Over the last twenty years in Western countries people with disabilities have been increasingly integrated and included in all areas of life – including education, employment, and social activities. In countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU), including Belarus, people with disabilities remain largely excluded from these spheres and almost no services are available to them. JDC works through the Hesed Center, an organization that provides social services and community programs for the Jewish community, to address this lack of services for people with disabilities, improve their quality of life, and help them integrate into society.
The current project, which was conducted from March to June 2014, surveyed young adults with disabilities served by the Hesed Centers in the city of Minsk, the capital of Belarus and in the nearby city Babruysk. The focus on young adults ages 18-40 reflects the belief that this population has a relatively high potential for acquiring skills and integrating into society. The survey was commissioned by JDC-FSU with the support of the Ruderman Family Foundation. The goal was to describe the situation of Hesed clients with disabilities and to identify their main needs in order to inform the planning of appropriate services. As this data relates to people who are already receiving services from Hesed, their situation is probably better than that of other people with disabilities in Minsk and Babruysk who do not receive Hesed services.