First community home in Macedonia
Last week in Skopje the first ever community based home for people with disabilities in FYR Macedonia was opened. Home is major step toward ending social exclusion of people with disabilities. The community home will be operated by Polio Plus, a Macedonian NGO, with funding from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Open Society Mental Health Initiative.
Thursday, 11 December 2008, by Source and photo: HRH Skopje
The first four residents were visited by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy in their new home in Skopje, after having lived for years, and in some cases decades, at the Special Institution Demir Kapija. The Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, offered his full support for this project: “I am very glad that I was able to welcome our new neighbors and very happy to have felt their happiness being in their own home. This is the first step of implementing positive foreign experiences from other European countries in building a just and inclusive society in Macedonia”
“We are so pleased to have successfully negotiated this project with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy because it demonstrates the Macedonian government’s commitment to including people with disabilities in their communities,” said Judith Klein, director of the Open Society Mental Health Initiative.
“The opening of this home is a landmark in Macedonia for people with disabilities. It is the beginning of a new era of freedom and choice,” said Zvonko Shavrevski, President of Polio Plus.
This move is part of a three-year cooperation agreement signed on September 18 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Open Society Mental Health Initiative. As part of the agreement, known as the “Community for All Initiative: Macedonia,” supported housing services will be established in local communities throughout Macedonia. This ensures that people, many of whom have spent a lifetime in an institution excluded from society, will live in local communities as equal citizens and receive individualized support from Housing Services.
Ali Turkijan, one of the first four residents of the new community-based home, stated: “After years of walking around only in the circle of the institution, I am so happy to be able to go to the local market or in the neighborhood whenever I want”. He appealed to the officials not to forget that “there a lot of our friends at the institution who deserve to enjoy the same kind of life as I do now”.
The Special Institution Demir Kapija is the only long-stay social welfare institution for people with intellectual disabilities in Macedonia. In spite of numerous attempts to improve conditions on the inside, residents are still unable to exercise their most basic human rights. Macedonia, which has a severe lack of alternatives to institutions, signed the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities in March 2007. The cooperation agreement will help the country make the provisions of the Convention a reality.
Source and photo: HRH Skopje
Published by HRH Sarajevo