Korczak in Kyrgyzstan
A travel report by Theo Cappon
From 22 of
August till 6 of September, we visited our Korczak
friends in Kyrgyzstan.
Mrs Bermet Baryktabasova and her colleague Olga
Kazarina, both pediatricians, introduced us to people
who work with children at risk. The pedagogical
principles of Janusz Korczak underlay their approach
It is a
non-government organisation working with street
children in Bishkek. The main strategy is focussed on:
— Lobbying for the
protection of the rights of street children
— Working with the mass media to present fuller information and suggest solutions
— Allowing the children and the parents to be heard-by giving them a voice in civil society.
— Providing basic services and developing alternatives
The Centre has
created a network of programs aimed at supporting these
children in the basic aspects of their lives. There is
a food program (daily free and nutritious meals for 200
working children), a shelter program (providing
temporal shelter for 30 homeless children), independent
living program (they learn how to find a job and how to
deal with money), medical program (to improve the
health of street children), vocational skills program
(to teach the children simple skills of taking care of
themselves, repairing clothes, working with computer,
etc.), education (replacement at schools or informal
education by the social workers), participation
(involving the target group in analyzing their
situation to make them more self-reliant and
have attended seminars, trainings and conferences in
Geneva, Stockholm, Boechara and Saint Petersburg. While
the CPC Centre learns from international experiences,
it also seeks to inform the world about the Kyrgyzstan
and the issues graced here.
meeting and visit, Bermet took us to the
Rehabilitation Center‘s Umut-Nadjeshda”.
If parents in
Kyrgyzstan are confronted with the birth of a disabled
child a heavy fate is in front of them. These children
find themselves isolated from the community and a few
people are interested in their fate. Many disabled
children are admitted as retarded and all kindergartens
or schools close their doors to them. It was
Karla-Maria Schälike, living in Kyrgyzstan, but a
native German woman, started this Centre where mental
and physically disabled children with help of adults,
sign, draw, study, work and have fun as all children in
the world do.
The Nadjeshda Children’s Center is a home for 60 children and teenagers, aged between 2 and 21 years. They are regarded as “worthless, discarded children”. They work with these children using therapeutic pedagogical methods, including elements of the Waldorf pedagogy and that of Janusz Korczak. The result is that with time around half of the “uneducable” are able to move into the state institutions.
Today the Center consists of:
• a new school building for the classes, 2.4.7.and 10, together with therapy rooms
• the Gerhard Bender House with various workshops rooms
• an integrative kindergarten
• the Janusz Korczak Center for Social Therapy
• a holiday house on the Lake Issyk Kul
The centre sees
itself as a large family. With its first concern the
well being of the children and those near to them
severe and multiply disabled teenagers work in
the Janusz Korczak
healthy teenagers help as well; all came to the
Nadjeshda Center several years ago as abandoned
children, with almost no experiences at school. At
the moment the director of the Janusz Korczak Center
is edeavoring to bring old or socially isolated
people into the work of the Centre.
The Director of
the Centre, Mr Igor Schälike, told me that they
try to find every month 4.000 $ to continue this
work, because there is no help for these children by
the Kyrgys government*.
I was very much
impressed by the approach of the Center and the warm
and friendly atmosphere. We had a meeting of several
hours with all the workers and volunteers in the
Center. We focused on the pedagogical idea’s of Janusz
Korczak and the relevance of these idea’s for the daily
life in the Nadjeshda Center.
Bishkek Olga Okulitch Kazarina and Aigul Usubalieva
showed us the New Library for children. It is a
wonderful Centre where children and youngster can loan
all kinds of books and get information in the
computer-center. It is a meeting-point for adults and
children too; performances, lectures, seminars and many
courses for youth and adults.
We were lucky to see a nice expositions of paintings and drawings, made by children.
Our visit to Kyrgyzstan remains stamped on our memory as a meeting with Korczak friends who invest in children with all their hearts.
Amsterdam 2006, Nov 17
that reason I passed his call: Please let us know if
you can contribute money or other help for the children
address: “info ((AT)) nadjeshda.org"