News Society, 05/08/2017

Successful Inclusion Project

Organizers of the Flying House social project and its participants told about an inclusion process in Kharkiv. The meeting took place at LifeHub Yabloko on August 3.

Kharkiv only starts its way in the direction of inclusion. Flying House is a center for social adaptation created by the NGO Emmaus in 2011. Its participants are teenagers who need to be accepted by the society.

“In our country, if the graduates do not have relatives, they find themselves in a nursing home. The outlook is not very joyful,” says Emmaus director Lali Liparteliani.

First, the project’s initiators helped boarding schools graduators to prepare for admission to educational institutions.

Later, they realized that the children need their own house and mentors’ support for adaptation. So they settled the girls with different types of physical challenge in one place and helped them to arrange the new way of life. Italian fund AVSI has collected donations to buy the lodging for girls.

“Now we have a separate apartment with all the necessary things. Girls’ main task was to learn to deal with the challenges of adult life, we shouldered the rest,” Lali told.

Four girls live in the apartment: Tetiana, Olena, Iryna, and Lena. All of them are boarding schools pupils from the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

“When I graduated, I was very scared. Realizing that the world is big, I did not know where I would go. Thanks to Flying house we understood that the world is not as terrible as we thought,” one of the participants, Tetiana, shared her experiences.

The girl has the skills of a social worker, but she does not practice her professions. The reason is she has not managed to get the higher education. She tried herself in different works. In parallel, the girl gained experience in volunteering by helping the homeless, internally displaced persons and communicating with the children living on the street.

The second participant Lena told how difficult it was to enter the university.

“Special schools give a light program. It’s great when we are children and not fully aware of this yet; we do not know what will happen next. But after finishing school, we face reality. We didn’t study many subjects; we are not getting used to intensive program that is given in college. For comparison, our program for nine classes in a boarding school is equal to the five classes one in an ordinary school,” told Lena.

The girl failed her first External Independent Testing. So the next year she studied with a tutor to pass an exam.

“I obtained government educational grant at Kharkiv Humanitarian-Pedagogical Academy. I will be a social worker. I really like this profession. Now, I realized that nine classes that I finished were a waste of time. Because for a year I have developed the knowledge base more than in those nine years in a boarding school,” Lena believes.

Discussing the issue, those present and speakers agreed that the problem of inclusion in Ukraine and Kharkiv, in particular, depends on everyone: teachers, parents, and children. We are far from European practices on this issue.

Meeting participants concluded that our society needs to move in small steps. It’s the preparation of the inclusion process, talking to teachers, parents, and children. The main thing is to be not afraid to meet each other and talk about uncomfortable topics.

“We act as a link between parents, teachers, psychologists. We started with a dialogue between the representatives of these groups and provided an opportunity for these people to discuss the problems that they face or see in the process of inclusion. Inclusion needs discussion, it helps us understand the problem and move on to concrete solutions,” said the facilitator of dialogues Olena Kopina.

Text and photo: Anastasia Mitrofanova