“Know me, Respect me, Support me!”

campania_logo_text_josEvery person with disabilities has abilities that deserve to be promoted. It is because of pity, indifference and ignorance that their abilities remain unknown. Persons with disabilities need respect and support to assert themselves as full members of society.

In order to raise awareness within society regarding persons with disabilities, Keystone Moldova has launched the social media campaign: “Know me, Respect me, Support me!”.  During the campaign, personal stories of persons with disabilities told in storytelling methodology; photos of persons with disabilities who left the institutions and now live in the community, with a short text about them; success stories; photo reportages; photos from the PhotoVoice exhibition ‘”World, the way I see it”; and short films will be published online. In ten small villages movie nights will be organized, where movies about disability and persons with disabilities, along with the films edited by Keystone Moldova, will be shown. An outdoor PhotoVoice exhibition is also planned to take place in Chisinau.

The campaign was launched within the project “Media and communication for an inclusive society”, implemented by Keystone Moldova, with financial support of Open Society Foundations/Health Media Initiative and Soros-Moldova Foundation.

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Volunteering at Hansca Community Home

This summer Hansca Community Home had a volunteer from Switzerland. She managed to develop beautiful relationships with each one of the guys who live there and to find out what they like. She told us she liked  the atmosphere in Community Home and the food very much. 4

We invite you to get to know her from the following interview:

I: Please, tell me your name and occupation.

Judit: Judit Bünter, Student.

I’ll become a secondary school teacher in Switzerland. In Switzerland we study four subjects to become a secondary school teacher. I study German, English, Music and Geography. I’ll finish my studies next year.

I:  Tell me a little about your background.

Judit: I was never really a volunteer in other countries but I’ve already taught German in England (during my Erasmus Program) and in Macedonia (where I also stayed for one month). Furthermore, I’ve spent two months in Tanzania last summer to observe and support teachers there. We’ve also helped them to organize a school garden. I’ve wrote my master thesis about this project.

I:  How did you ended up here, in Moldova, in Hansca Community Home?

Judit: I wanted to do something useful during my summer term and visit a country I’ve never been to before.

I:  For how long have you been staying here?

Judit: Four Weeks

I:  Do you enjoy staying here? Why?

2Judit: Yes. I had an enjoyable working atmosphere. I got in contact with friendly and supportive people and I had the opportunity to discover Moldova a bit.

I:  What do you like here the most?

Judit: It’s hard to pick only one thing. I guess it’s a mix of everything: the guys and working colleagues, new friends, Chisinau, the country side, cheap prices and fantastic food.

I:  What about the guys? How do you communicate with them?

Judit: I tried to speak Romanian as good as I could but most of the time I spoke English. I’ve used a lot of gestures though.3

I:  Tell me about your relationship with each of them.

Judit: Mihai. He’s got his own mind and is only doing what he wants. One can’t really ‘force’ him into doing something he doesn’t want to. On the other hand, however, he liked dancing with me and ‘interviewed’ me couple of times. Generally speaking, I didn’t spend that much time with him because he was also able to entertain himself.

Victor. It’s a pity that he can’t talk. But we have a very good relation. We were giggling and playing a lot. He is my little sunshine.

Ion. I had the impression that he liked my massages. He always took my hand and placed it at the neck which meant that this is good.6

Sergiu. He always wanted to have a massage on the back. It was pretty nice to see that it has a relaxing influence on him. Furthermore, he liked to dance with me. I also had to snap with my fingers, clap my hands or making sounds with my mouth. I observed several time that he reacts positively to music.

Ion. He always said my name and begged for water. In fact, that meant that he wanted to have my attention. He likes to be included and having people around him.

Andrei. I’ve started to build those towers of wooden sticks with him to improve his dexterity. In addition, he’d liked to count from 1 to 10 in all languages I know.

I:  What do you usually do together?

Judit: Playing, drawing, talking, dancing, giving massages, cooking, eating, watching TV

I:  What do you think about the service, the personnel?5

Judit: I was so pleased that my working colleagues were so great. Each and every one of them tried to talk to me. They also cooked very well and were interested in my background.

I:  Have you been in such services in other places?

Judit: No, they were not really comparable.

I:  In your opinion, is there something that needs to be changed or improved?

Judit: Summers are pretty hot in Moldova so maybe more shelters are needed also to play outdoors. And I’m not sure whether the guys drink enough water during this hot period.

I:  How do you plan to use the experience that you gained here?poza 1

Judit: Social experiences are useful in everyday life. I’ve never worked with persons with disabilities before but now I have a little impression of what it feels like to work with them.

