BY ANNA COX
At Viva, we believe that every child should grow up with a loving, caring and supportive family, yet sadly this is too often not the case.
Adoption provides the opportunity for children who – through death, addiction, emotional, psychological or economic reasons – do not have a family that can care for them, to be given a second chance with a new family.
We understand just how important this is, and that is why our partner networks in many countries are working to reintegrate children with their own existing families, or to find families who can adopt them. In countries where the number of children separated from their parents is high, orphanages have become a common way to provide children with a home where they can be kept safe, fed and given education.
Whilst it is important that children have these necessities, there are many important provisions that a child needs when growing up that orphanages and institutions that care for children en masse are unable to ensure.
Children need to know they are valued and loved, no matter if they are well-behaved or rebellious. They need time when people who care for them will give their undivided attention. In a home such as an orphanage, with so many children to look after, this level of emotional care is just not possible for every child.
Significant problems also arise when a child grows too old for the orphanage. They must leave and care for themselves. Often, they do not have enough support during this time, which is daunting for any child, and they are left without a support network of people who love them.
In Honduras, where many children are placed in orphanages if they are not living with their families, our network notices that such children can become ‘institutionalised’.
Maria Luna (right) volunteers for Viva in Honduras. She helps to run a programme called ‘Viva Adult’ which works with young people who have grown up in orphanages, and helps to support them after they leave the care system. She told us a story of Jocelyn, one of the girls she works with.
Jocelyn was the youngest of a family of six children. Sadly, she grew up in a violent home, her father disappeared and mother found that she could no longer look after Jocelyn so she abandoned her.
Jocelyn was taken into an orphanage where she grew up, and was protected, cared for and educated.
As she grew older and closer to the end of her time at the orphanage, Jocelyn took part in one of Viva’s programmes that teaches skills to children as they get ready to move out of the orphanage. She received coaching, mentoring, skills development training and more practical work experience to help her to find a job and provide for herself independently.
We are delighted that Jocelyn developed many skills during her work experience in an employer’s business. They noticed her commitment and dedication to the work and offered her a job with them. Jocelyn continues to work for the employer and Maria has noticed that she has grown to be a responsible person with great prospects in life.
Although Jocelyn has been well supported on leaving the orphanage and has successfully found herself a job and good lifestyle, not all children do so well after leaving care in Latin America.
We at Viva are trying to bridge this gap so that children in Honduras will have a support network even after they leave their home. As Maria said, “We can support them so that when they leave the institutional surrounding their life does not fail and disintegrate. Rather they can really have true success and enjoy the rights of all adults: employment and independence.”
Top: GPE/Paul Martinez
Bottom: EU/ECHO/A. Aragón 2016