Auction Raises Money for Montessori Room for Disabled Children

DaraASTANA – The Dara Foundation, which supports children from vulnerable groups, held a charity auction with partner Has Sanat Gallery on Dec. 12. The auction raised enough money to equip and train teachers for a Montessori room at the centre for disabled children the foundation helped open in Astana in September.

“We hope to get enough money to create a Montessori room in the centre for disabled children. … The Dara Foundation helped to refurbish the centre, to get all the necessary equipment and literature. [The only thing missing] is the Montessori room,” said Madina Bakiyeva, director of the Dara Foundation said at the event. “We will provide equipment and our partner centre … in Almaty agreed to teach the teachers from this centre for disabled children how to work in the Montessori style.”

For sale at the auction were clothes by different Kazakh designers as well as paintings donated by famous Kazakh painters, including one donated by Kazakh artist Leyla Mahat. Also on display was artwork by some of the children with disabilities supported by Dara’s programmes.

The children whose work was displayed are mostly from Astana’s School No. 65, where Dara is implementing a project funded by the Embassy of Finland to promote inclusive education. “We’ve organised an inclusive art studio, which means children with disabilities and without are working together. And also we have a theatre studio in the same school, also for children with disabilities and without. They are learning how to make art.”

School No. 65 is a pilot inclusive school, and Dara works with it in a number of ways. “[School No. 65 is] the only school that provides inclusive education, where disabled children can sit in the same classroom as [children without disabilities],” said Bakiyeva. “We purchased special equipment—because mainly there are deaf children in that school – so we bought this modern equipment that will help deaf children who have implants listen to the teacher, so background sounds don’t interfere. We’ve already installed the system in the school and the deaf children are doing very well.”

Astana’s Has Sanat Gallery has paintings by well-known Kazakh artists as well as up-and-coming talent. It also hosts temporary exhibits of Kazakh and foreign artists. “The Has Sanat Gallery is our partner gallery, they help us organise different events with them, mainly fundraising events,” said Bakiyeva.

This was Dara’s first auction fundraiser in Astana; they have held others in Almaty. The fundraiser was success, Bakiyeva confirmed later, raising enough money to outfit the Montessori room and train its teachers.

The Dara Foundation will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. “We work with institutions mainly: we work with schools, we work with orphanages, we work with centres for disabled children. We try to help children to get high quality services within those institutions. We help with equipment, we help with knowledge, we help with training those institutions. So as many children as those institutions serve, Dara serves,” said Bakiyeva.