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Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia

by Creative Educational Center KEC
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Help People with Intellectual Disabilities -Serbia
Art Workshop from a Distance
Art Workshop from a Distance

On March 11th the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. With this announcement the world came to terms with the fact that the virus had reached all corners of the earth. On March 15th a state of emergency was declared in Serbia and KEC was forced to close its doors. It was hard to tell those we serve, those people who depend on our services, that for their own safety and the safety of those around them they needed to stay at home.

During this global pandemic people have been forced to confront big changes in their daily lives, adapt to the new realities and social losses. Many of our beneficiaries feel this even more acutely. They are scared, confused, bored and lonely. They need to be engaged and supported while forced to practice social distancing.

Recognizing this KEC redirected its efforts to electronic check-ins with our beneficiaries and their families. Our great team quickly developed new methods for connecting with our clients and soon after started implementation. The team’s highest priority in each contact was to maintain empathy despite the distance. During daily online calls, chats or small remote group sessions the counselor, special education teacher, speech therapist, psychologist affirmed to each of our beneficiaries that their fears, anger and distress were valid emotions and helped them cope with them.

In addition to these electronic sessions KEC also helped families with their existential needs. The majority of our families are single parents and many of them barely survive financially in normal times. Like for so many people, the COVID virus has only made survival even more difficult. We managed to collect and distribute 121 food packages for our families.

KEC staff and families are eager for the programs to begin again “in real life” but we are still closed for now. Considering the special needs of our community we are cautious about reopening. We will consult with the authorities about how and when to do this. Until then we will all have to accept the socially distanced version of KEC.

 Your help and support enables us to keep providing this support to our beneficiaries and their families. The KEC team hopes that you and your families are safe and healthy.

Keeping Fit with KEC
Keeping Fit with KEC
Social Distancing with KEC
Social Distancing with KEC
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Painting at Table
Painting at Table

What are those “creative” activities in the name Creative Educational Center? And why do we put so much emphasis on them that they are even in our name? KEC’s small center and even tinier budget doesn’t have much room or funding for big equipment or fancy materials. But we know that creative activities are important for our beneficiaries’ overall well being. So we need to be “creative” about these creative programs.

 

Working with various recycled materials, and simple art supplies our beneficiaries produce beautiful works of art that express their inner feelings, gives them confidence and a sense of pride. Some of our beneficiaries have very limited verbal communication skills. This does not stop them from expressing themselves using paint, paper, clay or whatever art supplies we have on hand. Other beneficiaries have limited fine motor skills. A paintbrush or a piece of clay can help them to maintain and even improve these abilities. The artistic work does the speaking for its creator.

 

KEC’s creative team has come up with a wide range of artistic projects over the years from ceramics to photography. Every year we make unique holiday cards that large companies and individuals buy to send to their associates and loved ones. Our beneficiaries make ceramic works that are useful as well as beautiful. These works are on display in our center and are great gifts for people looking for a one-of-a-kind present. Some of KEC’s works are even on display in public places in Belgrade. Central Gardens, a large scale luxury residential and commercial development in downtown Belgrade, commissioned KEC beneficiaries to make creative works that they incorporated into their buildings.

 

So, yes of course we are up to the challenge of creating innovative artistic projects for people with all ranges of abilities to enjoy in a small space and with limited funds. With your continued support we will keep putting the “C” KEC.

Clay
Clay
Holiday cards
Holiday cards
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Joy !! Marija and Co-Workers
Joy !! Marija and Co-Workers

Dear Supporter,

 Those of you have been following us since the beginning of our Global Giving drive might remember Marija from a previous report. She was a resident of a local orphanage until she had to leave on her 18th birthday. She experienced every kind of abuse and neglect imaginable in her early years and leaving the orphanage only added to the misery she was exposed to. Now at the age of 23 she lives in an old age home because this is the only place that the social system has to accommodate adults with disabilities. Marija has been a KEC beneficiary for almost 5 years. During that time our staff has worked hard to provide Marija with the on-going support that she needs to cope with daily life. Working with people with such backgrounds is not a straight line to success rather a lot of ups and downs on the path to something resembling stability. It is hard work for the professionals and especially for Marija as she navigates this complicated harsh world.

But in the last few years Marija’s world has expanded and a small window of success has opened for her. As part of our effort to find as many jobs for people with disabilities KEC is always on the look out for new businesses to partner with. So when a cake shop with a cult following for its artistic cakes opened, KEC’s staff dropped in to see if there could be a sweet future for the two organizations. Needless to say that the wonderful staff at Mandarin was willing to bring on board a person with disabilities and Marija was our woman. For the past two years, Marija has been helping in the kitchen of this elite cake shop in the center of town.

