Family values are deep-rooted in Azerbaijan, and have been passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial. Care of youngsters, and respect for the elderly are cherished traditions in our country.
For more than ten years the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been operating projects in a great many spheres. However, solving social problems, and issues in the educational and healthcare sectors has been the priority area of the Foundation's activities since Day One. One the Foundation's principle aims in this field is extending help to children and young people who have been left without parental care – children of refugees, or displaced people, and similarly children who suffer from different illnesses or disease. A wide number of projects have been set up under the banner of their 'Development Of Children's Homes & Boarding Schools' program, which was established in 2004. As an expansion of the activities the Foundation is already carrying out, it is now preparing to begin operating programs in other countries too.
Day.Az presents an interview from the APA information agency with the Executive Director of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, -Mr Anar Alakbarov - translated from Azeri by Trend.
What projects have been set up so far in the field of children's homes and boarding schools by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation?
The Heydar Aliyeva Foundation places special priority on providing care for young children and teenagers, who live in children's homes and boarding schools. That's why the Foundation, from the very first day of its operations, rolled out the 'Development Of Children's Homes & Boarding Schools' program. Our Working Group was established at the behest of the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, with the express aim of examining current problems in children's homes and boarding schools throughout Azerbaijan. The group continuously monitors both the physical and technical facilities of these institutions, along with the degree of care and emotional support that is provided to the children and teenagers who live in them.
The Foundation is involved with some children's homes and boarding on the level of rebuilding the premises of these facilities; in solving the problems which the children and teenagers living there face; and also helping young people who have been deprived of family care to integrate into society.
Currently, the 'Development Of Children's Homes & Boarding Schools' program in Azerbaijan has been able to provide for capital rebuilding projects and provision of new equipment in thirty-six centres for these young children; we've built additional and supplementary buildings; we've provided drawing and dancing courses; and provided training courses for the staff dedicated to the development and fun of these children. Our work in this sphere is ongoing - there is always more we can do.
At the moment the Heydar Aliyev Foundation is in the middle of rebuilding Special Boarding School № 4 - in the village of Shuvelan in the Khazarsky Region - which is for children with restricted physical movement, and for children separated from their own families. A summer camp called Dalga is being built for the recreation of children and teenagers from the village of Zira who attend Children's Home № 2 in the Surukhany Region.
Today the Foundation is actively organising such work not only within Azerbaijan, but abroad too. Can you tell us in which countries projects are being run for children who have been separated from their own families?
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is expanding the scope of its activities with children's homes and boarding schools, and similarly in its other projects, not only within the borders of Azerbaijan - but also abroad as well. Within the Russian Federation our Foundation has examined the situation with children's homes and boarding schools in a number of different cities throughout Russia, and assessed the support we are able to offer to these institutions. A number of visits have been made to children's homes and boarding schools for children with impaired eyesight in Moscow and St Petersburg, and it has been decided to carry out a range of social projects. Today, several children's homes and boarding schools in the Moscow and St Petersburg areas are under the permanent patronage of the Foundation.
We are also rebuilding a Centre for Blind and Visually-Impaired Children in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzogovina. In Hungary we have already rebuilt a Centre for Visually-Impaired Children, and we are now building a new residential complex for the centre. In Pakistan, the USA, Germany, and some cities in Europe the Foundation is carrying out social initiative projects for the support of orphans, and of children who are in need of special kinds of care.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation is also known for its work in the social support and protection of children who have been deprived of the care of their own families. Can you tell us what the Foundation is doing in this field?
One the biggest factors in the success of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation's work in this area is the persistent and systematic approach we follow in this field. In this case I can give you examples of construction projects we have carried out for children and teenagers who have been deprived of parental care and of family support – children in dire need of the refuge that our children's homes and boarding schools can offer. The Foundation similarly takes direct measures to ensure they receive good-quality schooling, well-organised leisure time, in addition to solving the issues in their daily lives. The Foundation has organised special celebrations marking the holidays of New Year, Ramadan, Eid, and other major holiday dates with festive fun for these kids. The President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Madam Merhiban Aliyeva has, in recent years, celebrated her own birthday in the company of children and teenagers from children's homes.
The issue of the education and upbringing of the children is always front-of-mind with the Foundation's President. The result of this is that care for the children and teenagers who are deprived of their own family's support is not limited to the provision of physical and material facilities during their time at children's homes and boarding schools alone. The Foundation takes especial care for their needs after they have completed their education too - to ensure they find housing and careers. Over the recent period, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has begun an initiative to build homes for young people who lack the care of their own families - who have left institutions where they were temporarily resident.
We make frequent visits to children's homes and boarding schools, and from these visits we are able to establish good communications and genuine interaction with the children and young people who live in these homes. We can honestly say that we know every child and teenager in these homes by name. In fact, as a result of this close relationship with the kids in our care, it recently happened that the Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Mrs Leila Aliyeva, became extremely fond of one small girl who has been separated from her parents – and decided to adopt her. Today Madam Aliyeva is mother not just to her two twin sons - but to a daughter too. It's now almost impossible to conceal the joy of seeing the wonderful family relationship which has developed between Leyla Aliyeva and little Amina, and the love and affection they have for each other. I wish that all families will experience the same love and devotion between parent and child as Mrs Aliyeva has with Amina.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation rolled out another new project in 2014 entitled 'Development of Pre-School Learning Facilities”. Please tell us more about what these centres are offering the kids who attend them?
Alongside the “New Schools for a New Azerbaijan” and “Support for Education” projects, the Heydar Aliyeva Foundation has been putting its experience to use in rolling out a major new project – called 'Development of Pre-School Learning Facilities'. This project has already born fruit in the shape of a series of new kindergarten facilities - and several of them are already in full operation.