Friday, December 22, 2017

Seeing through the institutions and the smoke-screens

From the manufacturer's website
Today I chatted with somebody possessing inside information about Aleh Jerusalem. I contacted that person regarding Aleh's recent announcement of its launch of a project to equip its residents with Wizzybugs. There's a photo of one over on the right. It comes from the company that developed them.

This is an expensive wheelchair and, as I learned from my source, requires a protracted period of training before a child can operate it. My source told me that several children at the institution have been undergoing such training using a substitute device and that one family had purchased a Wizzybug for their child. And that, dear readers, constitutes the sum total of Wizzybugs at Aleh.

Now here is what Aleh's PR whizzes did with those Wizzybug facts:
  • "At the beginning of November, ALEH, Israel’s network of care for children with severe complex disabilities, launched a new empowerment project at its residential facility in Jerusalem that provides toddlers with specially-designed motorized wheelchairs, allowing them to take control of their own mobility from the age of one year-old...
  • “We at ALEH believe that every person has a natural right to dignity, the highest quality of life and to reach their fullest potentials. That’s why these brilliant Wizzybug chairs were a natural fit for us,” added Grayevsky. “We are thrilled for all of our amazing ALEH kids who are now benefitting from this exciting project, and we enjoy watching them use this new tool to move their lives ever forward.”. 
Notwithstanding those assertions, I had a strong feeling after reading the PR release and looking past the smoke-screen that Aleh has no more than one Wizzybug on its premises. After all, the photos accompanying the article only showed one. If there were a fleet of them, wouldn't we have been shown it? My source confirmed my suspicions.

I realize this deception is trivial and that harping on it, even as briefly as I have, could be construed as obsessive. But it is emblematic of Aleh's wider attitude towards the truth about children with disabilities.

For instance, their incessant insertion of the word "inclusion" into every item they disseminate. Aleh's approach toward these children and adults is the antithesis of inclusion. Their claims otherwise - as found here - are nothing but "alternative facts".  Likewise their irrational insistence that their large, closed institutions are "home" and their staff "family" to the residents could not be further from the truth. 

Occasionally, their slick PR whizzes slip up as they did here where they concede that the children in Aleh Jerusalem do have real biological families who visited them on Hanukka last week. This just confirms the claims of Lumos that over 80% of all children who have been handed over to institutions throughout the world are not orphans:
"Eight million children live in orphanages and other institutions globally. More than 80% are not orphans but have been separated from their families because of poverty and discrimination." [Lumos]
Many of the these families would not have abandoned their children had they received the government assistance they need and deserve to care for their children. 

Somehow these facts elude the army of supporters that Aleh has enlisted, among them employees and volunteers - and including my source. They tell me that the residents had been neglected by their families and enjoy a higher quality of life in Aleh. They are clueless as to the de-insitutionalized systems of care now pursued in the rest of the developed world. They presume that Israel's choice between quality care and family love is the ideal and the only solution. 

When will enlightenment reach our shores?

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