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Photo by Andrey Glushchenko
Mother … This simple word contains so much warm-heartedness, love and tenderness. To tell you the truth, not all of us were lucky to experience it. Unfortunately there are some parents who do not deserve to be called “a parent”. Some of them are deprived of parental rights after their children had been taken away to orphanages, others do not hesitate to get rid of their child after the state had paid money. And there are so many parentless children in our country… They lack care and attention, they live in their closed world and keep waiting for the door to open so they could see someone who will take their hand and bring them to the house full of kindness and love. A few days before the Adoption Day the correspondents of ReporterUA decided to visit the Zaporozhye Regional Center of Social and Psychological Rehabilitation to see how children - orphans live in Zaporozhye at present.
“Those kids have neither daddies nor mommies … nobody hurries to see them in the evenings”
It was our first visit to the Zaporozhye Regional Center of Social and Psychological Rehabilitation. It is impossible to remain indifferent after visiting such places. This orphanage is located near secondary school #87, quite near children's playgrounds; one can hear children’s laughter. It is obvious that children live here.
These children "are invisible" to most of us. We have no idea what is going on with them, nor we see or feel how much their small and at the same time big hearts want to be loved and hope to find this love. But meantime, as we go through our life, these children grow, learn to speak, go to school, and become adults. Then in their hour of need not many of them will have a helping hand. In fact, some of them were abandoned when they were born, others were brought to the orphanages because their parents lost custody due to disgraceful behaviour, and the rest came begging for help as they couldn’t stand living with their parents anymore.
According to Olga Kucher, director of the Zaporozhye Regional Center of Children’s Social and Psychological Rehabilitation, presently there are 42 children. They spend some time in this center and then they are sent to boarding schools or foster families.
- There are 32 children in our rehabilitation center, 10 kids are in the orphanage and there will be 15 more kids when we finish redecorating the accommodation facility where they could stay for a month receiving therapeutic help and improving their health, - Olga noted.
Only orphans and children who lived in extremely poor conditions are sent to his rehabilitation center by juvenile servants.
- Children, who are very unhappy at home, come to us, their parents drink, treat them cruelly. Nevertheless, even such parents seem to be the best for these kids. They love them dearly, parents just do not want to realize it, - says Olga Kucher. – There are some rare cases when kids come to the center themselves. In any case, when they face family problems, they come to the rehabilitation center.
According to Olga, there were situations when children were brought to the center by criminal militia officers. It also happens when the militia institute legal proceedings against parents who treat their children cruelly.
A seven-year-old Andrey has gone through so much suffering regardless his little age. When he was seven month old, there was a fire in his baby carriage and as a result, he will carry a terrible scorch on his face all his life. There used to be nine kids in his family, now there are only eight: one child died due to careless attitude of his parents. Andrey’s sisters look after him now, bring him up and give him all their care and love. When they all gather together, nothing seems to be more wonderful, than to see the smiles on the faces of little children who stay by each other without batting an eye.
“Lucky Eight Thousand or To Give Birth to Make Money”
Children at the age between 3 and 18 are supposed to be kept in this rehabilitation center, but mostly little kids. As Olga informs us, such children are called "lucky eight thousand" (children aged 3 to 5 years old). This has to do with the fact that the state provides financial support to families when they give birth to a child. Now hospitals, social services, and charitable organizations provide families with all kinds of help. In the Zaporozhye region, there are some non-orphaned boarding schools. Any mother, who hits the bad patch, can write an application and leave the child at full provision of the state. When her financial situation improves, she can take her kid back at any moment.
Certainly, many of us met "mommies", who give birth to children just to make money. When the state began to pay money, such apology for mothers gave birth to children, and then handed them over to an orphanage or a boarding school (this is the reason why such children are called “lucky eight thousand”). At some point they are lucky if they are brought to state institutions. We all heard stories about children are thrown out at a rubbish heap or abandoned to freeze in cold winter weather. Some lucky ones are rescued, they survive and are given a start in life, but some of them do not make it.
