Today is Global Day of Parents, a day to appreciate the love and commitment parents show to their children around the world. To celebrate this day, we’re sharing three stories of brilliant parents who fought for their children, adopted children, and rebuilt relationships with their children following the devastating impact of orphanages.
All too often, interconnecting factors like poverty, access to healthcare and education, and a misrepresentation of the orphanage system mean parents are unnecessarily separated from the children they love. Today, and every day, we support parents and fight to keep families together. Because children deserve families, never harmful orphanages.
Here are 3 incredible stories of love from parents worldwide, and the work we have done to support them.
Fighting to keep their family together
Vasilica* was only four months old and his sister, Ecaterina*, was just one when they were sent to live in the orphanage. Vasilica was born prematurely with cerebral palsy. Poverty and discrimination made it very hard for his mum, Ana*, to care for him alone, without adequate support.
The authorities thought both her children would be better off in an institution. But orphanages don’t protect children, they harm them.
Ana battled for two years to bring her children home again. Through our local partners, CCF Moldova, we made sure she had the practical and emotional support that she needed to succeed. “I saw that Ana loved her children and she fought for them,” says Natalia, the experienced social worker who stood by her, every step of the way.
In the orphanage, Vasilica spent long hours alone in a cot with no one to play with him, encourage him or love him. Today, reunited with his family, he’s a very active, much-loved little boy who likes building tall towers with his wooden blocks and playing chase with his sister.
Creating a new family for Uwera*
One evening, Atete heard cries from the trees near her yard. There, she found Uwera, a newborn baby girl, abandoned on the ground. Atete scooped Uwera up, took her home and cared for her for three weeks while the community tried to find Uwera’s parents. Once it was clear that no trace could be found, the authorities insisted that Uwera must be taken to an orphanage. Atete was heartbroken. She knew that the last thing an orphanage would provide was the first thing that Uwera needed: someone to love her.
For two years, Uwera struggled in terrible conditions in two different orphanages. She slept on the floor with insects crawling over her and she was fed just once every 24 hours. Shouted at if she made the slightest noise, Uwera stayed silent and struggled simply to survive.
Luckily, following a new commitment by the Rwandan Government to end the use of orphanages, our specialist child protection team in Rwanda was able to work with their local authority partners to close the orphanage and give Uwera back her childhood, reuniting her with Atete.
Uwera has been with her new family for 3 years now. Today, she’s walking and talking, running and jumping. Atete’s older children love to play in their little home. Soon Uwera will begin nursery alongside the other children in her community, and Atete has applied to officially adopt her so that they’ll never be separated again.
Rebuilding their family with love
One morning in 2013, Devi was travelling with her mother when their train stopped at a busy railway junction. Without telling her mum, Devi jumped down to fill up her water bottle. While her back was turned, the signal changed and their train pulled out, leaving Devi behind.
For the next seven years, Devi was moved from institution to institution, but no effort was ever made to trace her relatives and reunite her with her family.
In 2015, Devi was sent to live in a shelter for girls in the heart of Ranchi City, the capital of Jharkhand state. This is where she first met Neepa, a social worker with the development NGO, CINI. With support from Hope and Homes for Children, Neepa and her colleagues worked with Devi to recall details about her childhood, contacting local authorities and visiting station after station and asking local people if they knew of a child going missing seven years ago. Until, finally, they found her family again.
When Devi’s father saw her again after seven long years, tears of joy rolled down his face. Sadly, Devi’s mother had never returned but her father now had a new partner and a son. Devi’s oldest sister lived with them too.
The day that Devi officially rejoined her family was very moving for everyone. “Devi cried with emotion as she struggled to find the confidence she needed for the next stage of her extraordinary journey,” Neepa said. “Then she hugged her parents and smiled back at us as she stepped back into a life of love, affection and family care again at last,” she remembers.
How we support families
We keep families together, we reunite families, and we create new families. Family, children and parents are at the heart of everything we do. The three stories shared above show how our global teams work tirelessly to keep families together.
We believe that a child is always better off as part of a strong, supported family. That’s why we’re working to close the doors of orphanages forever so that no child has to be separated from their parents and face the long-lasting harm orphanages cause.
If you would like to donate to our work supporting loving parents and keeping families together, you can do so here. Thank you.