An official presentation gave the international charity project “Start Living!” the green light on Friday, August 21st, 2015. The project is supposed to help disabled children in the Siberian city Noyabrsk. The project initiated by Düsseldorf’s integration association AVP e.V. and the German-Russian Friendship Society Düsseldorf-Jamal e.V. was presented to the public in the Bilker Arkaden’s citizens’ hall.
In many Siberian cities children that are bound to a wheelchair due to their disability cannot go to school, receive medical treatment or actively participate in life. Many of them are forced to spend the whole day at home with their parents. The problem is that there is no transportation system to bring disabled children to school, medical specialists or recreational activities. Thus, it is impossible for those children to claim their right to education, receive appropriate medical treatment and make friends in their environment. “Start Living!” wants to help those children in the city of Noyabrsk. In order to do so, money from donations will be used to buy a bus that will be re-modeled for the transportation of wheelchairs and can then be used to transport disabled children. The plan is to drive the bus 5.531 km to the city in Siberia in May 2016.
During the opening celebration Sylvia Pantel, CDU-member of the Bundestag, praised the project’s name and content and emphasized her relationship to Russia. AVP e.V.’s managing director Sergej Aruin stressed that the project was not political. Being asked why a German project in Russia was planned despite current tensions between the countries he answered that “it is not about borders but about offering help where people need it.”
After the presentation, many questions were asked and answered in a panel discussion with AVP e.V. employees and CDU councilor Andre Simon. This discussion showed the intention to establish a long-term cooperation with Noyabrsk and the local organization Taganaj, which will take care of the transportation and the bus’s maintenance. The project runs on donations, which can be made on www.betterplace.org. Several other fund-raising campaigns are planned and will be made public on the AVP website.