Care in Action was founded in Germany in 1998 to respond to the urgent needs of children in Ukraine. A local sister organisation "Turbota v Dii" was founded in Lviv in 2011. Then in 2015 we began Sponsorship in Malawi. Jasmine Lehnis-Leitao (left) is Director of Care in Action, and Maria Boiko (right) is Director in Ukraine. In 2022 our Ukraine team has grown from 9 to 22 employees. Our volunteers are important, with 120-200 people active every year to help children.
How Care in Action Developed
Our story follows, as told by Care in Action Founder Werner Lehnis. Sadly he passed away in July 2022. Those who know him will be aware of his brave fight with cancer. In Werner’s final months he received many messages from Ukraine, with people remembering his care and how his work was done with great personal empathy and attention to detail. Werner was active for Ukraine into his last weeks of life, showing concern and giving advice to the 23 refugees he helped to find a home and adapt to life in Germany. Werner was happy to know that the work he started in 1998, together with his wife Janice, will carry on. Werner is remembered with great affection and his values continue to inspire our work.
Our Story - from Founder Werner Lehnis
As I introduce how Care in Action developed, I would like to express our gratitude to our sponsors, supporters, staff and volunteers, who make our work possible. It’s encouraging to see that thousands of children and hundreds of carers now have increased ability and self-reliance. Thank you very much!
Having discovered the enormous need within all aspects of orphan care in Ukraine, I organised our first humanitarian aid projects in 1997. Though I was familiar with the sad effects of severe poverty and corruption on the weakest sections of society from my time of working in India and Nepal, some of the situations I saw were heart breaking.
So in response my wife Janice and I founded Care in Action eV in Munich in 1998. We launched larger aid projects which eventually embraced thousands of orphans, vulnerable children and families at risk. We rebuilt critical facilities, such as orphanage roofs, bathrooms and kitchens, and furnished bedrooms and classrooms.
To drive change within the social care system, especially for moving away from outdated institutions, we organised conferences, round table discussions and international experience exchanges on “Family style care models”.
At the same time a generational change was taking place. Some of the educated post-soviet youth were also concerned about these social issues. Volunteers, employees and expert consultants got involved to help us deliver programmes for child development. In 2011 we set up a sister organisation in Lviv, ‘Turbota v Dii’, which is governed by its own Board of Trustees.
We extended our partnerships into Malawi to support education for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. By working with two community based organisations we improve early child development and use our sponsorship programme to give some of the world’s poorest children the opportunity to complete secondary school.
By 2015 we began programmes to support the efforts of foster families and family based care in Ukraine. Care in Action – Turbota v Dii has become a respected name in the field of professional care in Ukraine, helping to raise awareness of the issues faced by children in care and to disseminate best practice methods for caring for children.
Developing our strategy and team
To meet the needs of children in care we developed a holistic approach, to directly help the individual child, support their carers to improve their environment, and partner with others to make a greater, more sustainable difference. Many heart breaking experiences in traditional children’s homes confirmed our motto:
“Children need more than food, a roof over their head and basic education, they also need family, love and positive integration into society.”
Ukrainian colleagues made valuable contributions to developing our programmes, together with our volunteers, expert consultants, and our Ukrainian Board. We have built a strong team and together with my wife Janice, they all contribute considerably to our projects and have become a skilled and specialised force for good.
To improve care expertise in Ukraine we launched a training curriculum based on the best practice care model “Providing a Secure Base” by Prof. Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek of the University of East Anglia. This has been used in most regions of Ukraine to train foster parents and we are supporting its continued use in governmental and non-governmental organisations.
I see our impact on care leavers like Anna Pavlyna, who had great difficulty finding and keeping a job. After extensive assistance she found a stable workplace and can now manage her life independently. In Malawi, after four years of education sponsorship, Promise Matope passed her exams with merit and we will help her to study Child Health Nursing. When I see care leavers like Hennadiy proudly joining our Ukraine staff, because they want to help others like them, I feel our work is worth every effort.
Thank you for your involvement and support.
Werner Lehnis, Founder (Deceased July 2022)
There is still an urgent need to protect children and promote family-based care in Ukraine. So many more children are vulnerable now because of war. Many children's instituions have closed or moved abroad and children are even more at risk of abuse, neglect and poverty. This is an opportunity for us to protect children who are displaced, and to help children who usually live in instituions to have the support they need with relatives or with foster families.
With our expertise and funding from donors we are giving displaced children a safe place to stay and continue their education. We are finding ways to protect and support children in vulnerable families. And Foster Families have the help they need through our Therapist-led Support Groups and individual support. In Malawi our education projects have resulted in children from the poorest families growing up to attend university. Our work means that children can still have the education and security they need to grow up to succeed in life.
If you want to get involved or learn more then please contact us today. Together, we really can change lives.
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