The KEC professional team is constant contact with Marija providing her with the support she needs to succeed in her new work environment. As anyone who has worked in the culinary world knows it is grueling work for the whole collective. Marija quickly learned the job but had a harder time understanding and handling the social relations working with the other staff members. She very often wanted to quit the job because of these inter-personal relationships. Most of these crises arose from Marija’s feeling like she was not as good as the others because she grew up in an orphanage and had experienced so many bad things in her life. She thought that people dismissed her and didn’t appreciate her work and efforts because of her background. Many hours of conversations and counseling were necessary to keep Marija at the job and help her resolve these problems.

A month ago the staff director invited Marija to an all staff outing outside of Belgrade. Marija immediately decided that she did not want to go because she assumed that no one really wanted her there and that if she went she would be all by herself. Again, with the support of the KEC professional staff Marija decided to go on the trip. When she came home she was ecstatic about how much she fun she had with her co-workers. It was the first time in her life that she saw a nice hotel, a beautiful meal and felt the warmth of people around her who valued her for her hard work and commitment.

So when you are in town, stop by the Mandarin cake shop. Tell them that Marija from the kitchen sent you. Let them know that you love their cakes (there is no way you won’t) and let them know that you appreciate their commitment to helping people with disabilities experience the joy of work and friendship.

Marija on Work Retreat
Marija on Work Retreat
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KEC crew visits Avala
KEC crew visits Avala

As the summer ends hopefully you are still under the spell of your summer travels. Whether you went to far off places or stayed close to home you felt the joy of being away from the grind of daily life. Most of KEC’s beneficiaries never have the chance to explore new places or get away from home. Their families do not have the money to go on vacation or even the ability to take them out of the city. For most of them the KEC center is their world even during the hot summer months.

 

This summer KEC made sure that its beneficiaries were able to experience the joy of the summer get-away. Three times more than 50 beneficiaries were able to feel the excitement of looking out the bus window as the city moves into the distance and new horizons open up in front of them. The KEC crew visited museums, cultural monuments, farms, and a mountain. They ate in restaurants and played football in open country fields. The summer day trip is so much a part of our lives but is truly special for our beneficiaries and their families.

 

As you savor the last memories of your summer get-away know that KEC is working to ensure that people with disabilities in Belgrade also have a chance to enjoy the shade of a lake side tree, cultural monuments and the simple joy of being away from home and the grind of daily life.

Enjoy Some Shade by the Lake
Enjoy Some Shade by the Lake
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Happy Ivana Happy Mom
Happy Ivana Happy Mom

Each day KEC’s day center provides programming for more than 50 people with intellectual and mental disabilities. KEC’s day center is special-- different from the others. It is hard to define the difference but our beneficiaries can feel it. Relying almost entirely on donations from supporters like you KEC manages to provide the beneficiaries with nutritious meals, keep them safe and engaged. But, there is something more that separates KEC from the rest.

 

KEC’s special touch is why Ivana (37), a long time KEC beneficiary, finally found a place that she and her family could feel good about. For most of us when we finish school it is a time celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to what comes next. Some times it means entering a new educational program other times it means leaping out into professional experiences. Like so many people with intellectual disabilities in Serbia the end of elementary school marked the end of formalized educational or social opportunities for Ivana. After finishing school Ivana became depressed and lacked interest in any kinds of activities. She was alone and sad. After years of this her mom and dad enrolled her in a small informal day program. From the very beginning Ivana found every way possible to avoid going there. She even made herself sick in the process of trying to get out of attending that program. The program met the barest minimum it kept her safe place and fed her but did not engage her. Ivana, though she could not express it in words, was desperate to be engaged and to be listened to.

 

Luckily Ivana’s social worker recognized that she needed a different environment and referred her to KEC. From her first day at KEC she has flourished. She made good friends, enjoys participating in the programming and is proud of her job at the Maxi supermarket where she bags groceries and stocks shelves. There are no more psychosomatic illnesses in Ivana’s life only fulfilling days spent at the KEC center. Ivana can’t put into words what makes the KEC day center different than the others but the smile on her face is proof that KEC has a special touch.

Ivana and Friends
Ivana and Friends
Ivana at Work
Ivana at Work
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Organization Information

Creative Educational Center KEC

Location: Belgrade - Serbia
Website:
Project Leader:
Margareta Kecman
Belgrade, Serbia
$18,685 raised of $25,000 goal
 
291 donations
$6,315 to go
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