PHOTO CREDIT: CIM
With the social initiative “Recovering Inner Child”, the DoKa Foundation has finally started its international work. The first step is aiming preliminary assessment of the situation in the Eastern Europe, particularly countries, which are economically challenged due to socio-political transition. The first trip was targeting some of the governmental and the private institutions in Serbia, which carry supporting role for the children and the youth in need.
Most people are not aware that, only one or two flight hours away from the richest countries, there are children who live on the streets or under extreme deprivation; children and youth, who are exposed not only to the poverty and hunger, but as well to abuse and crime within and outside the family.
Situation is hardened due to missing or inadequate education, high unemployment rate, incomes, which can’t cover even essential life costs and increasing gap between the wealthy and poor.
Socio-political transition in economically unstable environment is acting as a constant stress, which activates surviving mode in people. Filled with the existential fears, parents often loose hope and perspective and are neither able to provide adequate support to own children nor to teach them how to effectively cope in hard life situations. With this, children’s wellbeing is multiple triggered: not only that they get exposed to poverty, moral and ethical conflicts, but even worst, they loose trust in family, friends, society and above all in themselves.
Without right support they are “programed” to repeat the same life norms, habits and values, learned from their closest environment. And exactly re-programing of such life patterns is of enormous importance, but as well this makes supporting work with children very hard.
Understaffed and without adequate residence and resources, supervisors in local shelters often struggle to execute their multiple roles. They are not only fighting for getting essentials as “the roof and the food” for the most vulnerable ones, but they have to act at the same time as a family surrogates, educators, psychologists, nurses and advocates.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the situation is not always fully comprehended by the government and the largest part of the population is stressed by its own existential struggles. This causes underestimation of the certain problems and misjudgement of the solutions, what in return, creates suboptimal conditions, in which most local shelters operate. With this, even the biggest efforts may become ineffective, goals un-achieved and expectations broken, leaving deprived children and their families insufficiently supported and shelter employees burned out.
One should not forget that for some children, shelters are not only providing an opportunity to get warm meal, hot shower and the basic medical support, but as well this may be the only safe place they know; the place, which provides them a refuge from the street work, abuse, trafficking and engagement in crime; the place where someone may try to pacify their despair, deepest fears and anger for the first time; where they could learn from qualified supervision more about healthy communication and life style. And probably the most important, shelters can initialise a healing process of the child, allowing her/ him to discover own talents and to engage in educational, creative and sport programs. This all may in return, help children re-establish values and hope, opening them, at the same time, to the new future perspectives.
Mahatma Ghandi once said that: “a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Unfortunately, awareness that the children are not only precise estimators of the circumstances but as well a good prediction about the path in which society moves, is often missing.
Society can be well compared to the house; both, society and house are there to provide security. But, though we are well aware that house built of rotten bricks will never be stable and secure, we expect to have stable and secure society built up upon broken children and youth. We fail to realise that not one single, broken child can grow into stable and safe individual without large efforts. And without this awareness, we jeopardise not only life of one single individual but the future of the society too.
By supporting wellbeing of the child, we not only support child’s health and happiness but as well, we initialise waves of change, which act as amplifier through impacts on family members, school friends, neighbourhood, and after all on the society itself.
For that reason, there is no larger responsibility for any of us, no matter if at the level of the individual, institution, corporation or government, then responsibility to protect and support every child so she/ he can grow into healthy and happy person capable to reach own potentials. Even more, we should always keep in mind that by investing in one single child we invest after all in the future of the human kind.