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Growing up with a disability is not easy and being parents of such children presents many challenges. With this in mind, Star of Hope organized camps both in Latvia and Romania for disabled children and their families. The camps have been done in the past on a regular basis.

At this week's camp in Latvia, our Maria Presson was able to experience the uplifting efforts first hand.

Present were 10 mothers and 10 children selected from the 14 local parents' associations that are scattered across the country. The associations in each city are struggling to cause change surrounding their children's social conditions. Children have different types of disabilities, mainly autism and Down syndrome.

An important goal of the camp is to strengthen parents and allow them to develop themselves so that they, in turn, have the energy to take care of their children. They were among other parents and had the chance to express themselves through conversation and art therapy. They also received training in subjects such as English communication and the Latvian legal framework as related to their special circumstances. An empowerment-based to be able to better care for and fight for, their children’s basic rights.

Liana Velka, responsible for the work of Star of Hope in Latvia, was very happy and satisfied with the arrangement, she said, “the most important thing for me is to give parents the feeling that they are not alone; that there are more who are in the same situation. Here, the mothers take it easy and focus on education because we have special teachers here who are equally competent as mothers as well. We give them the knowledge and opportunity to ask questions of experts. We also teach them not to see their child sick and in need of being cured, but as ‘normal’ in the context of their disabilities and life. Once you start thinking this way you can focus on allowing children to develop on their own terms.”

The families were helped by Inger Lily, Star of Hope's special needs expert in Eastern Europe. She held including individual consultations with each mother and child to assess the special needs of that particular child had. Inger, using scientific methods, combined with decades of experience continued the process of helping children achieve their full potential.

“ I work with the whole family, not just the child but the whole of the child's family will have a better life. That's my driving force, said Inger.”

One of Inger's consultations was held with severely autistic Agnes and her mother Skaidrite.

I am so excited to be here, 'said Skaidrite. The people I got to meet here understand me and my situation, and I can be relaxed with them. I have gained knowledge and experience that I can pair. I learn so much so fast. It is absolutely incredible! But the greatest gift I have received here is probably still the emotional support. I've been dreaming for three years to come here, and am so grateful to God and Star of Hope for the opportunity.

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Facts: Latvia

Population: 2,263,000
Government: Republic
Area: 24,937 square miles
Capital: Riga
Per Capita Income: 
Currency: EURO
Language: Latvian
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Religion: Evangelical Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox