BRIDGE FOR REACHING THE FORGOTTEN SMILES STRENGTHENING THE TURKISH ROMANIAN CIVIL SOCIETY DIALOGUE
Background Information : People with mental disabilities are among the most vulnerable to degrading treatment, discrimination and abuse throughout the region. Numerous mentally challenged individuals are effectively stranded in private homes with overburdened and often untrained family members, excluded needlessly from participation in mainstream social life. The general public is largely unaware of the mentally disabled. And to the extent they are aware, pervasive and negative stereotypes reinforce biased justifications for isolation and mistreatment. Public ignorance and intolerance are reflected in the absence of mental disability issues from the agendas of most mainstream organizations. Mentally disabled people sometimes are reportedly barred by statute from public employment, and suffer discrimination in all spheres of employment, even though, with appropriate training and resource allocations, many such persons could work productively.
Project Summary : The “Bridge for reaching the forgotten smiles” project is a partnership project between IBC – International Blue Crescent Relief and Development Foundation, its Blue Crescent Special Education and Rehabilitation Center for Mentally Challenged and two Romanian NGOs working in the fields of mental health and rehabilitation for the mentally challenged / disabled: Estuar Foundation and Esperando Association. Through a series of events held in Turkey (workshop, seminar, crafts exhibition) as well as awareness raising, information exchange and networking activities, the project aims at facilitating the cooperation between NGOs working in the field of supporting the mentally challenged in Turkey and Romania, at influencing the policies and their proper implementation, at European standards, in the field, as well as creating a basis for future partnerships in the field of mentally challenged.
Project Goal: To raise awareness over the European integration aspects and policy alignments regarding the work on the mentally challenged / disabled individuals and to stimulate the dialogue between the civil society organizations.
• 16 trainers of IBC Rehabilitation Center and 12 members of the partner NGOs from Romania , attending the workshop;
• 100 participants of the Seminar (NGO workers, representatives of institutions working on mental health in Turkey , mentally challenged individuals and their parents);
• 400 individuals / NGOs / institutions members of the Network's e.group;
• Approx. 200 NGOs and private & public institutions working with disabled, in Romania, Turkey and other European countries, members of the Network;
• NGOs in Turkey and Romania working in the field of mentally challenged;
• Mentally challenged individuals attending the Rehabilitation Centers of the partner organizations;
• 1000 organizations received the brochure of the Project;
I. A Partnership Contract was agreed upon and signed between the 3 partner NGOs and a work plan was designed and agreed upon. Information letters of the project were disseminated to different stakeholders in Romania and Turkey .
II. In the framework of creating a Civil Society Network for the Support of the Mentally Challenged , adata basis was created by the Turkish and Romanian partners and published on line on the e.group of the Project, at the link: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mentaldisability/database , The data basis consists of NGOs and institutions dealing (only) with mentally challenged individuals.. Presently, the data basis contains 354 entries for Turkey , 61 for Romania and 9 international organizations working in the field of mentally challenged. As a tool of the Network, an e.group was founded to gather individuals and organizations / institutions working in the field of mentally challenged in Turkey , Romania and international recognized organizations. The e.group is an interactive online platform of the Network, having now 400 members and standing under the Category of “Health Care”, on the following link:http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mentaldisability/