Wednesday, November 14, 2007

He needs your help.

Kulina Children’s Institution is located 3 hours drive from Belgrade, at the top of a narrow, mountainous road, barely accessible in winter months. 580 babies, children and adults live in this remote facility, which is woefully understaffed. According to the director, all have developmental disabilities or “mental disabilities” and some have physical disabilities as well.

Nurses told MDRI that 250 children and adults “cannot leave their beds and are totally immobile” and another 250 who are mobile are not toilet trained. In the absence of any standards, some children and adults are subject to a life-time of restraints. Ward staff at most institutions report that everyone is taken out of restraints now and then. As the chief nurse explained at Kulina, staff are overwhelmed and have no choice but to continue to tie down the same “difficult” patients over and over again.

MDRI investigators found that many children and adults permanently restrained at Kulina were referred to as “auto-aggressive” or self- injuring. The problem of self-abuse is reportedly a problem with 40% of all of those living in Kulina and occurs at an even higher rate with children. Self-abuse is a well known phenomenon which occurs when there is a lack of human contact or stimulation. Loving attention is the best way to prevent self- abusive behaviors, but once this practice develops specialized treatment is necessary. 8 Without such treatment, abuse “may cause permanent and disabling tissue damage and may sometimes be lifethreatening.
For example, severe head banging or hitting may lead to cuts, bleeding, infection,
retinal detachment, and blindness.”9

I walked into one room after another, a ward for children 4 to 7 years old. It
was the middle of the day and children were confined to their cribs. There was
no staff in any of the rooms, no toys, no music – nothing. One boy with Downs
Syndrome was hitting his head over and over against the metal crib. Another
was tied to the crib in 4 point restraint and still another, with a deep gash on his
ear, had his arms tied to the side of the crib – MDRI investigator
MDRI found several children tied into chairs. In one room, devoid of any staff and filled with toddlers all in cribs, a lone child sat crying, tied to a chair in the corner. In still another room, two small boys were tied at the ir wrists and waists into chairs. One of them had bandages over his ears. According to staff, he had tried to rip his own ears off. Experts in the field of disability agree that hitting, scratching and biting oneself is a reaction to mind-numbing boredom and lack
of age appropriate stimulation and human contact.

So, what do we do? How do we turn our backs and NOT try to help? Continue reading... On the following link, there is information about an International attempt to give more rights to those with disabilities. Globally, there are millions of disabled people out there, suffering from a lack of laws to protect them. On the right side of that page is a wat to blog the information, several petitions and other ways to help.

Why do we need the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)?

People with disabilities worked with the United Nations to develop a treaty to protect their human and civil rights. The CRPD bars discrimination on the basis of disability, and requires nations that ratify the treaty to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are extended and enforced “on an equal basis” with the rights of people without disabilities.

Human rights treaties, also known as conventions, put into words commonly agreed upon human rights shared by human beings around the world. Most treaties are developed through the United Nations and other international bodies.

For countries that sign and ratify them, conventions become legally binding international law. Some apply to all human beings while others focus on the rights of specific populations such as women, children, or refugees.

The existing core human rights treaties are rarely used to enforce the human rights of people with disabilities. They don’t adequately address the physical, social, cultural, economic and legal barriers to inclusion of, and participation by, people with disabilities in all aspects of life.

We can also move now to get help for these children and adults in this story.


Embassy in Washington, D.C.
2134 Kalorama Road
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-0333
Fax: (202) 332-3933. .

Consulate General in Chicago
201 East Ohio St., Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Tel: (312) 670-6707
Fax (312) 670-6787
Email at .

DO something.


Meredith said...


Megan's got 47 said...

Michelle, this just makes me sick. I so want to help in making this better. I mean I know we can help the future of other kids but what happens to those already effected by this lack of contact? The one's who injure themselves? Oh god, I can't type anymore because the thoughts going through my head are tearing me apart.
What should we do with the contact info? Call, write, which is better?

Michelle said...

I am working on some emails. I know we cant save them all. I KNOW that, and it kills me. But you CAN blog about it, put pressure on them to change how these kids are treated. Imagine if enough of us blogged, spread the word?
Someday, I want to take Ciarra and some other kids on a tour in places such as these, and SHOW them the possibilities. Love, caring, some attention....these children do not need to live their lives this way. :(

Shannon **Gabi's Mom** said...

I read this on your blog last night, and my thoughts have been haunted with these visions since. How horribe. Everytime my baby plays, I think how desperate a child must be for love, attention, and activity to try to rip their ears off. Makes me want to scream and cry.

On a better note, I think your a "Wonder Woman" and I awarded you with it! Come check it out on my blog today.