As with people all over the world IRODA is facing challenges and changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Recent restrictions have resulted in the ‘Dar Yak Zamin’ café and ‘iTavono’ design studio (IRODA’s two social enterprises) needing to close. The café and design studio have been providing employment for young people with disabilities as well as generating income to support IRODA’s work. Whilst caring for the community by following restrictions and physical distancing, IRODA is seeking to support the young employees and continue to generate income required to maintain the organisations important services. These are challenging times but IRODA remains committed to the community that it serves
IRODA’s programs supporting children and their families with their development and learning are currently not being provided face to face. Recently the Director of one of our partner organisations in Bangladesh provided online training for the IRODA staff on how to support children and families remotely. Much was learnt from the experience of the Hope Autism Centre who has been working remotely for longer than IRODA. In such challenging times it is so helpful to have partners and mentors to learn from and share experiences with. Not every family has consistent access to the internet and creativity is required to find alternative ways of offering support through these difficult times.
More than ever we are thankful for your on-going partnership as we adapt to the changing times that we are in. With creativity, care and compassion we will continue to support our community. Thank you for enabling us to do so in these challenging times.
An exciting new venture for IRODA has been the opening of ‘Free-DOM’, an apartment in Tajikistan that will support young people in gaining independent living skills. Using the Russian word for house, ‘dom’, and the English word ‘free’ the name of this project describes what it is hoped will be created for young adults with disabilities in Tajikistan.
Prior to IRODA’s work in supporting and advocating for young adults with autism institutional care was assumed to be the most appropriate option for adults who were not able to live within their family’s home. In the creation of ‘Free-DOM’ IRODA is setting up a model for both training young people with everyday life skills and creating opportunities for supported accommodation within the community.
It is hoped that this recently equipped apartment will be the first of many places within neighbourhoods throughout Tajikistan that will provide young adults with supportive environments in which to learn new skills and experience independence within an inclusive community. Thank you for your on-going partnership that is changing the future for people with disabilities in Tajikistan.
Central to IRODA’s work from the very beginning has been its endeavour to provide timely and meaningful supports to families of young children with autism. Currently IRODA supports around 100 families of young children through programs at its centre and home visits from staff. IRODA has led by example in providing supports that are family centred and relevant to the individual children and family in their unique home and community context. As IRODA has developed early childhood intervention for children with autism there has been demand for services following the same principles for children with cerebral palsy and down syndrome. Broadening its work IRODA is now offering group programs at the centre and home-based supports using a family centred approach for children with other disabilities. Recently IRODA has also started to mentor organisations in three regional areas of Tajikistan on early childhood intervention.
Increasing awareness of the importance of early childhood development amongst the general public is a priority. IRODA has been involved in the production of a documentary that shares stories and experiences of families and professionals, highlighting the importance of supporting children in the critical early years of their development. The documentary is currently being shown on national television in Tajikistan and providing an excellent means by which to increase understanding and awareness.
A commitment to supporting children and their families right from the start is having a long-term impact on individual lives and the development of social services in Tajikistan. Thank you for your partnership with IRODA that allows the work to grow and expand.
Following the success of the training café ‘Dar Yak Zamin’ opened in 2017 to create employment opportunities for young adults with autism, IRODA has continued to look for ways to support young people in preparing for and gaining employment. Just recently this has led to the social enterprise expanding to open the first ever mobile food van in Tajikistan. As an extension of the ‘Dar Yak Zamin’ café and catering service the food van is providing additional employment opportunities for young adults with autism and engaging with the community through its mobile service.
The socioeconomic situation in Tajikistan, in combination with the need for Tajik society to continue to develop an acceptance and appreciation for the skills and abilities of the young adults IRODA supports, results in challenges in gaining employment in the open labour market. While these barriers exist IRODA is working hard through its social enterprises to provide employment opportunities and engage with the community to change attitudes and systems.
Thank you for your on-going partnership that supports IRODA to create innovative opportunities such as its new mobile food van.
What do parents of children with differences in their development want?
To meet a professional who will listen to their worries, thoughts, and feelings. Someone who will take the time to answer their questions about their child. A person who will help them to make plans to support their child’s learning and development, and while doing so build their confidence as a parent. Someone who acknowledges and affirms what their family is already doing to support their child. Conversations that are filled with honesty and hope, with objectivity and without judgement. People that interact with respect and understanding.
This week, IRODA, with support from the Open Society Foundation, hosted training for national service providers, and members of the Early Intervention and Early Inclusive Development Network from four regions of Tajikistan. Hollie Hix-Small from the University of Portland, Oregon, presented practical training for professionals working with young children in Tajikistan. Frequently parents of children with autism in Tajikistan report that they have felt professionals have not taken the time to listen to their concerns, judged their parenting and left them feeling hopeless and unsupported. Through training such as this week’s event IRODA is hoping to shift the way in which professionals interact with and support families. Professionals are being given tools to build the capacity of families to promote their children’s development and participation in everyday routines.
As an organisation that has been founded by parents of children with autism IRODA is well placed to help shift the way in which health and education staff work with families. We hope to continue to provide training that will mean more parents across Tajikistan have the opportunity to work with professionals that recognise their strengths, build their capacity as a family and support them to promote their child’s development in everyday life. Thank you for your on-going support as we seek to bring about change in Tajikistan… Changes in professional’s approaches, philosophies and attitudes… and ultimately changes for children and their families.
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