This is a story about a kind and polite little boy who deseprately needs a new Mommy and Daddy. Today, we can make this happen with your help.
Meet Misha*, a 4-year-old boy found on the streets of Kyiv one night, early October 2013. He was neglected by his mother who had recently returned from prison for the fourth time and experienced problems with drugs and alcohol. Misha’s Grandmother, who had been looking after the boy all this time, died unexpectedly in September 2013, just one month after Misha’s fourth birthday. That’s how he appeared on the streets of a residential suburban area of the Ukrainian capital that October night, cold, abandoned and all alone against the whole wide world.
Thanks to the work of the “Vital Emergency Fostering for Children in Ukraine” project and your generous donations, instead of staying in a shelter until further indefinite placement in the institutional care, Misha has found a loving home with the short-term and emergency foster carers: Natalia and Anatoliy. On the first days of his stay in a new home, Misha managed to surprise his foster parents by completely ignoring a big box with toys. “It seems that nothing interested Misha: neither toys nor playing with other children outside. Instead, he has spent ages writing letters to imaginary friends, making collages and drawings.” - says Natalia, his temporary “Mommy”. Creativity has most probably saved Misha from the trauma of separation with a significant family member who his late Grandma was. Misha does not remember his father; he does not like talking about his Mom or her partner. Because of the way the childcare system works in Ukraine, his 12-year-old stepbrother has been placed in the orphanage and has only few chances to be reintegrated with Misha again.
Two months later, the social services have confirmed inability of Misha’s biological mother to look after the boy in the future. The project workers are now in the process of looking for a permanent care solution for a boy: an adoptive or a lon-term foster family. “Misha is a very kind and polite little boy, who is very curious about each new day in this world. The only thing is, he just desperately needs a new Mommy and Daddy.” – says his short-term foster carer Natalia.
We know for sure how to make it happen. All we need is your help. Today is a Bonus Day on globalgiving.com. This means that every donation made will be 30% matched by the pledge. It also means that your help to children in need will go even further to ensure that this life-saving work is there 24/7.
So please donate whatever you can today, Wednesday, February 12 starting at 9:00 AM EST / 1:00 PM GMT at www.goto.gg/13047 until the matching funds lasts. Hurry up and please tell everyone you know about this cause, too.
We thank you for your generosity. On behalf of Misha and every child in need.
* The names have been changed to protect a child's confidentiality.
Meet Tetyana and Taras Gursky – short-term and emergency foster carers. They are one of the three families involved in the work of the “Vital Emergency Fostering for Children in Ukraine” project. For less than $30 a day the Gursky family provide 24/7 care and support to children who are in need of urgent protection due to cases of severe neglect, child abuse or abandonment. Their endless amount of energy and enthusiasm is multiplied by your kind donations – this yields great results which we are thankful for.
Over the past two years of the Gursky family has welcomed 8 children. Most of them have been removed from their biological families because of the potential threats to their lives. A mother of a one-month-old baby boy Oleg* has abandoned him in the maternity ward. While the project workers have been looking for potential adoptive parents, Oleg was looked after by the Gursky family. For 6 of the other children it was a similar story: two-and-a-half-year-old Artur* and his one-year-old little brother Zhenia*, two-and-a-half-year-old Glib* and his 18 months-old sister Marina*, as well as siblings Natasha* (three months old) and Vadim* (three years old). They have all been discovered by the social services while their biological parents – heavily abusing alcohol – by the time of the visit were missing. Next followed children’s placements with Mr and Mrs Gursky who have been working on restoring sometimes vitally missing motor and developmental skills of the children, but also filled each one of them with security and love they were all deprived of at those early stages of their lives.
Tetyana Gursky, an emergency foster carer from Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Region, Ukraine says: “My work spurs this sense of vigour inside me every day. Otherwise, it would be impossible to work in tandem with social workers and biological parents of the fostered children for the families to be reunited again." In the end of September 2013, a five-month-old baby girl has been placed into the care of the Gursky family. Her mother Liuda, a young student without a partner or any support network decided to abandon her newly born baby girl. “I am sure that these are the consequences of post-natal depression, - says Mrs Gursky. She will take her time and change her mind eventually. Most importantly, she has to realise that there is help available. We are the help.”
In order to be able to continue this life-saving work, families like Taras and Tetyana Gursky need your support. So please donate whatever you can afford and tell everyone you know about this great cause.
We thank you immensely!
* All names of the children have been changed to protect confidentiality.
This summer has brought us another amazing story that we cannot wait to share with you. When Social Services discovered nine year old Alina*, she was living in a tent with her Mum and a dozen of other construction workers in the middle of the building site in one of the recently developed residential areas in Kyiv, Ukraine. The girl knew her own name and the names of her parents, but that was about it. At the age of 9, Alina has never been to school and lived in the constant fear of being discovered by the police and sent to an orphanage.
