Olga has three children, two girls and a boy. She grew up in a children's home and so did her mother. This is why she found it difficult to bond with her children. With her two boys she says, “I was on auto-pilot. I didn’t feel anything towards them.” Bonding with her third child was easier, and now she has a much closer relationship with them. She is still working hard to improve her family life.
Olga recently agreed to have her story published in a booklet we wrote to help social workers and psychologists understand the outlook of parents who grew up in orphanages. She really hopes that this will help them help other people in her situation. We hope her story will also give you an idea of how our summer camps, which you have contributed so generously towards, help our families make long-term changes in their lives. Olga and her children also comes to our family support centre through the year. She describes the long journey she's taken to get to the point where she can ask for help and realise she isn't alone.
"After I left the orphanage I went to study so that I wouldn't fall in with a bad crowd. I got my certificate and then I started another course because I didn't have anywhere else to go. I wasn't given a room straight away. When I got my room I already had my son. But what to do with him? Thank you to the neighbour who told me I should wash him. Every time there was a problem I called an ambulance. I felt abandoned and then I had another son. My husband drank and worked and I was left alone with the children. I didn't find out straight away when I was pregnant the third time, but I was very glad when I found out it would be a girl.
I often wanted someone from the centre to come and ask me how they could help me. I had so much pain stored up inside and I wanted to tell someone about it. The first time I went on the summer camp it was really difficult. I wanted to run away and hide, but I had to solve my own problems. I wanted to open up, but instead I got frustrated and behaved badly. I couldn't openly ask for help. The second time was easier and I noticed more about how I was behaving. One day, my daughter was being naughty at lunch. She wouldn't eat and nothing I did was right. So, I took her and left and we both went hungry. I expected one of the specialists to come after me, but nobody did. My daughter didn't understand what was happening and didn't say sorry and I didn't know what to do. At home I would have simply ignored her or shouted at her, but here you couldn't do that. I dreamt about this day. It really bothered me, but I didn't want to admit that I really needed help, that I didn't know what to do. I've got three children, but I never learnt how to ask for help. Instead, I run away and clam up and expect someone to come after me and offer to help. It took me three years taking part in the programme to realise that I need help and that I can ask for it openly.
I've learnt such a lot from the programme. I've learnt how to behave with my daughter, how to deal with her when she's being naughty, how to respond when she asks for something, how to look her in the eye when I talk to her, and how to play with her. I've missed out on so much with my sons. I should have started when they were younger because it's much more difficult to start now. I really love watching my daughter laughing and enjoying what we have between us.
We have so much pain inside that we can’t deal with it alone, nothing’s like we think it is. We’re grown up but we need someone to listen to us and free us from what we’ve lived through. We also have to learn to ask for help, but I still find that very difficult.”
This year's summer camp starts soon. Look out for our report in about a month's time when we'll tell you how our families have got on. If you are UK-based, you might like to know that between 1st and 8th September GlobalGiving UK are adding 50% to donations. If you'd like to be reminded nearer the time, please e-mail Sarah Gale (firstname.lastname@example.org) or "like" our Facebook page.