United in Diversity (UiD) is a very young NGO established and supported by IB-Behindertehilfe in 2010.
Organisation's purpose is the promotion of social inclusion, particularly for people with disabilities, developing awareness on the respect of fundamental rights and promotion of these values of an open, multi-ethnic, tolerant and democratic society, the establishment of international dialogue between PWD on the basis of mutual respect of differences, participatory democracy, development of civic activism at the local level and national level and promotion of mobility among PWD, regardless of the differences between them.
UiD consists of about 40 members, volunteers, family members of persons with disabilities, and experts from the field of special education and rehabilitation PWD. The organisation is currently implementing the project "Establishing info-service offices and advisory body to help people with mental, psychological and multiple disabilities in Nis, Serbia" in cooperation with the IB-Behindertenhilfe as leading partner.
UiD works together with the humanitarian organisation Children's Heart (CH) which unlike us working at the national level. CH helps people with disabilities, their families and professionals in Serbia by providing professional support with the vision of eliminating prejudice and inciting social inclusion of PWD into the society. For years, they have been partners of the Ministry of Social Affairs, UNICEF, and many local foundations and donors (private and public companies). They are recognizable by their programs “School of Life” and “School of Life Skills”, as a program being implemented over 11 years, and that includes students of all ages and foregrounds the principle of lifelong learning.
This approach to people with disabilities through education is transferred to employees in schools, institutions, social services, etc., on which our organisation also participated. These programs have trained 2.036 PWDs and 323 experts were trained for the implementation of the program, which is accredited by the Serbian Institute for Social Protection. In SE Serbia PWDs are administered and nourished in extreme poverty. They have no lobby, 80 % of the babies and toddlers are locked away by their parents, abandoned or placed in a big institution, one of these big institutions is located about 40 km from the city of Nis.
The abandoning is due to economic misery, but also due to the lack of social acceptance for PWDs. In addition, the government in Belgrade has the tendency to accommodate people with disabilities centrally – far away from their home town. In many cases the existing institutions have a lack of expert personnel and know-how.
So far, there are no support and consulting services provided by the government, and PWDs have no opportunity to take part in activities in the frame of a day structuring or, a sheltered work-shop or a day care centre. This is why IB-Behindertenhilfe and UiD decided to tackle a first common project. UiD will organise during the project a workshop in Serbia in Cooperation with Austria and France.