Thanks to the work of the “Vital Emergency Fostering for Children in Ukraine” project and your kind donations, Alina has been placed into a loving foster care family who started gradual but persistent work with the girl to develop her handwriting and reading skills. By August, Alina was able to read fluently in both Russian and Ukrainian. She could also write short sentences and was keen on drawing beautiful bright pictures, full of flowers, hearts and kittens.
After her placement into short-term foster care in May 2013, Alina has also received professional psychological treatment to help a girl overcome permanent frustration and anxiety and to cope with the nightmares. She has had a full medical examination to retrieve her immunisation history and completed medical tests needed for school that hopefully she will start this September.
Staying in the short-term foster care gives a girl hope to reunite with her Mum who is currently overcoming the problems that have separated them. Natalia, Alina's biological Mum, with support of the project worker, has renewed her passport, Alina’s birth certificate and other paperwork needed for a girl to be able to go to school for the first time in her life. At the moment Natalia is undergoing rehabilitation course from her alcohol dependence. Both Alina and her Mum are looking forward to their big future together. “I miss Mummy and once she finds a new house for us I want to show her my new school and to make her proud”, - says Alina.
Alina is just one of the many children this project is supporting. As little as $28 will cover a salary for a foster carer to look after children like Alina who are in need of urgent protection. By supporting this project, you are not only helping to ensure this caring families work, but also enable parents in difficult life situations who are not able to look after their own kids to rebuild their lives and to begin their stories anew and together. Please spare whatever you can - be it your time, donation, sharing this link on your blogs, social networks, just merely bringing us up in a conversation - everything would count! Spread the word and the fostering WILL work.
Thanks to all who are making happy endings to our stories possible.
*The name has been changed to protect a child’s confidentiality.
Two and a half year old Artur* and his little brother Zhenia* have been placed in emergency fostering due to potential threat to their lives. Found by the Services for Children, the boys were severely neglected with visible signs of developmental delays and malnutrition. For 30 months old Artur, everything around was described with a single word ‘allo’, while 18 months old Zhenia was not able to even crawl because of exhaustion and weakness. In a weeks’ time their foster parents write in a diary: “Artur started saying first words: “please”, “open the door”, “let’s eat”. He turns into a real chatterbox, learning some new words every day... When I brought him some new clothes from the shop and he tried them on, I commented how nice he looks in it. From then on, I couldn’t stop Artur, he kept asking “Nice?”, pointing at various things. The boy is very affectionate, he easily responds to love and care…” As for little Zhenia, the first thing was to resume his eating skills – due to starvation he lost his chewing reflex – and to return his physical stamina to continue developing gross and motor skills. After a month of their stay in foster care the care-givers noted a record progress: “It has become Zhenia’s duty to remind everyone that it’s meal time. He crawls into a kitchen chair and starts banging with his feeding plate on a table as if to say “Time to eat, Mommy”.
For children like Artur and Zhenia, with your support and generous donations, we run vital emergency fostering services – unprecedented and pioneering care solution in Ukraine. They are a proof that a safe and caring family environment is the best place for a child, essential for their growth and development. Unfortunately, for many Ukrainian children they are still not available since there is simply no concept of short-term foster care. Each month within Kyiv city alone there are 10 to 12 children in an emergency situation at risk of being deprived of parental care and placed in residential care. Practice shows that 9 out of 10 children tend to remain in residential care for significantly longer than the initially negotiated 6 months’ period. Lack of competence causes many instances where the family crisis remains professionally unresolved.
In January 2013, three siblings – 6 year old Nastia*, 3 year old Ivanko* and 2 year old Olenka* were placed in the short-term foster care to protect them from risks to their health and lives. Their mother, uncle and grandmother were having severe alcohol dependence; children were exposed to violence and neglect. “Their conditions were petrifying, - says Larysa, an emergency foster carer of the children. Olenka could only eat biscuits and could sit on the chair for hours without moving. Ivanko did not talk and couldn’t recognise any attachment to his sisters. While Nastia was threating to run away and refused to listen at the beginning.” Three months onwards: “Olenka is very curious and sociable, she likes role playing with her dolls and eating grown up meals: soups, meatballs and pasta. Ivanko is attached to his foster “Daddy”, who jokingly calls him “my tail”. He enjoys going to the kindergarten with his little sister.” In Nastia’s case, because of traumatic experience of domestic violence she was receiving professional counselling which enabled her better recovery. In April 2013, children found the new family who adopted the siblings due to their biological mother’s inability and unwillingness to take care of children.
Currently, we are working on recruiting new foster families and training professionals to support more kids like Nastia, Ivan, Olenka, Artur and Zhenia. We really appreciate your help with this project which we recently started on GlobalGiving. Only $10 pay for 1 hour of counselling to help a child cope with the traumatic experience. Just over $200 will pay for an emergency foster care to keep 1 vulnerable child safe for a month. Your donations will not only help us to provide crisis care to children in need, they will also send a powerful message of your belief that loving homes and caring families are the best place for children.
We are so grateful!
* All names of the children have been changed to protect confidentiality. The children pictured are not the subject of the case study stories.
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