In the summer of 2016, Rotarians from several areas of Turkey visited Indiana and asked for assistance from their fellow Rotarians in America to help find a way to serve the young disabled population in Turkey. The developmentally disabled in Turkey have often been relegated to a lower status and deemed untrainable. They are not integrated into society and often hidden away. This poses many challenges for caregivers and for the consciences of Rotarians both in Turkey and in the US.
The Rotarians from Turkey recognized that the US does a much better job of accepting, training and integrating the developmentally disabled into viable parts of our communities. They knew that they needed to ask for specific training from us so that they could help their communities at home. Rotary Club of La Porte began to spearhead an effort to collaborate with several area clubs including the Rotary Clubs of Michigan City, Valparaiso and Monticello. This collaboration created an innovative program for Training Trainers from Turkey to learn methods for successfully introducing young people with disabilities to skills that will enable them to be productive participants in the workforce. The Turkish Trainers Training Trainers Program has won a grant of $37,710 from the Rotary International Foundation and Rotary District 6540 that will allow for bringing three trainers from Turkey to Indiana, where they will be mentored by educators who are currently operating successful work training and placement programs for the disabled. Training materials are now being prepared that will assist the new trainers as they return to Turkey in order to train more trainers.
This collaborative group from the American Rotary clubs and the Turkish Rotarians have developed this program over the past year, using every communication skill available including e-mail and Skype sessions. Christina Dougherty of the La Porte Rotary and Mary Kaczka have been instrumental in writing the grant, and Dr. Musa Pilar, a business professor at Valparaiso University, has been invaluable in assisting with translating documents and communication between the groups from Indiana and Turkey. La Porte Rotary Immediate Past President Fran Milo and President Brett Binversie are very excited to make this announcement. This is the first time La Porte has been a participant in the International Rotary Foundation Grant process. The Turkish trainers are scheduled to come to the area September 30 through October 15. Measurements and follow-up are an essential part of the successful grant award, and Rotary looks forward to sharing updates with our communities.
The mission of Rotary International is to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through its fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.