I: Thank you, Judit!

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Volunteering at Keystone Moldova – a great experience for us

Leaving for Moldova, we were a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect from the country and Keystone, the organization we were gonna work for. Two weeks later we can wholeheartedly say that it was an amazing experience. We were welcomed into Moldova with open arms and we met the most hospitable people. More importantly we could work in an organization which is doing an amazing job in a field where there is
still a long way to go.

We started working in the Community home in Nisporeni, where we met the first boys.

Being a project administrator, person who sits behind a desk all day, I did not know what to expect. I felt lucky I had Marjan with me, since she has more experience in the field being a physiotherapist. But to be honest, we were both nervous when we met the boys we were gonna work with that week.

foto's Marjan (48) We first met Alexandru, whom we picked up from Orhei institution and went with us to Nisporeni Community home. For him was the first day in a new home… We met Anton, the sweet sixteen year old boy and Vasile, sitting on his regular spot on the couch. Then we were guided to the room of three other guys, Slavic, Pavel and Marius. Our first impression was that it might be harder to have a connection with them, since they had to lay in bed all day due to some muscle-disease.  At the end of the week, we would be proven to be absolutely wrong in this first impression.

Each day we tried to have some diverse activities with the first three boys, focusing the first half of the day on their fine motor skills and later during the day on their gross motor skills. Being so close to Easter, we decided to do some things in the spirit of this holiday :-). Besides doing these activities, we also worked on the muscle tension with the other three boys.

foto's Marjan (41) The second week we moved to other Community home from Chirca/ Anenii Noi, where we met very different guys. To begin with, they were adults so we would have to focus more on functional activities while having fun as well. We had Victor, the most independent guy;  Efim, with the mischievous twinkle in his eye and we had Petru saying our names in the most beautiful way (boyfriends: listen and learn :-)).  Then we had our two guys in a wheelchair, Ion being all muscle and Mihai being all laughs, and Gabriel.

They were as enthusiastic as we were and everything would work out itself after the first day. We followed a different routine to the one in Nisporeni. In the morning we focused on doing physical and relaxation activities with Ion, Mihai and Gabriel. With the three other guys we mainly focused on fun physical activities and working in the kitchen.foto's Nele (138)

We hope everyone we met had as good a time as we had! We also hope we could contribute to what Keystone wants to achieve. We learned a lot and we‘d love it if the children and people from Keystone also learned something from us.

We would like to thank everybody who helped to make our two weeks in Moldova so memorable!

Special thanks go to Parascovia and her family who learned us a lot about Moldova, Keystone and for her hospitality. We can truly say we will never forget you!

To the homes of Nisporeni and Anenii Noi; thank you for being so friendly and patient with us, you are doing a great job.

Thank you Elisa and your family for the funny mornings, evenings and nights and your delicious food! Staying at your house is unforgettable to us!

Sergiu, thank you for driving us to the homes, all the explanation and of course all the translation… And Tucano!

We also want to thank Keystone Moldova for the chance they gave us and Eliza who spend a lot of time with mailing us.

Multumim tuturor!

Marjan and Nele, Volunteers from Belgium 

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”I feel free now!”

The story of a young man, who has lived in a boarding school for 17 years

DSC02116 Marin is an optimistic young man, with a lot of courage, dreams and hopes, who, at the age of 17, had the courage to say: „That’ it. I do not want to live in a boarding school anymore! I want to live in the community, make friends, and make tea by myself!”

Marin is at home one month, together with other five young men, former residents of the Orhei Residential Institution for children with mental disabilities. The 5th of March 2014 was the happiest day of his life – the day of transfer to the Falesti Supported Living social service, called „home” by Marin and his colleagues. At home, life is completely different from the one in the boarding school. „I feel free here. Together with the boys, we decide on what and when we shall eat, when we shall work. We learn a lot of new things; we have neighbors, who are very affable”, says Marin.

The change was what Marin most wanted, while living in the boarding-school. He knew it was not going to be easy. He knew there would be many obstacles and difficulties to face. He had moments, when fear and doubt were overwhelming. „While in the institution, we were repeatedly told: „You seem to think that your life in the community will be better! You will want to come back to the institution. Out there, you’ll have no food!” remembers Marin.

