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Disadvantaged people ask for the right to a just life

04 December 2010 / 12:12:00  GRReporter
4515 reads

Victoria Mindova


This year, Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens 'saw' many dissatisfied people from different organizations, community groups and factions, all of them demanding better quality of life, higher salaries, lower prices, more equitable working rights, etc. After 771 protests, strikes and rallies held since the beginning of the year on December third 2010 on this same square gathered the disabled people. Unions across the country held a rally in the center of the Greek capital to familiarize the public and government with the problems which they encounter every day. They prepared and sent to the government a list of suggestions that could make Greece more equitable for the people with disabilities.

Over eight thousand people gathered outside the parliament, and GRReporter was at the scene and spoke with the families of the disabled people about the problems which they face and the hopes they have about the future.

"We want to be put into practice the rights of people with disabilities, which have recently not been met by the state," said Despina Georgiadou from Drama, who is the chairman of the Association of parents in the education center for adults with disorders. She is the mother of two children with disability and her greatest concern is connected with her struggle to provide them a safe future, when she herself will not be among the living. Despina said that the economic crisis has seriously affected the people with disabilities and their families, and many of their allowances and privileges were curtailed. Their main requirement, however is related to the creation of separate living centers for people with slower development, for who there is no state policy and no one cares provided after the death of their parents.

Another request is associated with changes in the educational system for children with problems. "There should be an analytical program created by the Ministry of Education together with specialists in the field, which the teachers should strictly follow. Currently, every teacher in the special schools implements a standalone program that is not synchronized in a common policy on education." Despina Georgiadou stressed that special schools in the country should not have the function of parking places where children and people with disabilities spend a few hours, but to enable their development and education.

"Our children can not live alone, nor can they fight for their rights," said Effie Prokopaki chairman of the education center Estiya in Athens, which cares for the development of 90 children with mental retardation. The initiative is private and started in 1982 with five families with children with various problems who decided to set up an organization in order to give them a more secure future. "If we as parents fail to provide them with proper living conditions that are required because of their state, they will end up either in a mental hospital (where they don’t belong), or on the street," said Effie Prokopaki.

"After 28 years of activity we are now on the edge and our center is threatened with bankruptcy," explained the woman. So as not to be forced to dismiss staff they have decided to reduce salaries for all employees. Regardless of that however, money for the children in the education center is not enough. Funding of the initiative is from various sources, of which 26% come from municipal authorities, 13% come from the insurance funds of the children in the Centre and the remaining 61% must be collected from donations, exhibitions, bazaars. The center requires one million euros annually to support the programs for children and adults which help them adapt to some extent in society. Only in December 2010 the organization will participate in eight different events in order to raise money for the coming months. The largest project of the Center Estiya is the creation of housing shelters in which people with problems will have the opportunity to live and quality care will be given to them when their relatives leave them. Until present, one shelter like this already operates in the capital neighborhood of Melissa and a second one is under construction in the Psyhico quarter.

"Today we are here to face the indifference of the state towards the disabled people." This said Eugenia Zalyu who is the director of the Centre for adults with mild intellectual disabilities in Nausha. The special school houses more than 35 adults with mild mental abnormalities, and is entirely private initiative. "We have no subsidies from the state and we rely on the support of our fellow citizens and we organize exhibitions and bazaars, which also help us." All people over the age of 24 and in the workshop of the school have the opportunity to create and learn under the supervision of parents and specialists in the workshop of the school. About the rally at Syntagma Square the initiative of Nausha had gathered 50 people. "We understand and live with today's problems, but we want more attention to disadvantaged people. In our workshop we have people with minor disabilities who can be useful to society, but there is no policy on this matter."

Tags: Society Disadvataged people phisical disability
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