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Igniting the Spark of Life in people with dementia


Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT)

KRCT is a non-governmental organization, established in response to the need for rehabilitative care for people who endured severe war-related atrocities (1998-1999). KRCT’s founding aim was to provide treatment and rehabilitation for torture and trauma victims and promote the respect for human rights for all Kosovo ethnicities. People who needed such support included amongst others: war survivors, especially sexual violence survivors, political prisoners, repatriated persons, asylum seekers, refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons, and statelessness persons.

For over 20 years the organization has functioned as an international reference point for treatment and rehabilitation of torture and war survivors. Providing direct psychosocial services to the traumatized people and empowering them to engage in social life and economic opportunities.

Director Dr. Feride Rushiti
Spark of Life Master Practitioner

Dr Feride Rushiti is a medical doctor or extraordinary vision, courage and calibre. When she was a young doctor, in her 20s she worked with a coordinated team of medical doctors who organized themselves to provide medical and psychological services to Kosovar refugees who had escaped into Tirana during the Kosovo crisis in 1999. The hardship Feride faced in her exile motivated her to advocate for rehabilitation for traumatized people in her home country.

After the war, she and the medical director of Danish organisation DIGNITY (Danish Institue Against Torture) met with the former President of Kosovo, Mr Ibrhim Rugova, to discuss setting up the first rehabilitation centre in Kosovo. In October 1999, the KRCT was established. Feride is highly regarded internationally for her work in trauma and rehabilitation, and is the recipient of numerous awards.

Psychologist Selvi Izeti Çarkaxhiu
Spark of Life Master Practitioner

Selvi is an experienced psychologist who has successfully pioneered her skills in the field of trauma rehabilitation, together with her colleague Feride Rushiti, with whom she has worked closely over many years. Selvi plays an active role in educating and supporting her team so they are equipped with the knowledge they need to provide specialized trauma care.

In 2021, Feride and Selvi were part of the intensive three-week Spark of Life Master Leadership Program supported by Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life, so they could become specialized practitioners of this model of care and introduce this into Kosovo for the first time as the underpinning philosophy for their service.

KRCT has made decision to expand its mandate to develop the first rehabilitative service for dementia in Kosovo – which will be a ground breaking service for people with dementia in her country. Feride is a respected government advisor working to bring this into effect also at a policy level for Kosovo.

Feride is a medical practitioner and researcher, as well as a deeply compassionate person who works both at grass roots level as well as the highest leadership levels. She has dedicated her life to serve the most vulnerable people in society and she draws on her whole capacity to navigate around challenging issues and sensitive topics to achieve success in her work in rehabilitation and policy change.

Feride chose to embrace the philosophy because:
“Providing direct psychosocial services to the traumatized people and empowering them to engage in social life and economic opportunities, I could see that the Spark of Life Model of Care would be an innovative approach for us that is already well-developed and impact measured. Having similarities in emotional treatment and physical health, we believe through learning and sharing we will be able as organization to integrate such an approach in daily services with the beneficiaries.”

In June 2022, Feride and Selvi translated the Spark of Life Education into Albanian to pioneer the education their colleagues in Kosovo.⁠

Feride says, “The Spark of Life Philosophy is an added value to our work with clients, since many components of this philosophy can be easily adapted to work with clients that don’t suffer from dementia, but who would benefit greatly from this holistic, encouraging and humanist techniques to inspire the human soul. KRCT would like to thank the Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life for the continuous support towards the capacity building in KRCT and for enriching our perspective in the field of rehabilitation”.⁠

Pictures taken from Feride and Selvi’s first education presentation on the Spark of Life Philosophy to their colleagues:

Video Transcript:

The Benefits of the Spark of Life Model of Care

Dr Feride Rushiti, Founder Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims

The Spark of Life Model of Care is a holistic approach to caring for people affected by dementia which brings the human to the centre and the whole program is tailor based on their needs. This model of care is of great benefit for treatment and rehabilitation of persons affected by trauma of the war, and could also be implementable worldwide for people with trauma or other needs.

Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life and the Master Leadership Program has opened our vision of thinking about identifying the potential of growth in each and every person who face challenges or other different traumas. This program is evidence based, and crafted in such a way that it is easily accessible, understandable, and put into practice with the aim of bringing back the joy and the spark of life to the life of people with dementia. Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life’s values are focused on potential, strength, resilience and unconditional love with a heart to heart connection.

The uniqueness of the Spark of Life Model of Care is full compassion, empathy, and a desire to enrich another person’s life by encouraging and empowering persons with dementia to have a better life.