DSC02014Initially, he was flinching at every rustle. He could not sleep at night and was having nightmares. He had dreams of unknown persons entering the house to steal their things and he could not defend himself, as his locomotor disability stopped him from running away or defending himself. Arthrogryposis is a condition he has acquired at birth. It is well known that any recovery intervention should be performed at the appropriate time. If the surgery had been made at an early age, the likelihood of Marin to move without support would be very high. The neglect of administration of residential institutions deprived him of this opportunity, as well as of the possibility to wear glasses and hearing device. „When I left the institution, they took my glasses. They said they were not mine, they belonged to the institution”, says Marin. Also, while living in the institution, Marin’s hearing has not been investigated, although he has a hearing impairment. The investigations have been conducted only after he left the institution. Thanks to the generosity of the Republican Centre for Audiology, Marin will more easily understand messages of people around, as this center has donated him a hearing device worth about 8000 lei.

Life in the community is not easy. When, during 17 years, one has been deprived of the possibility to make decisions, choices, the freedom seems a huge, unknown ocean, full of challenges and dangers. Despite of all the obstacles, Marin has a positive thinking. His faith in God is his source of energy and hope, as well as the few close people, whom he met at different stages of life: „I know it will be fine! I will only have to fight hard!”

Nelea Panfil,
Psychologist, Keystone Moldova

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Participation in political and public life – everyone’s right!

DSC04806_rev On Saturday, March 22, 2014, we discussed the Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Participation in political and public life, within the Group of People with Intellectual Disabilities, who have been deprived of the right to live in the community.

DSC04802_revGroup members provided examples from their own experience, where one could easily recognize violations of the right to vote and participate in the community life by the institution they lived in.

So, upset, a group member told us: “If we do not vote for the person indicated, they tell us that they will send us to Badiceni”. Badiceni refers to one of the psycho-neurological boarding school for adults with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems.

Although they had already had voting experiences, the group members learned about the fact that the vote was secret and carried out based on personal decision only on Saturday.

????????Group members have also stated that they need support to learn to express their opinions and thoughts. „We did not talk much at the boarding school, we were ordered to keep silent” said they.

DSC04798_revThe Group of People with Intellectual Disabilities, who have been deprived of the right to live in the community, has been created on October 23, 2013, with the goal to train skills of self-advocacy and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.

This activity is a part of the project People with Disabilities – actors in preventing and combating discrimination, implemented by Keystone Moldova, with the financial support of Soros-Moldova Foundation, Equality and Civic Engagement Program.

Eliza Caus, project coordinator, Keystone Moldova

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I am free!

After 29 years spent in 3 residential institutions, the last one being the Orhei Institution, Ion Moscalenco left it last weekend. He went to the Shared Living service, developed within the family of Elena and Veaceslav Rusu from Tirsitei village, Telenesti rayon.


Before leaving the institution for good, Ion joined the family for a matching period that lasted three weeks. Ion was very emotional in the morning of the day he had to come to the institution to pick up his papers and say goodbye to the colleagues. On the one hand, he was willing to see his favourite nurse, on the other hand, though, he was overwhelmed by fear not to be left in the institution by his new family. When the nurse asked him where he had gone, he emphasized, with a big smile on his face: „Home!” Colleagues, as well as employees, were looking at Ion questioningly and, at the same time, with admiration of the luck that “had struck” him.

IMAG0053_rev Upon returning home, the new family was waiting for him with delicious dishes. When he sat at the table, Ion rubbed his hands, as though he had finished a very important mission and said: „That is it, I have papers, I am not coming back, I am free.”

Up to now, Keystone Moldova, in partnership with local public authorities, has developed three Shared Living services in the rayons of Ungheni, Basarabeasca and Telenesti, where three adults with intellectual disabilities were placed.

Oxana Costandaki, social assistant, Keystone Moldova

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Arcadie Zaraischi celebrated his 35th birthday

We have not been able to overlook the 1st of December, which among other things, has a special significance for a person we care about – Arcadie Zaraischi – and decided to make a surprise. Together with the four boys from the Orhei Supported Living, we traveled to Oxentea village, Dubasari rayon, where Arcadie lives.

”This is the most beautiful day of my life. My birthday has come. I helped to prepare the meals, I went shopping. Together, we will open the bottle of champagne and will eat the cake. I am so happy”, said Arcadie, when he saw us.

Once everyone had arrived, the celebration began. Champagne splashes hurried into guests ‘glasses, who were waiting to wish a “Happy Birthday!” to Arcadie. The phone was constantly ringing: friends, acquaintances, colleagues wanted to congratulate him. Everyone revolved around him, living difficult- to-render positive emotions.

We joked, we rejoiced, we had a good time, the environment became animated and cheerful. But, as in the case of any good thing, the time came for the party to end. Before we parted, we agreed to go all together to another birthday in Calarasi.

Ina Crasnojon-Laba, specialist in behavioral psychology, Keystone Moldova

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