Picture Spread: Stories from the Lives of People With Disabilities in Kostanay City

The grant programme under the UNDP and RK Ministry of Labor and Social Protection Project provided funding to NGOs based in Kostanay, Karaganda and Almaty to develop effective approaches to social services for people with special needs.

‘Preodoleniye’ Centre for Independent Living was started by two wonderful people, Dyusengali Ospanov and Aruna Ospanova. Despite their disabilities, the founders of Kostanay daycare centre live an incredibly active life. Their enthusiasm and inner strength made ‘Preodoleniye’ Centre a second home for 20 people.

It is a place where young people with special needs make friends, play sports, practice their hobbies, learn to be independent around their homes and in the community and acquire all-around independent living skills.

‘Most importantly, many of those, who come to the Centre, in particular, young people, managed to overcome their depression and unwillingness to live. The Centre offers hope. Young people make friends and talk to each other. They start to see a promise for their lives and expanding opportunities and are no longer trapped within the four walls of their apartments, which is a great thing’, says Aruna Ospanova.

It is hard to believe, but that many of them had not left their apartments for years before the Centre was opened and had no chance to communicate with their peers, make friends and let go thoughts about their helplessness.

Please meet Nastya Murzabekova. Despite being an open and sociable person, Nastya stayed at home for a few years, sitting on the window-sill in her room for months. Before discovering the Centre, the girl did not dare to believe that even a wheelchair-bound person can live a full and vibrant life.

With the support from UNDP, the Centre could accommodate 10 more young people with disabilities at the end of 2012. Their monotonous life became filled with things they had never experienced before, such as physiotherapy, massage, computer classes, sewing, singing, and even ballroom dancing classes.

The UNDP grant allowed the Centre to hire a psychologist, a work therapist, a physical therapist, a masseur and a music and singing teacher. The Centre also bought music and computer equipment and arranges concerts, trips and get-togethers.

At this early stage, it can be stated with certainty that the services offered by the Centre are highly effective, since all those attending the Centre can feel important changes, no matter how small they can be.

For example, during her time in the Centre, Nastya Murzabekova learned to spin the wheelchair around and is trying to operate it herself. Computer courses helped Ilya Virakhovsky learn web design and work at the Centre now. Alexander Afinets has won the regional singing contest, 'Two Stars'.

The Centre has also used the grant to use invataxi services. By the way, one romantic love story between a man named Asker and a girl named Alina is connected with this taxi service.

Asker communicates only using the sign language. As an invataxi driver, he often took to the Centre Alina, who, following an injury suffered at age 16, can no longer walk.

At present, these two young hearts, despite all challenges they face, are actively involved in the Centre’s activities. Having mastered carving, Alina teaches this craft to young visitors of the Centre, while Asker drives them to classes.

Alina and Asker are a happy loving couple, who, like no one else, understand what wonders support and faith in each other can work.

Photographer: Georgiy Shapovalov

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