MATRA Project "Improving quality of life and standards of services for disabled children through the development and building civil society in Ukraine"

History

In 2006, Henry Nouwen Fund from the Netherlands addressed the experts from Lviv Education  Rehabilitation Center "Dzherelo" for children with cerebral palsy to develop a rehabilitation program for disabled children from "internats" of the 3rd and 4th type (which are orphanages for children with mild physical disabilities but severe mental disorders and for children with severe physical disabilities but varying degrees of mental retardation) which have been receiving humanitarian aid, and conduct training for the personnel of the institution. The task was very difficult because, as it turned out after several visits to these institutions, the children there were not receiving any services in the field of physical, psychological or social rehabilitation. Permanent stay in bed led to very severe physical and psychological condition, of so called "bed-patients" or "hopeless" children. Insufficient number of personnel without special knowledge and skills of how to take care of such children was even worsening the difficult situation. Organizing training for staff of such institutions required involvement of experienced professionals in the field of rehabilitation. Representatives of SOFT Tulip Foundation from the Netherlands, which is a network of providers of services for disabled people, and which collaborates with the Dzherelo Education and Rehabilitation Center for many years, having learned the situation offered their partnership and in 2007 began work on developing an international project MATRA.

During the years of 2007-2008 Lviv Regional Association of Physical Rehabilitation Specialists in cooperation with the Netherlands Foundation "Socires" worked on developing a network and coordination of activities of Ukrainian and international organizations which promoted improving the life quality, services and protection of rights of severely disabled children in residential institutions such as "internats".

MATRA project in action
MATRA Project "Improving quality of life and standards of services for disabled children through the development and building civil society in Ukraine", supported by the government of Netherlands, started on the 1st of October 2008 and will continue for 3 years. The following Ukrainian organizations joined the project: the National Assembly of Disabled of Ukraine, the Lviv Children Education and Rehabilitation Center "Dzherelo" and the Lviv Regional Association of Physical Rehabilitation Specialists. The Dutch partners of the project are: SOFT Tulip Foundation, Socires Fund and the Royal Dutch Association of Physical Rehabilitation Specialists.

Project Objectives:
Provide high quality rehabilitation services and encourage integration of children with disabilities into the society through building capacity of such services providers, strengthening civil society and necessary policy changes.

The following activities are planned to be done within this project regarding policy changes: to analyze national laws and regulations related to childhood issues, social protection of children with disabilities and their families, assessment of the declared rights and ways of their implementation; to make a comparison of the national standards to the EU and UN standards of protection of children with disabilities;  preparation of proposals for development of necessary legislation changes and appropriate regulations.

One of the practical results of the project will be development and conduction of 4-day training "Basis of treatment of disabled children" by the specialists of the Education and Rehabilitation Center "Dzherelo" together with the experts from the Netherlands. The training will be organized for the staff of the type 3 and 4 internats which are coordinated and controlled by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.

This course will be based on modern, scientifically proven and practically tested in the European countries methods of rehabilitation of disabled children. The staff of the internats will acquire knowledge and skills required for the effective care and rehabilitation of disabled children.

There's another training planned to be held at the "Dzherelo" center for personnel of the "Early Intervention" programs from different regions of Ukraine which will help to provide better services to families in which disabled children are born. The project thus aims at the development of high quality local services as a better alternative to residential institutions for disabled children such as "internats".

The above introduced project envisages the development of the Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation, which will facilitate the recognition of status, modernization and standardization of the profession of physical rehabilitation specialist.

Within the framework of the project the following activities are planned:

  • Organizing a general meeting of Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation with the assistance of Brenda Meyers, the General Secretary of the World Confederation of Rehabilitation Specialists and Philip van der Wees, a representative of the Dutch Royal Association of Physical Rehabilitation Specialists. General Meeting will be held on May 28, 2009 in Lviv.
  • Semi-annual publication of information bulletins and development of the web site of the Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation.
  • Working visits to Ukraine of representatives of the Royal Dutch Association of Physical Rehabilitation Specialists to exchange experiences.
  • Participation of representatives of the Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation in the general meeting of the World Confederation of Rehabilitation Specialists in 2011 in Amsterdam, Netherlands to in order to obtain the membership.
  • Organization of a round table meeting in Kyiv on the topics of standardization, legislative regulations and prospects of rehabilitation practice in Ukraine.
The project provides an opportunity to develop democratic principles as the peculiar features of civil society, to collaborate on the common goal to protect the interests of vulnerable groups of population.

Updated information about ongoing activities of the project will be posted on the web-site of the Ukrainian Association of Specialists of Physical Rehabilitation and can be read in the semi-annual bulletin.