Reporting in from Sheki, a city in northwest Azerbaijan, in the southern part of the Caucasus mountains.
It is incredible that in completely different cultures and completely different parts of the world, one thing that remains constant is that people love their children and families (mostly mothers) will do extraordinary things for them.
We visited a brand new Rehabilitation facility that was recently built by the government here. It was impressive – a kind of residential campus program that trains people in vocation. People apply for 3-6 month stays. Most of the people we saw were physically handicapped and had immense artistic or other talent. We also saw the project done by the woman who said Alex inspired her. She worked for a government funded facility that was beautiful. She had the support of the Paralympic committee to start a National Paralympic Bocce team. In the photo I’m with Zarina, the woman who created the project, Christy, a Professor from Springfield College that I’m traveling with, and the first and second place National Champions in Bocci.
The most amazing thing at this place was when Nate, a person in our group who works for Access Sports in Boston, took a man out of his wheelchair and helped him walk the length of the gym. The man told us that when he joined the Bocci team, it was the first time he had been out of his house in 28 years. It was also the first time he’d walked more than a few steps. (you can see Nate in the background of this photo taking a photo with the man)
Today we visited a Rehabilitation Center for children with disabilities in a neighboring city. Although there was only one small room, it was beautifully decorated and the teacher was extraordinary. Because it is the only center for five cities, space is a big challenge for them. They serve 450 children in one small room. In order to do this, they are open 8 hours per day and the group of kids change each hour. Each group can come for one hour each week. For most of them, it is their only schooling. We got to meet them and exchanged information, so hopefully we can help with curriculum and other information and support in the future.