x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Dimensions Centre for special needs children saved from closure by readers of The National

Following a series of appeals in this newspaper, the Fujairah centre, which closed in May, will now reopen 

Ali Al Bloushi, 3, with his mother, Mona Al Kindi, at Dimensions Center in Fujairah. The centre, which treats children with special needs, has been saved from closure after the community rallied to help. Reem Mohammed / The National
Ali Al Bloushi, 3, with his mother, Mona Al Kindi, at Dimensions Center in Fujairah. The centre, which treats children with special needs, has been saved from closure after the community rallied to help. Reem Mohammed / The National

The Dimensions Centre for children with special needs, which closed in May, has announced it is to reopen thanks to the help of local philanthropists.

Over the past three months, The National has followed the story of the centre, which appealed for help as it faced closure because of a lack of funds. And on the first day of Ramadan, the centre announced it had to close its doors, leaving 21 children with disabilities without the care they desperately need.

After our report, however, people and companies across the country have rallied together to save the much-needed lifeline for families in the Northern Emirates. Some offered their skills and resources, organising fundraising campaigns, while others provided financial support to keep the centre open for another year.

Tamara Tagliapietra, the ­centre manager, said she had lost all hope the centre could be saved.

Centre manager Tamara Tagliapietra said closing the centre was like 'ripping the heart out of her chest', and now it is to reopen thanks to readers of The National. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Centre manager Tamara Tagliapietra said closing the centre was like 'ripping the heart out of her chest', and now it is to reopen thanks to readers of The National. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“I tried to take all the available opportunities, but after announcing the centre’s closure through The National, I received calls and emails from philanthropists offering help,” she said.

“It was like getting my life back and [it reignited] the cause that we all fought for. Now I can say with confidence that the signboards are back up and the doors are open once again to welcome all the children with various disabilities.”

The centre received about Dh57,000 in donations in May, but it was not enough to keep it open.

It had suffered financial difficulties after offering discounts to families who could not afford to pay the full fees.

“After losing hope, I received a call from VPS Healthcare who were very generous and offered to cover a long list of late bills, property rental fees, salaries and licensing fees,” Ms Tagliapietra said.

“We also received another generous amount of money from the Fujairah Government, while many individuals offered to arrange fundraising events and offered donations.”

The Dimensions Centre opened in Fujairah City in November 2015 with the goal of empowering children who suffer from physical disorders, and to help them adjust to school and their environment.

“Now we are in the final stages of the process of renewing the licence, and have started to welcome children back,” Ms Tagliapietra said.

Families of children with ­special needs who used to benefit from the centre’s development programmes were extremely happy and thankful to all the people who rallied around to help.

“I had a strong belief the centre would reopen because I believe in the generosity of our society, and I’m really thankful for all their efforts. My son, Ali, thanks them too,” said Mona Al Kindi, the mother of Ali Al Bloushi, 3, an Emirati with Down syndrome.

“Ali joined the centre six months ago and he didn’t stop progressing. His behaviour changed dramatically, he started to be more social and organised,” said Ms Al Kindi, 46.

She used to take her son twice a month to other emirates from Kalba, Sharjah, to attend development programmes.

Another Emirati mother, who has four children under the age of nine, all with learning difficulties, said the centre was a blessing and losing it would have been tragic.

_________________

Read more:

Families' desperate plea as UAE special needs centre faces closure without financial support

Couple devoted to Fujairah special needs centre see fruits of labour

_________________

“I have four children with learning difficulties and this is the best centre in the area, and the cheapest. I couldn’t believe that it would close and I prayed for it to stay open to help develop my kids and ­other children,” said Huda Mohammed, 41.

“My children need a continuous development programme and only the Dimensions Centre can provide such services in the area. They are dedicated to providing parents with the help they need to look after their children.

“I thank every single person who fought for our children and for their right to learn, progress and develop,” Ms Mohammed said.

A spokesman for VPS Healthcare said the company was thrilled to be able to help the centre reopen.

“We are fortunate to have this opportunity and be able to help the centre and the community, and raise awareness on the importance of having such facilities dedicated to children with various difficulties,” he said.