Ukraine: Since 1 March 2004, the Sonnenhof initiative is working with children with special needs under the umbrella of the private Michael Waldorf School in Kiev. Despite many political and financial obstacles, 16 children currently attend the school where they participate in various therapies and receive the personal attention they need. This means receiving one-to-one care from the remedial educators.
“There are no such children in Kiev!” again and again this the answer one gets from authorities regarding the situation for children with disabilities in Ukraine. And as it turns out it actually is a challenge to find these people. They either live in state institutions under distressing circumstances or they live a miserable life at home that is governed by solitude not only for themselves but also for their whole family. Unfortunately, being born with a disability, can lead to exclusion from society because the government regards people with special need as “non-educable”, even today. Therefore, offering curative education opportunities for those people is incredibly important even though the movement is still very young and small.
In 2003, six students founded the Association for Curative Education “Sonnenhof”. Their aim was to bring the ideas of Anthroposophic curative education to Ukraine and make its impact on people with disabilities a reality. One of the main principles for their facility was to be open to all people with special needs, regardless of the financial background they came from. However, they were forbidden to join the public school system. As a result there was only the possibility of opening a private initiative. The absence of other curative education facilities in Ukraine called for pioneering work in all areas, so it was a great relief to finally be able to open in 2004 as a curative educational wing of the Michael School.
The demand for admissions to the kindergarten group and the classes is high. But the possibilities of extending the "Sonnenhof" are limited and the available space is already exhausted. The difficult financial situation and the lack of government support are obstacles that stand in the way of any major changes. Because many parents are not able to pay the school fees, the initiative is very interested in sponsorship opportunities since even the financially better-off parents' cannot contribute as much as would be needed. Fortunately there are friends from abroad, who support the "Sonnenhof" and make it at least a little bit easier for the initiative to continue with their valuable work.
The commitment of the employees is still unimpaired. While struggling to raise public awareness for curative education, another work area is already in the planning phase. The idea is to build up a social therapeutic village community for people with special needs, since the first graduates will require further training opportunities.