In Serbia, patients with mental health problems are often marginalized by society and by the healthcare establishment. These patients are sometimes abandoned, never able to return to society. These institutionalized patients end-up living their entire lives in dismal conditions without basic human rights.
Following a very negative conclusions of an investigation led by the Mental Disability Rights International (video), a group based in Washington DC, the Serbian government began a set of reforms that aimed at helping integrating patients with mental illnesses back into society. Unfortunately, the lack of necessary funding to purchase even the most basic material make this type of project hard to achieve.
At the Psychiatric Clinic “Laza Lazarević” in Belgrade, the hospital budget did not allow for the remodeling of the adult male in-patient M-ward, or even purchase of new beds and mattresses. Between 2012 and 2013, SAMA raised more than $23,000, and was able to purchase $27,000 of the needed material needed to remodel the M-ward at the Laza Lazarević Hospital. The entire project was probably worth $50,000, but with the help of volunteers and donations in materials, we were able to pull it off at no additional cost. SAMA carried this entire project directly with no intermediary, and with minimal overhead. The adult male ward is now sparkling and serves both an in-patient and outpatient population all year-round.
This was an incredible first project for SAMA. The result surpassed everyone’s expectations. Throughout this action we were able to sense the gratitude of all the people affected by this action, especially the patients and their families.