The work that Loza Foundation carries out coupled with the article in the Swedish Newspaper Göteborgs-Posten was a real eye-opener for the Minister of Social Welfare.
The correspondent trip to Institution Demir Kapija in North Macedonia turned into a series of articles in Göteborgs-Posten, which highlighted poor conditions and invoked strong reactions not least within Macedonian authorities that have now decided that the institution is to be refurbished immediately.
“This is proof that our work really does make a difference”, says Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation.
In January 2019, Sabina Grubbeson travelled to North Macedonia with a reporter team from Göteborgs-Posten with an aim of telling the rest of the world about the unbelievable deprivation that the disabled people at the institution in Demir Kapija has to cope with. The result is the article series called “This is where the weakest in Europe live in deprivation“, which has attracted a lot of attention and is nominated to Wendelapriset 2019 (the Wendela award) for the best social report of the year.
The Macedonian authorities are reacting too. Minister of Social Welfare, Mila Carovska, tells Göteborgs-Posten that the series of articles was a definite eye-opener and that they will start renovation work straight away, tackling the toilets, damaged flooring, installing proper lighting as well as repairing internal and external walls.
Sabina Grubbeson, founder of Loza Foundation, is both pleased with and relieved by this decision.
“This will improve the living conditions considerably for these people. It has been difficult for us to help as the needs have been vast and we have not been given permission to renovate. The new situation will give us breathing space and allow us to take care of the most pressing needs”, she explains.
The lack of fully-functioning toilets has meant that the residents at the institution have relieved themselves on the floor, in the dorms and stairwells.
“Refurbishing floors, walls, doors and windows will make it easier to keep the institution clean. There will not be a constant draught and the heat will remain inside the building during the winter. Making the electric installations secure and putting up lighting will also drastically improve the situation for both residents and staff members. In the past, they have had problems with ceiling fires and water leakage that has travelled down electric wires and ended up inside the fuse box.”
The renovation work is supposed to be finished in the latter part of 2019.
Sabina clarifies: “Thanks to the renovations, we will now be able to provide the residents with clothes and personal hygiene articles in an environment and not be afraid they will be ruined in the poor conditions. The donated items will last and will work. Refurbishing the institution will also have a positive impact on the staff. They will be able to work in more humane conditions, which in turn will have a ripple effect when it comes to how they care and treat the residents.”
In a couple of weeks, Loza Foundations plans to deliver individual lifts to the institution at Demir Kapija. Right now it takes two, sometimes three people to get a resident out of bed, which means many of the individuals living at the institution have never even made it out of bed.
“We want to make this work so that residents, despite disabilities, will have freedom. I have questioned why the state does not supply lifts to the institution, but I have not been given any answers. The problem is most probably linked to administrational issues, e.g. that such a purchase ends up between the separate jurisdictions of two ministers, in this case, the Social Ministry and the Ministry for Health and Healthcare, and that no one has put their foot down in this matter. All too often, this is where the problem arises; someone has to defend the human rights and highlight the needs of the people that are unable to defend and stand up for themselves. ”
The idea is also to change one or two rooms where the sole focus will be rehabilitation.
“We have found the residents and the staff to have a need to arrange their day around something, to do something together which inspires everyone to treat each other with caring warmth. I hope this will lead to more positivity and inspiration.”
The renovation of Institution Demir Kapija will enable Loza to improve the residents’ living conditions this year, rather than having to wait. That said, the foundation still needs further donations in order to give everyone the help they need.
“We rely on contributions and donations to maintain our aid work. I, therefore, want to encourage everyone, individuals as well as companies, to sign up for our monthly donation package. A small sum of money every month might not make all that much of a difference for us in a welfare state, but for a person in North Macedonia, it could literally mean the world”, says Sabina Grubbeson.
The news of the refurbishment at Demir Kapija gives Loza Foundation new strength and energy to carry on defending the basic, human rights of individuals at institutions and orphanages in regions such as North Macedonia, Bosnia and other countries in Europe.
“This proves that you can change the world by creating support, lobbying and strengthening the belief that every single one of us can impact and improve the lives of other humans if we stick together. I am very impressed by Evalis Björk and photographer Robin Aron at Göteborgs-Posten, who spoke up for the individuals that do not have a voice and conveyed the situation of the residents at Demir Kapija with such empathy.”