Serbia is a small country with many problems. It is hard to say whether its political problems lead to the economic ones or the other way around. But it is clear that both of those types of problems lead to many unresolved social issues. The country seems unwilling to take even baby steps towards improving the status of its most vulnerable people. When it does take a step forward over time it slowly reverses track.
At the beginning of the aughts Serbia pledged to achieve 100% deinstitutionalization in a decade or two. Today, the few people who were taken out of large-scale residential institutions have been uprooted from their homes in the community and put back into institutions. In 2019, no one talks about deinstitutionalization anymore and what is worse no one talks about how to improve the deteriorating institutions either.
KEC’s mission is to provide programing and support in the community to people with special needs so they do not need to live in large-scale long-term dilapidated and under-funded residential facilities. Through its efforts KEC helped a few of these individuals avoid reinstitutionalization. But KEC could not prevent most of them from being uprooted from their homes and communities. In the aftermath of this immoral act by the government KEC has doubled-down on its efforts to find jobs for people in the community. In fact, it was a job that KEC helped one disabled woman find that prevented her from being returned to an institution. Her colleagues rallied around her to ensure that she would be able to stay in the community and continue to make a contribution to society and remain the bright light of their team.
After visiting and talking with the individuals who were less lucky the one common sentiment that they all share is that they miss their jobs. They miss having something to do all day. They miss having a place where they can make a difference. They miss the pride they felt of making their own money.
Serbia might have lost its resolve to improve the lives of people with disabilities but KEC has not. Your continued support makes that possible.
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