The Russian Republic of Chuvashia prides itself on its wide range of social programs, putting a lot of effort into caring for people with different physical abilities.
The region brings more and more social services to various projects, funded by the federal government, and helps its disabled citizens in the hope of improving the standards of living in the republic.
The Institute of Health Care takes part in the federal program to bring European medical practices to more parts of Russia. So, Chuvashia is able to offer services free of charge. Thanks to developments in modern medicine, Chuvashia has been able to do something that many places of Russia have been unable to do. For example, Chuvashia’s physicians are just as capable of saving the lives of babies born prematurely or underweight as anywhere else.
There are also some communities that try to help disabled children. For example, the Chuvashian Puppet Theatre brings their show to the homes of infants for free.
Yury Filipov, actor, thinks that these performances can give the children something that nature did not give them. “We can also help them,” he added.
Olga Mashenseva, mother of Lena, says, “Lena enjoys guests. She looks forward to seeing the fairytale. And I’m thankful that they established this project and we hope that they will continue visiting us.”
Meanwhile, for the older generations, Chuvashia is working to better serve disabled adults too. However, as in most parts of Russia, progress is slow.Some people think there is still a long way to go for helping the disabled, regardless of the steps the government has already taken to improve their quality of life.
Elena Konovalova, local resident, complains: “My neighbor is a handicapped person, so she went to kindergarten, but what next? Nothing, because nobody will take her to school, because we don’t have special schools for such people. So, she’s staying at home, she can’t go out and her parents take care of her. But what will happen if her parents die?”
Yury Stepanov, physically challenged, told RT, “After I suffered from trauma, I was bedridden for one-and-a-half years at home. Then I decided to get involved with handicapped sports.”
That decision eventually led him to the sports center, where people of various disabilities come together. Yury chose badminton and became the first handicapped person to play professionally in Russia. Now he is a four-time Russian champion and won a silver medal at a European competition.
“Fund of Chuvashia” is another charitable organization that hopes to improve people’s lives in the region.
“Students of any race, gender or age can come and join us at any time. This organization gives us a great opportunity to raise social standards and conditions for a healthy way of life,” says volunteer Katerina Kapitonova.
Speaking about the difference between generations and how they take care of those who need it, Lyudmila Lobzina, professor at Chuvash State University, said that the generation who grew up in Soviet times was taught to set common interests before personal ones.
“Unfortunately, nowadays things have changed… The younger generation sets their personal interests before common ones. They are not so interested in what is happening around them. We fully understand that this gap has roots in the current economic situation in the country and the moral standards that come along with the relationship with money. As teachers we see it as a primarily task to breach this gap.”
Volunteers also work in Chuvashia in the educational sphere. Lenore Wade, English teacher and volunteer, says: “We go with Russian teachers to villages to help teachers learn new ways to teach English, give them some resources.”
“New equipment, furniture and sports facilities are being installed in local schools to modernize the education process,” said school teacher Natalya Generalova.