Turkey

Turkey: Izmit mentally challenged rehabilitation and training centre: A great opportunity to integrate mentally children to the community

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After the devastating earthquake of 17th August 1999 in Marmara region Turkey more than 27 000 people lost their lives. The epicentre was Izmit region. States, local and international NGO's run for the recovery of the people in the region. But there was a group untouched and forgotten. The disabled ones. They were the most suffering before the earthquake and after.
Malteser Germany gave priority to the challenge of the disabled people in the region. Funds provided to Izmit Mentally Challenged Rehabilitation and Training Center established by International Blue Crescent one of the local partners .

Through these funds 170 mentally challenged get the opportunity to be trained on surviving skills, education, handworks and computer. Through the ateliers established in the center the older than 18 years old disabled started to produce handwork products, gifts, ceramics and plastic hygienic covers. The municipality has provided a selling stand in the Main Exhibition Center and the profit they make goes to their families as an income.

Most of the children get education and training have been selected from the most poor families in the region without any social security. Their ages range from 6 to 23. The program is shifted according to their ages. On the other hand 16 children with physical disableness get physiotherapy in the center and some of them recovering.

Through Malteser funds two minibuses have been purchased for the transport of the children from their houses to the center and back. Far from Izmit City municipalities provide their own minibuses in order to bring the disabled children from their regions. The centre serves to an area of 60 km diameter and a population more than 1,5 million. There are plans to expand the facilities and the capacity of the center.Upto now the center is able to provide education and training to 200 children and before the yearend the capacity will be full.

The center in the frame of its public awareness campaign for the disabled has formed a theater and folklor group which implemented its first performance in Izmit on 3rd December World Disbaled Solidarity Day. Local and nationwide TV's and media have covered the event. Local officials and a big crowd have attended the show.

The centre organizes monthly seminars in Izmit area for the families' awareness and cooperating with Abant Izzet Baysal University on the campaign. An another step taken is the formation of Parent School Association in the Centre which later on will organize fundraising and awareness campaigns by itself.