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!
Our Story - from Co-Founder Werner Lehnis
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To drive change within the social care system, especially for moving away from outdated institutions, we organised conferences, round table discussions and international experience exchanges on “Family style care models”.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
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.”
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.
People such as Yaryna Ponizhay, Maria Putilina, Khrystia Katola, and later on Olena Semchuk, made valuable contributions to developing our programmes, together with our longest serving volunteers, expert consultants, and our Ukrainian Board with leaders like Maria Budajeva. 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.
There is still a great need to support family-based care in Ukraine, and many more children in Ukraine and Malawi who can have a better future with our help.
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 two years of education sponsorship, Thokozani Penda passed her secondary school exams with merit and went to university. 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.
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