Inspiring women: Social project for children with mental disabilities

Psychological rehabilitation of children is only a first step on the way to a comfortable and happy life of our special children

Today we want to share the unique story of Olena Abayeva from Donetsk. Olena, her husband and their two children left their hometown Donetsk and moved to Sumy. Like many other internally displaced persons, she thought that it would not be for long and the family would be able to return home soon. Unfortunately, she faced yet another challenge – her younger son was diagnosed with autism.






“You know, for many people, 8th of March is associated with the day of spring and flowers. And for me, this is first and foremost a reason to be grateful to women activists for the opportunity to  exercise their rights. Because of this right to be myself, to choose, to work, to set ambitious goals, I was able to open a social project “Specialized Center for Children with Disabilities “Happy Children”, Olena shared her thoughts.

Olena Abayeva is not only head of the non-profit organization of social and psychological rehabilitation center, but she is also a practicing specialist Tomatis Développement S.A., psychologist, PhD, pre-school and school teacher for children with special needs in education.

“Psychological rehabilitation of children is only a first step on the way to a comfortable and happy life of our special children. Everyone deserves equal right and opportunities in life, and we hope that the confidence in themselves that we help to develop will help them in the future”, – Olena Abayeva, Head of the Centre.





Before the forced displacement, Olena and her family were active citizens and participated in various social projects in Donetsk. As a professional teacher for children with mental disabilities with an international certificate, Olena decided to help her own child and to provide support to other families, especially IDPs with the same needs. Being aware of all the difficulties faced by IDPs, especially with regard to housing and employment, which additionally requires a large amount of funds for the rehabilitation of children with special needs, it was decided to launch the social rehabilitation center project.

This social project not only helps IDP children in Sumska oblast, but also families from other oblasts of Ukraine. Even citizens of Belarus apply for services.

In 2017 UNHCR, as part of its Rapid Response Projects supported the renovation and basic equipment of this unique space for children.