No child should feel like an outcast...
At last, Russia is seeing a progression in attitudes towards disability. Autism, as an official diagnosis, has only been accepted in Russia during the last decade. Previously It was considered a childhood disease and treated as a sickness with medicines, injections and even electrotherapy. After the age of 18, it was often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.
Because of this delay, support programs for families with autistic children in Russia are quite new and need development. There is a lack of trained non-medical professionals (teachers, psychologists, speech therapists, etc.) and schools are not ready to provide for children with autism. As a result, most are kept at home.
This is why it is so remarkable that Yuri and his wife Ira started a facility for children with mental disabilities 30 years ago!.. a facility that Love Russia has supported for 27 years. The aim of the project was, and still is, to train teenagers with disabilities and create jobs for them. And, in the process, build their confidence and skills while they fulfil real orders for real people and earn a little in the process.
Ira, who continues to run Federovits, says...
"Yes, these young people are different. Their mental disabilities mean that working under normal conditions isn't possible... BUT with lots of encouragement and taking the time to teach them... there are many skills they CAN perform just as well as anyone else.
Our goal at Federovits is to help them prepare for independent life, teach them not to be afraid of new things, overcome difficulties, not limit themselves in communicating with other people and to enjoy every day. All these years, we rejoice over every small success of our guys!"
"Zhenya is a special boy. He has autism and he does not talk. But I can tell he likes us and being here very much. He understands everything and performs all his tasks with care and accuracy.
I am concerned about his future. Zhenya lives alone with his father and his mother died a year ago. I continue to surround him with care and love, and it makes me so happy when he tries to use his words."
"Andrey was born with a very complex form of autism. Working with him is a big responsibility. Any small successes fill us all with great pride and joy. He has achieved so much and we entrust him with complex jobs on several of our machines now.
It's great that his mother comes in and helps us, this is unusual, especially that she was not afraid of his diagnosis of autism."
"Tanya is a very happy person. But we are concerned about her future. Her mum and dad are no longer involved with her, and her grandparents have taken her in. She worries a lot. Tanya can be absent-minded but she is also very capable. As we continue working on her skills she will achieve more, we are confident of that."
"Nastya is very small but very strong. She had several favourite dolls that she used to carry with her all the time. As she progresses and her confidence increases, she is gradually carrying them less and less. She is so eager and tries to do everything like the other guys even though she finds it very difficult. She can barely hold the pen yet loves to draw pictures from her imagination."
These young people and many others are so happy at Federovits and operate like a family. As autism becomes more widely recognised in Russia, more facilities are slowly being set up. The Phoenix centre is one that teaches domestic skills and gives some level of independence to people with mental disability.
For the Federovits centre to keep going they need funding. We have been helping for many years with the cost of feeding Ira's young people on the days they come to work.
You can support this food fund through this year’s Lent appeal: 'Donate a Plate'