February 21, 2020

Guardian Angels step up to mentor children

Children who don’t have parents to care for them will get individual mentoring, thanks to our February training session for volunteers. 17 people joined our 3 day course to learn about mentoring, the special needs of children who need our support, and how to help in the best way.

The children who need support are identified through our work or through requests from Social Services. They might be in a state children’s home, in a Family Type Orphanage or in a family connected to a crisis centre.

The reality of the children’s needs was brought home when one trainer, psychotherapist Maria Sakvuk, invited the group to write on the flipchart the roles played by a father and mother. Then she tore the page down and tossed it aside, to show the empty place left when there is no one to fill those roles. One trainee later called her family to let them know how much she appreciated them.

The people who volunteered for training were from a good mix of backgrounds and ages, both women and men. Our team is delighted that many of them are willing to mentor teenagers, as this is such a crucial age when young people prepare to look after themselves. The volunteers commit to giving at least an hour a week for one year.

Our team recognises the need for ongoing supervision, safeguarding and professional counselling to make our Guardian Angel tutoring and mentoring programme a success. Team members Khrystia Katola, Natalya Krushelnytska and Bohdana Luhova make this possible, along with their other work. There are currently 51 children served and soon more children from our waiting list can be helped.

A new mentor told of her first meeting with Bianka, an 8 year old girl who has no parents and lives with her uncle, who is also raising his own 7 children singlehandedly. They live in a small apartment on a low income, and family life is unruly.

“Bianka was shy at first, but when she realised I could give her attention she said “You must help only me… you can buy me a doll… you will be my Mum.” I explained that I was there to be her friend.” - Care in Action mentor

The good news is that we can help children and teenagers like Bianka to gain the acceptance, self-esteem and confidence they need. Half of the group are moving ahead to become mentors by getting the required police checks and paperwork from Social Services.

For other trainers, like Peter who is a university lecturer, they will use the mentoring skills at their workplace. Another trainee regularly raises funds for children and the training has changed her ideas about the best way to donate. Our Director of Operations, Jasmine Lehnis-Leitao, explained at the start of the training that one of our goals is to inform the public about the challenges faced by children without parental care to reduce stigma and create a supportive community.

“Take a moment to remember someone who was a mentor to you, what did they give you? You can give this to a child. For children with trauma this is not easy, but you can help them to learn emotional and social skills and develop their potential.” – Maria Sakvuk

If you would like to mentor in Ukraine, give English or German tutoring via Skype, or donate to improve lives, then contact us today.

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