“And I Like to Play Soccer”
It is impossible to substitute parental love and care, but it is possible to cultivate self-confidence, provide children with knowledge and to set on a right life path. In fact, the basic problem of orphans is lack of motivation, faith in their strength and future. When you start talking to these teenagers, you can feel some uncertainty and comprehension of reality. Little kids do not realize why they happen to be in orphanages. On the one hand, it is good that instead of family quarrels and hard drinking they find true friends and live in a warm quiet atmosphere here.
Daily routine is very strict here. Meals, activities, rest – everything is according to the schedule. After lunch, all kids have spare time from 1 till 4 pm. At this time, nobody is allowed to do anything else, but to have rest and sleep.
All children (without any exception) have to study. Teenagers attend secondary school #87 which is located near the center; younger kids have classes in the orphanage. Thus, besides studying, these children develop self-discipline and responsibility.
- We have signed a contract with the District Department of Education, secondary school #87 and our rehabilitation center, - Olga says. - Children who require individual training and preschoolers study here.
Despite grave life situations and problems, kids’ life in the boarding school cannot be called boring. Teachers do their best to surround these children with love and quite often arrange concerts and competitions for the kids. Now there are 14 hobby groups. Nine of them are charitable ones. They are arranged by the “Happy Child” and “Rays” charitable funds. At leisure children work on computers, learn to sing, do macrame, make wonderful hand-made articles from paper and unique dolls, they love sports very much.
Vova and Dima have been friends for a long time. They were shy having seen the reporters, but then they told us about their hobbies. So, Vova said that he loved sports very much and when he had some free time, he never missed a chance to toss a ball on a soccer field with his friend.
There is a musical class and the teacher. Many of these kids are very gifted in singing. Nastya likes singing very much. According to her musical teacher, little Nastya participates in all kinds of performances: she both sings and dances. She is very friendly with all guys and, apparently, has already found the true friend.
As educators informed us these children participate in various competitions, their works were exhibited repeatedly. These are wonderful pictures, beautiful dolls, and hand-made articles from beads. And in fact, not all adults can make such wonderful items...
When one of pupils was asked about her future profession, she answered that she hadn’t decided yet, but she liked to draw very much. When all kids continually asked our press photographer to take a photo, she silently took pencils and felt-tip pens and started to draw. On a white sheet of a paper, the eight-year-old girl has written only one word - "Mom" …
The most exciting thing for kids is trips. This is the best way for kids to brighten up their life and forget the pain and problems they have to deal with. Thus, this summer thanks to charitable fund “Happy Child” these children have already been to the Crimea and had rest at the coast of the Sea of Azov. And having been sponsored by a Canadian fund, they had a lucky chance to spend three unforgettable weeks in the mountains.
Unfortunately, according to Olga Kucher, director of the Zaporozhye center of social and psychological rehabilitation, adoption is their weak point.
- The amount of children who are adopted leaves much to be desired. Most of children go under custody, now we have foster homes, I think it’s a very good form of custody, there can be up to 5 or 7 children, sometimes even more, - says Olga.
In the town of Orekhovo, there is a wonderful family which set an example for others. A woman has taken six children under her custody, and the most important part is that she brings them up alone. These kids are really lovely. This mom is a great role model. She was not afraid to open this foster home. It is great delight to watch this happy family. They study, attend various hobby clubs, and constantly go on travels.
“There are no Bad Children, There are Some Bad Adults”
As Olga Kucher asserts there are no bad children, there are some bad adults who cannot understand their children and very often do not even pay attention to them. Truly speaking, these are the reasons why the amount of children’s suicide is constantly increasing in Ukraine. They sometimes behave strangely only to attract attention of their moms and daddies.
There is a saying “Some people want to have a daddy - millionaire, others just want to have one... Looking into eyes of the children that we had a chance to talk to or just to stand next to, it was easy to notice grief and melancholy in their eyes through a cheerful children's smile. They keep waiting when their mommies and daddies come to their senses and take them home. We also hope very soon they will meet such a person who can reach their small hearts. And each of them will be lucky to say to someone these simple and at the same time warm and long-awaited word "Mother"...