The Market Project, in tandem with a Care Partner in Chernihiv, Ukraine, is focusing on the needs of men and women impacted by disability – those who are often “ hidden” in institutions and homes. This population has had limited access to means of supporting themselves.
In Ukraine, there are an estimated 2.7 million individuals living with disabilities and sadly institutionalization is commonplace. This is how one report describes the situation:
Parents who attempt to keep their children with disabilities at home face enormous obstacles. Most schools will not accept children with intellectual disabilities. In addition to limited educational and vocational opportunities for children, the lack of schools creates great economic pressures on families who must stay home with their children. Except for the very few families that can exist on one income, parents of children with disabilities are forced to place their children in institutions. [No Way Home, Disability Rights International]
Independent living skills create hope
For many people with disabilities, independent living is a goal. However, this goal is unreachable without employment.
Because there are minimal supports for adults with disabilities in Ukrainian society, it is assumed that children with disabilities will remain in institutional care for a lifetime. It can be difficult to motivate children with disabilities or their caregivers to develop independent living skills – when children will never have a chance to use these skills. [No Way Home, Disability Rights International]
Meaningful work has a significant impact on individuals living with disabilities. Not only does gainful employment improve their mental and emotional health, but it makes the dream of independent living a reality. Through The Market Project, men, women, and working-age youth with disabilities will receive job-specific training, in an emotionally and physically safe community. The experience is transformative and strengthens the agency of those whom we will employ in the enterprise we launch.
In 2017, we completed the market research for a value-added food business. “Fry shack” mobile kiosks will offer a variety of French fry dishes using locally harvested potatoes and natural ingredients for the toppings. “Fry shack” offerings will include options from classic fries served in a cone to specialty fries loaded with flavorful meat and vegetable toppings. This enterprise makes good business sense for several reasons. Ukraine is home to a wide variety of potatoes. Ukraine also produces an abundance of sunflower oil, a healthy option that is a great choice for frying due to its high smoke point. The quality of the fries at the “fry shack” will far exceed the typical fare offered by other local street vendors.