The Center for children with mental disorders is organized by the community of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sumy and headed by Olena Abayeva, the head of the NGO “Social and psychological rehabilitation center “The World of Happy Children” an experienced psychologist and teacher who relocated from Donetsk to Sumy in 2014. Being a mother of a child with autistic disorder, Olena knows how important support for families with children with special needs is. Olena was able to gather a group of like-minded professionals around her. In the Center's team, there are six professional child psychologists, speech therapists, and oligophrenic pedagogues.
In June 2017, the NGO applied to CrimeaSOS to include their project into a quick impact project (QIP) with funding from UNHCR. The project served to renovate premises provided by the Sumy City Council for the establishment of the centre and to purchase the furniture and special equipment, including for a sensor room.
The project was made possible thank to a multi-donor programme funded by donor countries like Sweden. While inaugurating the centre in the presence of Mr. Martin Hagstrom, the Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine, representatives of local authorities and civil society, the UNHCR Representative praised the work of all who came together to make the Centre a reality. “Integration of displaced people and communities is an important part of work of UNHCR. – said Pablo Mateu, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine. – We believe that support to durable solutions is necessary to ensure that conflict-affected people can build a new life in a new place. For this, cooperation of all actors – local governments, hosting communities and displaced people themselves is needed to work out great.
“As UNHCR, we often see that social integration projects are only possible when there is close cooperation between local authorities, donors, NGOs and civil society. One of the principles underpinning the work of the United Nations is that of “leaving no one behind”. This ensures better integration and protection of affected populations, and works towards a more inclusive society”.
Local authorities provided support to the Centre by allocating 170 square meters premises on Hlynky street. “In Sumy, we strive to support initiatives of the civil society aimed at introducing improvements for different groups of people leaving in the city. This is a part of our policies directed at empowerment of civil society, - said Oleksandr Lysenko, Head of the Sumy City Council.
More than 15 children a day will be able to visit the Centre. Some children from socially vulnerable families with will get support from the Centre free of charge.
“Psychological rehabilitation of children is only a first step on the way to a comfortable and happy life of our special children. Everyone deserves equal right and opportunities in life, and we hope that the confidence in themselves that we help to develop will help them in the future”, - said Olena Abayeva, Head of the Centre.
CrimeaSOS representatives underlined that such initiatives are important not only for IDPs, but for Ukrainian society in general. “We hope that setting up of the Centre will become the starting point for another projects and activities aimed at supporting special children and inspiration to implement similar initiatives around Ukraine.”
Representatives of the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine and IDP NGO “Ami-Skhid” also took part in the opening. They drew attention to the importance of such centres from perspective of the Convention on the Right of People with Disabilities.