Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan / Mammad Aliyev

Ramin Binnetov is one of the many talented and committed students who attended the woodcarving course organised by the Inclusive Art School in Baku.

“Ramin joined our programme this April and he really enjoys the learning process,” says Rafael Guliyev, woodcarving instructor. “He’s highly motivated and disciplined. He’s determined to wors hard and never gives up when he faces difficulties.”

Ramin was born in the Gazakh region of Azerbaijan in 1976. After graduating from a Russian/Slavic gymnasium for military families and specialising in Slavic languages, he pursued a weightlifting sports career.

At the peak of his fitness in his early twenties, Ramin suffered a serious trauma that tragically resulted in a permanent disability. Determined to continue his sporting career in spite of such challenges, Ramin trained himself in highly skilled Paralympic shooting skills.

Ramin has also participated in many training courses organised by the British Council, UNDP and the DOST Agency on IT skills, soft skills, business plan development and cultural programmes.

“I always liked learning new things but the classes at this school have expanded my vision of what skills mean,” says Ramin. “For example, now I realize that woodcarving isn’t just a craft but also a stress-relieving process. It gets you in a positive mood. And if things work out the way I’m planning, this new skill could even bring in a decent income.”

Ramin’s instructor in woodcarving, Rafael Guliyev, shares his student’s vision: “Woodcarving is an amazing art activity because you forget about all your challenges while working and focus all your attention on the process. It gives you a new stimulus and motivation in life.”

Ramin deeply enjoys his engagement with the School, and the not only the opportunities it offer for socialising with his classmates to his instructors but also the chats he has with taxi drivers on his way to and from classes.

The driving force behind Ramin’s determination to make a living out of his skill is to build a decent life for his three-year-old daughter with all possible opportunities:

“She is the whole point of living for me right now,” he says, “But I’m not pessimistic. For example, I’m amazed at how much things have changed for people with disabilities like me and the difference in social attitudes over the last twenty years. Even the term ‘inclusive education’ wasn’t familiar to anyone in our country until recently.”

Ramin is one of 26 beneficiaries of the Inclusive Art School who received their certificates for completing their courses at an exhibition organized at the end of June 2021 at the DOST Centre #4.

Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan / Mammad Aliyev

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The Inclusive Art School was opened as part of a wider project for ‘Addressing the Rights and Well-Being of Women with Disabilities and Veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict’, funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population and implemented by UNDP and UNFPA in Azerbaijan. The project was launched at the initiative of the First Vice President of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva.

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The aim of this project is to help reduce the barriers for people with disabilities who continue to experience challenges caused by the lack of inclusive education and employment opportunities as well as social stigmatization towards disability in the society by encouraging people with disabilities to become self-confident, self-employed and self-sufficient. Beneficiaries of the project inspire other people with and without disabilities by their own examples and through mutual experiences. This continuous process in turn brings about a bigger societal change that makes the world a better place where no one is left behind.

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