From right to left: Mikhal Friedman, Uri Kanner, Mayor Nir Barkat, Kalman Samuels, Avi Samuels .
(photo credit: SHALVA)
Israeli non-profit organization Shalva announced Sunday the launch of a partnership with the Russian Jewish Congress to develop programs for children with disabilities in areas of Russia that are lacking infrastructure.
“We see it as our obligation not only to help the children and families in our direct care, but also to make a difference in the way the world understands, cares for and embraces disability,” said Kalman Samuels, founder and president of Shalva. “It has been an honor to work with the Russian Jewish Congress to advance this mission.”
A memorandum of cooperation was officially signed during a gala dinner at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow ahead of Rosh Hashana hosted by international businessman and philanthropist Mikhail Fridman attended by some 500 leaders of the Russian Jewish community, as well as Israeli guests of honor including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Olympic medalist Ori Sasson.
Shalva, which has been operating out of Jerusalem for more than 28 years, provides a variety of therapeutic, educational, recreational, sport and wellness services, as well as family support to 2,000 children with disabilities and their families.
The work of the Russian Jewish Congress includes efforts to better disability services in the country’s large cities. It collaborates with both Jewish and non-Jewish charitable funds to improve the qualifications of disability care providers.
According to senior executives of the Congress, Russia’s infrastructure for providing disability services is sorely lacking, especially in the areas of early intervention and family support, despite the presence of disability care in public policy.
The Congress, which currently serves 600 children with disabilities, hopes to expand its scope of services across the country with its new partnership with Shalva.
“Shalva’s pioneering program development and disability research has effectively changed the standards of disability care in Israel and serves as a model to other countries, like Russia, in spearheading similar advancements within their own cultures and social services systems,” said Yan Piskunov, chief of the Russian Jewish Congress’s board of trustees and an active member of Shalva’s board.
The partnership resulted from a number of site visits by leading Russian disability professionals to the Shalva National Center in Jerusalem to learn various therapy models and program methodologies. The relationship will continue with the guided implementation of these programs in Russia’s disability-care institutions.