NGO: „Ray of Hope“, Association of parents of children with disabilities, Pljevlja
Title of the project: It takes two / Buddy program “Be a buddy – beautify the world”
Amount granted: € 9,500.00
Association of Parents of children with disabilities “Ray of Hope” was founded in 2002. and they represent the social model of disability. The Association advocates the right that children with disabilities should be extended an equal chance of growing up as the other children, so that they can be included equally in social community when they grow up. They have 130 members – parents of children with disabilities.
It was a long way which Ray of Hope have passed in the last ten years, from having pity on disabled children to respect of their rights. As they put it “We have learned others to stop seeking in our children what is lost forever, but to seek those abilities that need to be developed”.
In addition to lobbying for the rights of disabled children, they developed a number of support services in Pljevlja within the area of education, health and social care and employment. Services that this organization developed are: Half-day stay, teaching assistants in schools, personal assistants (home help), adopted transport and creative workshops for youth with disabilities. Together with the municipality of Pljevlja (small town at the north of Montenegro), they are founders of Public Institution Day-Care Center for children and youth with disabilities, and that is a unique example of partnership between public and civil sector in Montenegro.
The service that they have been developing for the last 4 years, is the Voluntary Service.
In 2009, they came up with the idea that it would be good for the Association (which has already been recognized not only in Pljevlja but also beyond) to gather a number of high school students that would be a support to disabled children, in order to elicit smiles on their faces and brought joy to their lives. “Ray of Hope” today has more than 50 high school volunteers, students and other young people.
The work of volunteers is very important in two ways – volunteers provide daily support to children with disabilities on one side, but on the other they develop own awareness and thus learn to value and respect the environmental values and, in a practical way, to participate in society. Here comes their story:
“In 2011, we started with implementation of Buddy project through program “It takes two”, supported by Skan Foundation and Fund for Active citizenship – Fakt. At the very beginning we were not sure how it will work, as the project foreseen socialization tailored to model “one on one” (volunteer-beneficiary) particularly for children with severe intellectual disabilities. Soon we found out that friends recognized each others, they have understood what they want and that they seized regardless of the disability and that gave us the motivation to develop this model, additionally. With Buddy project we have gathered 25 pairs, and volunteers were recruited and selected from an existing database, with regard to their preferences, and based on their previous experience in working with children with disabilities. Individual meetings are carried out through visits to cultural and sporting events, hanging out in bars, excursions and sport activities, altogether with taking part in drama and other sections. Smiles on their faces, gentle glimpses, impatiently waiting when his/her buddy will get, enough says about the necessity and success of this kind of fellowship/socialization”.
By participation in this project, volunteers of Ray of Hope have been significantly strengthened, with new skills acquired, upgraded sensibility and, the most important, they succeeded to bring positive vibes among their peers and older than themselves.