Ludmilla's story shows so clearly how little the support we're giving young people in orphanages has in common with the attitude of the regular staff in those institutions. Ludmilla should be proud of herself, and so should you. She might not have found her job without your support, so thank you!
Usually in the summer holidays all the orphanage residents are sent to summer camps. This year several members of our support group, all of them over eighteen, decided that they would like to get a job during the holidays. They turned to us for help. They had a real difficulty in negotiating with the administration and care staff, who were determined not to take any risks and to take them to the summer camp with the rest. They also would have to find somewhere to live because the "children's home" would be closed through the summer.
To begin with five people wanted to work, but three of them were persuaded to give up on their plans. The other two were quite firm in their intentions. One of these was Ludmilla.
Of course, these first steps towards independence on their part needed support. Ludmilla decided not to talk to the administration about her plans, but to be as independent as possible. She regularly updated us on her progress and this is what happened.
Ludmilla and her friend found work as auxiliaries in the surgical department of a local hospital where they had both undergone treatment. Ludmilla describes how she found the job:
"I find it very interesting there, it's all familiar to me. Children stay there when they are having an operation. I can see how upset the parents get, how they cry and don't know how to help their children. At night I can spend time with the patients and look after them after their operation. The doctors like me and the patients' families thank me. I feel that I am needed and that there's something I can actually do."
Ludmilla solved her accommodation problem very simply. She and her friend rented a room from a friend. This was a huge step towards independence. Ludmilla phones us to tell to us what is going on at work and we give her support and encouragement.
We are delighted that Ludmilla has exceeded the low expectations of orphanage staff, many of whom see independence as just too big a risk and unwittingly reinforce a dependency culture, which leaves many orphanage leavers incapable of working.