Igor's story shows the ups and downs of growing up in the care system. We are proud of the responsible and capable young man he has become with some support from Care in Action.
Igor was 8 when he was taken away from his mother to live in an orphanage. His younger brother and sister were placed in a separate institution. After a year, Igor accepted an offer to join a foster family so he could be reunited with his siblings. The orphanage staff tried to discourage him from leaving so they could keep the state funding per child in their care.
At the time there were very few services available for foster families. The strain of caring for seven children from difficult circumstances became too much and the father left the family. It was at this time, when Igor was 11, that Werner and Janice first visited the family and arranged regular support from Care in Action.
Sadly, foster mother Tania had diabetes and died when Igor was 18. The children were devastated and terrified of returning to a state institution. Igor was the oldest and felt responsible to keep the family together.
Igor says “When social services came that evening to take us away we refused to leave. We didn’t know what would happen and were scared, but we did not give up. We were so relieved when later a new foster mother came to stay with us. It helped a lot that we had got to know her at the Care in Action Family Camps.”
“I don’t remember the moment when Care in Action volunteers first appeared in my life because it seems like they were always somewhere close by and I felt their support. We had fun TOGETHER programme activities and went to the Family Camps in the summer, which were always so much fun and a highlight of the year for us.
“The last years of school always bring difficult choices. I had a dream to go the best academy for graphic design in L’viv but my grades were not so good. Care in Action volunteers gave me special tutoring for a whole year to prepare for the entrance exams and I passed! I know for sure I would not have made it without their help. This year I am finishing my fourth year of studies and will have a Degree in Graphic Design. At the same time I am supporting myself with a part time job in car repairs.
“At STEP activities I learnt important life skills and met other teenagers who have similar life situations. I noticed that I became more confident and understood that only I am responsible for my life. This year I was part of a presentation to an audience of 300 people at a pro deinstitutionalization conference, with the Teens in Action club. It was a rare opportunity for teenagers from care to share their personal experiences. People were impressed that we had the confidence to speak up. I was nervous but I didn’t give up!
“I feel how I have grown and I want to help other children to have happier lives. For anyone who wants to help an orphan, I would recommend not to bring presents and sweets. If you really want to make a child happy, help them to find a good family and become a good person. This is why I like the philosophy of Care in Action, they help in a way that supports the family and develops the ability and character of children.”
Igor is one of our most active volunteers. As the eldest in his family it comes naturally to care for others, and he hopes to be a foster parent one day. Igor says that being a volunteer is not like work but more like being a friend, because for him Care in Action is a big family where everyone is ready to listen and help.
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