"This is where the kitchen will be, and the hallway; over here I'm going to put a TV, a bed, a wardrobe, a couch where I will rest, and this here will be the bathroom," Ion shows us with pride.
After spending almost 17 years at the Home for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities in Orhei, Ion has returned to his home village with the help of his relatives. And now with their help, as well as that of the Community for All-Moldova Program, he is building himself a house.
Ion Botnari is 27 years old and is one of more than 300 boys and young men at the Home for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities in Orhei who, with the support of his family, relatives, and the community, will be able to lead a normal life in a normal community.
"I didn't want to end up there (in Orhei). They should've sent me to a different school, a healthier one, and maybe there I would've learned how to read and write," says Ion, who was placed in the institution after both of his parents passed away. Now that he's back home, he hopes to finish building his new home as soon as possible, so that he can start a new life. "There are a lot of guys like me at Orhei," he says, "There's just no one to take them home – they have no parents."
"We have decided to bring Ion back to the village, because the conditions at Orhei were not appropriate for his level of intellectual development and he doesn't deserve to be there. We want to help him lead a normal life, because he is fully capable of taking care of himself," says Rodica Buzila, Ion's guardian.
Ion's home is being built on the piece of land that used to belong to his parents. The young man is working on the house along with his relatives, the Buzila family, and two other workers who are helping him. The construction materials were provided by the Community for All-Moldova Program.
His parents' house is too old and run down to be repaired anymore. "It will serve well as a wood deposit," says Ion, who is thinking like a true homeowner. "Next year I'll be able to plant some tomatoes, if I make it till then in good health. And that's not all. I want to dig a well and buy all the necessary tools to have around the house: an axe, a saw, a sawmill." He knows that he needs money in order to purchase all those things and he's prepared to work in order to earn it.
Ion will live alone in his own house and will be solely responsible for his household, although at first he will be supported and guided by his relatives, as well as by the specialists from the Community for All-Moldova Program. This will help him adopt new ways of life and be prepared to face new challenges.
"Ion can sew shoes. He knows how to look after animals, and milk goats," says Rodica Buzila, "If he is in a healthy environment, and if we teach him well, I think he will be able to lead an independent life."
The Community for All-Moldova Program is implemented by Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association, in association with the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family, with the financial support of the Open Society Foundations - Mental Health Initiative and the Soros Foundation - Moldova.
The scope of the project is to contribute to the social inclusion of people with mental disabilities through access to high quality social community assistance and through technical assistance from the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family to develop the legislative framework to regulate these services.
Many children and teenagers deinstitutionalized from the Home for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities in Orhei or at risk of being placed in this institution benefit from the support of this project. The support offered includes: social assistance, psychotherapeutic counseling, medical assistance, pedagogical support included in school, assistance regarding access to other community services, family support regarding the improvement of the child's welfare (arranging the child's personal belongings in his room, purchasing clothes and necessary equipment, assistance with work placement, etc.).