $200);
• Installation of a high-quality metal door for the playroom (UAH2500 or $500);
• A rug, 5m x 5m (soft, thick) for the playroom; a soft leather corner nook for play; a little round table and little chairs;
• Developmental toys (durable, made of wood or plastic).
Also, we will be happy to learn of volunteers who wish to spend several days at Kalinovka helping the teachers on outdoor excursions with the children, conducting lessons, and engaging with the children. If necessary the charity will reimburse trip and food expenses and resolve the question of a place to stay.
From the bottom of our hearts we thank those persons who continue to provide monthly support for our programs at Kalinovka, and we hope that the current financial crisis will not undermine the extremely important work of helping these children with special needs.
A full accounting of donations to Happy Child and outflow from Happy Child for the Kalinovka internat is posted on the web in Russian in the following reports:
Financial reports in English for the entire Happy Child program, not just Kalinovka, are posted on the English website at www.deti.zp.ua. Click on “English Version” and look for the reports.
Despite their physical-cognitive disabilities, the children at Kalinovka have individual personalities, feel the same feelings that each of us does—happiness and despair, pain and comfort, love and hostility, a desire to live and enjoy life. Each would like to become like other children.
For all questions about helping support Kalinovka or to take part in the visits of volunteers call +3 8 066 513 34 35, 701-32-86 (Zaporozhye).
In North America you may call David Sudermann, Northfield, Minnesota, at 507-663-1097.
Charitable Fund Happy Child
Translated from Russian by Andrew Shenk of Carleton College and David Sudermann, Northfield, Minnesota