Sitting close to his cousin, who is also his best friend and his main support, Andrei looks curiously into the book with the colorful drawings which is lying on their knees. Together they learn new and interesting things. With real sincerity, she shows Andrei the drawings, explaining the meaning and the name of every object, the sounds each animal or object makes. Many of them are familiar to Andrei and he can easily indicate them when his little teacher asks him. From the moment he returned home, Andrei changed a lot. He used to be reserved, always scared and dropping his eyes in the presence of an unknown person. Now the boy has transformed into a quiet, communicative child who learned to smile.
Andrei is a child with mental disabilities who spent five years in the Home for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities in Orhei. Because of his disabilities, he can’t talk and the family placed him in that institution with the hope that he would learn at least simple words. But as time passed, the family didn’t see any progress. Andrei’s situation got worse instead of being better; his grandmother said that he didn’t learn to communicate. After that, together with his father, they decided to take him home, because, according to them, he suffered from malnutrition in that institution.
When Andrei’s family decided to bring him home forever from the boarding house in Orhei, neither their modest living conditions nor the skeptical attitude of the neighbors could change their opinion. With support from the Community for All-Moldova Program, this family, where both the mother and son have mental disabilities, had the courage to stand up against financial and social difficulties in their decision to take Andrei back home.
“When we took him home from the boarding house, he was so thin, but he recovered quickly, because he ate the same food we ate, but in Orhei, who knows…”
“When we took him home from the boarding house, he was so thin, but he recovered quickly, because he ate the same food we ate, but in Orhei, who knows… Of course, sometimes it is very difficult for us. Other times it is easier, but the important thing is that Andrei is close to us and that we care about him,” says his grandmother.
Because of the precarious economic situation of families where one of their members has mental disability, they often have a negative image in the community. But Andrei’s family is respected in the community, and if they will need help, all the neighbors will help them immediately. The head of the family and the grandmother are hard-working and responsible people and do everything possible to offer Andrei and his mother a better life. Even being a pensioner, the grandmother always finds a job in the village and Andrei’s father periodically goes to Moscow to work.
But to ensure that the family has a permanent income, the Community for All-Moldova Program bought a cow for Andrei’s family. When they received the cow, the family received a bonus from the seller, a calf. Andrei’s grandmother says that this help is very important for the family because the milk, cheese, and cream they get from the cow ensure that there is food for the children.
The Community for All-Moldova Program also provided financial support to furnish Andrei’s room. A bed was purchased and the window and door were changed to improve heat conservation during the winter. In addition, clothes, shoes, food, and developmental games were bought for the child.
With the support of a psychologist and logopedist, Andrei and his mother are learning to communicate more efficiently and develop their ability to take care of themselves. The whole family is involved in Andrei’s and his mother’s development by helping them to learn life skills. Because of this support, Andrei and his mother show progress in development and communication. Every day, Andrei does gymnastics with his father and goes for a walk with him; with other family members, he studies books and helps his grandmother with housekeeping. The relationship between Andrei and his mother has improved. Now she helps him to get dressed and take care of his personal hygiene. She also helps him continue to develop his skills.
With the support of the specialist from the Community for All-Moldova Program, Andrei learned how to take photographs, along with other children and youth with mental disabilities. He took many photographs of his family and the yard. The best of them were displayed with the photographs of other children and youth within a special exhibition, in the hall of the Ministry of Social Protection, Family and Child.
The time Andrei and his family spent together changed the family’s vision about children with mental disabilities. Children have to grow in families and if they have a disability, they need more attention and support to grow and develop. This is the message Andrei’s family and relatives want to share with all parents who sent or who intend to send their children to a boarding house.