PIZZERIA VITTORIA a case model for inclusion and disability management in Lviv, Ukraine.

How the idea was born: under a bombing in a shelter

During my first visit in Ukraine to Dhzerelo children’s rehabilitation centre in Lviv in April 2022, there was a bombing and we had to stay 3 hours in the shelter, also without light. I was very scared, but I decided that if that was the end, I wanted to end with a project and so I proposed to Zoreslava Liulchak, Director Dhzerelo Centre, and to Oksana Hydria, Director of the Child Rehabilitation Unit of Lviv Hospital and director of rehabilitation in Dhzerelo,  to do an innovative inclusive project for Ukraine.

I was in one of the most inclusive centres of the country, and just 2 years ago a new culture of disability started in Ukraine with the adoption of ICF Classification and of its bio-psycho-social model and the ratification of the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disability.

Now in Ukraine the implementation of the ICF in the electronic system of medical documentation is being completed. Currently, the Ministry of Health has a series of online webinars on the basic foundations of ICF, establishing a functional diagnosis according to ICF, creating an individual rehabilitation plan based on ICF. Just at the beginning of September 2023,  Ukraine will already have a new electronic medical documentation in rehabilitation departments based on the ICF.

But rehabilitation is not enough. People have, between others,  the right to work and in Ukraine there still is no law for inclusive employment. The employment gap is persistent as people with disability face a substantial and lasting disability skills gap: without the required skills and the possibility to upgrade those skills in a constantly changing labour market, people with disability are not on an equal footing to fill a vacancy or keep a job. Low rates of employment are also responsible for high rates of poverty among people with disability.

Going forward, Ukrainian government should also focus on key areas to improve the labour market inclusion of people with disability: equipping sickness insurance programmes with strong return-to-work components, define obligations for both employers and employees, and define occupational and vocational rehabilitation pathways. Second, focusing on potential future disability claimants among jobseekers, by strengthening the capacity of (public) employment services to identify health barriers early and to provide measures that target each individual’s needs, including the needs of people with disability or health barriers to employment.

To make policies more effective, future change must come under a strong disability-mainstreaming angle. Disability mainstreaming, which is also at the core of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, should be implemented rigorously in all policy areas. Mainstream stakeholders and mainstream institutions must understand the importance of disability inclusion, and be accountable for the outreach to and equal inclusion of people with disability in their programmes and approaches. 

All this is known and clear. But how to start during a war situation to think to this, and how to do it NOW??

Inclusive employment: a new culture for people with disability in Ukraine

So I proposed, during that long Russian bombing,  to do a PIZZERIA in Lviv, a place where inclusion is the rule and work is the outcome,  together with solidarity, friendship, business and new learning. A place where some of the people with disability of Dhzerelo Centre together with veterans from Rehabilitation Centres such as UNBROKEN or SUPERHUMAN, and with other  workers, could work together  in an inclusive manner. A new inclusive culture on disability in Ukraine is mostly needed now with all the veterans and victims of war increasing EVERY DAY. In one year of war Ukraine increased the number of veterans with disability of around 55.000 young soldiers, and there is no exact count of civilians so far, they all sum up with all people with disability that were already in Ukraine, 2 millions according to estimates before the war, and those in the Internats (before the war 220.000 adults and 88.000 children with disability were living there according to UNICEF, often in severe restrictions and violation of the Convention of rights of people with disability).

Foresight inclusive vision for all,  starting from veterans and from all people with disability

We need to work together with friends and colleagues from Ukraine so as to try to create a new culture of functioning, health and disability. The veterans will be those that can help to build a great reform. In fact they cannot be excluded from society, nor stigmatized, nor just put at home with a pension, as were treated those veterans of the IIWW. They are heroes and need a new language and a new culture. This culture does not exist in Ukraine yet, oppressed by the emergencies of the war. This culture however is mostly needed and even in this tragedy, this moment can be an opportunity for hope and innovation. We discussed about this with friends in the shelter and our discussion lasted till the end of the bombing and beyond.


I started to speak about this project once back to Italy where we have in several similar experiences. What happened since then is that MORETTI Forni, an industry of baking ovens from Pesaro my hometown,  gave me an oven for pizza to bring to Lviv.  Adoremus ODV, an NGO for promotion of people with disability from Bologna, assured me the location and the provision of training done both in Bologna and in Lviv done by some Italian pizzaioli, and guarantees free courses on how to do pizza. We are exploring the possibility, as the war is still unfortunately ongoing, to host some people with disability and veterans in Bologna, providing them the courses of making PIZZA, Then we also plan to have pizzaioli from Italy going to Lviv to make training courses. Others are promising support if we do this.

The PIZZERIA VITTORIA is planned as an inclusive employment setting, as case study for disability management in employment sector 

Meanwhile the PIZZERIA VITTORIA has become the case model for inclusive employment used in the University Course on DISABILITY MANAGEMENT in Ukraine that will be provided as a joint effort of Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Besta, Catholic University- Bioethics Centre of Milan, Catholic University of Ukraine, Dhzerelo centre, Medical Academy of Ukraine