Jõulusoovide puu

The Christmas wish tree is made up of the dreams and wishes of children in shelters and substitute homes, sent to Santa Clause. To make sure that these do not just remain dreams, pick a gift from the Christmas tree and make a donation to the best of your ability.


Christmas wish tree: special wishes from special children

The Christmas tree is covered with a myriad of wishes: those of girls and boys, three-year-olds and 16-year-olds, South-Estonian children and North-Estonian children. And among all these wishes there are those from children that are a bit more special than other children. They are children with special needs and for them things do not come as easily as for others.

Disabled children living in substitute homes are very different and hence problems differ too, so generalisations are difficult to make. There are children with severe disabilities who may live their whole lives lying in their bed. And then there are a lot of children with lesser disabilities who look like perfectly ordinary children to those who do not know them – yes, some may speak or gesture a little differently or laugh too much or not all, or move about a bit awkwardly. But they are really not that different from ordinary children.

They are children who are capable of learning and developing and who can cope more or less independently. Therefore it is important that they grew up in normal substitute home families with ordinary children – this makes them more independent, self-confident and more included in society. It is important that they becpme accustomed to communicating with ordinary people and go to various events with others.

Margit, teacher at a family house, says that she has noticed that living together with special children offers quite a different experience for ordinary children: they learn to notice people with special needs, help them and, if necessary, protect them. Even if there is a lack of familiarity or even suspicion, as they learn more about each other these feelings are put aside and so they all become a bit more tolerant and considerate.

Andrei – a passionate traveller and Lego specialist

Today’s protagonist is 13-year-old Andrei who has a moderate learning disability and autistic traits. Andrei lives in a family house with his sister who is two years older than him and Andrei’s life does not actually differ from that of an ordinary child. The only difference is that he goes to a special school where the study programme matches his abilities and he cannot go out on his own because he does not know his way about by himself. He is involved in every aspect of family life, starting with household chores and family meetings and ending with foreign trips and popular sports events.

Before Andrei started school specialists believed that he would never start to talk (he did speak before school but it was in a language only he could understand), but now not only does he talk but he reads and writes, is capable of participating in discussions and of making himself understood. Though his speech is a bit peculiar and he has difficulties with understanding or forming longer sentences, Andrei gets things done. Today he is bold and inquisitive while back when he was a toddler he was afraid of everything and everyone. Back then each venture outside the house was a traumatic experience, however, now Andrei has become a keen traveller. He likes outings in Estonia and waited for a long time for his first foreign trip which finally happened late last summer when he travelled to Finland. And now he has a whole list of destinations he would like to go to next.

So, when speaking about the needs of special children, Andrei’s are the same as with other children – to see and discover the world, do interesting things, be in touch with people, especially his peers, and be involved in his family’s, his community’s and society’s goings on. And of course, like any child living in a substitute home, Andrei dreams about living with his own family, his parents or relatives. This is why his teachers are so happy that he now has a good and warm relationship with his grandmother with whom he can sometimes spend a whole weekend. Visits to his grandmother have perhaps been the biggest joy for Andrei this year – well, that and the trip to Finland!

Andrei’s wish to Santa is to get a Lego car. At home he enjoys playing with the younger boys’ Lego and construction sets or building something (for example, the latest trend is to build very intricate maze-like fortresses from paper – inspired by computer games). He may spend hours tinkering, shutting himself out from the rest of the world.

Participate Thank you, if you have already supported our charity programme or if you are going to do it in the future! Sign a standing payment order contract in SEB Internet Bank for 3 euros a month or support with a single donation.