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In the Fall issue I wrote about visiting the grandmother of little Claudia a daughter of my Vancouver's friends Maria and Lubomir Demcak in Telgart. Maria's mother works at the Institute of social welfare in Cervena Skala a village close-by Telgart. This Institute is a permanent home for up to 35 mentally and physically challenged children and teenagers. It is a sub institute of a larger one in Pohorelska Masa a village near-by. The hardest cases, that are beyond help and belief of improvement, find their permanent home at Cervena Skala. Here, three full time nurses per shift take care of these patients, looking after all their needs.

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The institute has been in operation since January 18, 1984, when the government purchased a large house and converted it into a sanatorium. There are five rooms on two floors, housing seven people per room, with around the clock help and supervision. Over ninety percent of the patients canít move at all. The nurses take care of everything: moving the patients from side to side and around, changing diapers and clothes, washing, bathing and feeding them, basically a care from A to Z. These is cases that would be guaranteed certain death without their help. From the 35 patients only few are visited regularly. Some get visit once a year and most of them, about 28, have no visitors at all, and are simply abandoned. Definitely this is not a horror story as we got used to, watching the children in similar institutions in Romania few years back. This place is spotless, clean, pleasant. The patients were all dressed in clean and colorful clothing, not for my visit as I arrived unexpected. This is how it is on daily basis here. 

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They now they can't improve their state of being, so at least they make everyone comfortable. I have made a friends with the two patients that can walk and talk here, Lubo Cibula and Priska. Lubo is 17 now and in the institution from age 4. He used to be taken by his mother when he was four, only to return abused and with blue marks from beating. Now his mother visits him once in three years. Priska is a 25 year old girl, in the institution for the last 10 years. She attended separate school prior to being admitted to this institution. She helps with the work around here as a nurse's aid. Lubo's favorite play is being a driver and driving an old chair with plastic keys and home made driving license.

If you feel you would like to help, please write to:

Ustav Socialnej Starostlivosti
97672 Cervena Skala


Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 2, No.4, Winter 1994
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1994 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.