People with disabilities are often rejected by Ukranian society. There are no programs for parents or workers trained on how to develop kids with disabilities. Because of this stigma, many of these children do not receive education but are kept at home, hidden away.
The idea for a camp came when one OM volunteer who has a child with autism shared about the struggles of parents with disabled children. The parents are left on their own with their problems, thinking that they are alone to face them. They have no rest because they can't leave their children even for a few hours.
OM along with some local organisations invited a group of 12 children and their parents into a caring environment, where one volunteer was assigned to each child so that the parents could rest. For 48 hours, the mothers were able to not be the sole caretaker of their child.
Throughout the day the children sang songs, played with bubbles, jumped on a trampoline, and even swam in a swimming pool with the volunteers. The Minions (professional clowns volunteering with OM Odessa team) even made an appearance to play games and lift spirits. Special attention was given to dietary needs of each special child.
The camp was a new thing for the families. It was the first time that some of the mothers could sit down and rest without worrying. As one mother reflected, “nobody ever thinks about having a camp for our children.”
For the children, it was their first time ever at camp, where they could sit by the fire and sleep in a tent. It was new for the volunteers as well, who underwent training to put on the camp and desired to learn more ways to help children with special needs.
But the story doesn’t end there. The momentum from the camp this summer has continued. Three times during the last four months, volunteers have taken the children to an entertainment centre where they can jump on the trampolines and play different games. During these activities, the volunteers met with moms to give them some training and support.
At present, OM Ukraine is planning future camps and dreaming of opening a Children's Centre where children with disabilities will be able to come and play games and be a part of a community at least once a week. They would like to find sponsors to help pay a speech therapist, psychologist and medical workers to work at the centre.
OM Odessa team leader Slavik Puzanov is grateful that God has allowed the team to serve these families. The team would like to see a change in the way people view children with disabilities...that they are also smart, talented, and that there are many things to learn from them. They wish to help society realise the potential God has given these children and to accept them.
Credit: OM International · © 2016 OM International