Fight, people, and be persistent, strong, and believe that there is hope and love, because Hope and homes for children change destinies! Fates and mistakes are only ours, not people’s. My dream has come true, people, just believe. ”
I face a small house with whitewashed walls and a door that seems to have been absorbed by the stories of the time. I touch a hand to the wooden surface, on which the paint has failed to hide the traces of the wood flutter. I open it and the sun’s rays invade with us and from the semi-darkness of the room a beautiful young woman aged about 21-24 approaches. Her two hands are constantly looking for each other as if they will be lost in the conversation, and when one inadvertently adjusts the locks of hair, the other impatiently moves and describes movements in the air and as if she can’t wait to get back together. Maya has a beautiful smile and a ringing voice that makes us remember the story of our acquaintance. Now in Maya’s family there is a supportive man and two boys who are building their harmonious environment in a village with 22 inhabitants. There is no public transport here and the road is almost impassable. A village near the border with two countries. Here, time seems to have stopped, but people are born, grow up, go through their lives and everything that happens to them affects future generations.
Maya seems to be trying to tame the memories within herself to begin her story. Her hands, clenched into fists and slightly trembling, lie on her lap, her eyes staring at the door.
“My childhood started in the neighboring village, and then we moved here. One day I woke up and realized that my mother had run away. Then Dad took us to Grandma and she started looking at me and my sister. My father raised sheep, which he sold and went to look for my mother somewhere in Germany. With the little money we had, Grandma had a hard time. In her despair and helplessness, she invited a TV crew to tell the story of two children abandoned by their mother. The show aroused interest, but one day the “social people” appeared at our door and took me to a “safe place” – a children’s home. This is the most horrible place I’ve ever been – a child alone, without loved ones, without compassion, without the freedom to be… Beatings were everyday, humiliations were constant, and the worst thing for me was the rapes I experienced from the elders… … “.
Maya involuntarily clenched her fists so hard that her fingers turned white, and a vein in her forehead began to pulsate with memories. Before the children’s homes closed, it was very easy to accommodate a child. These places were considered safe, and since most were in remote places, no one had heard of life there. The children in them were an excuse for the existence of the Institutions.
“Maya, what happened to you after you left the Institution?”
“I was happy!” I studied and in my free time I went to graze goats. It is very difficult to grow up without a mother! A 30-year-old man “fell in love” with me, but when he found out I was pregnant, he started beating me severely and I had a miscarriage. I returned home ashamed, and as a punishment I was shaved and sent to become a shepherd of country animals. For me, childhood was over, and what future could I expect?
Many of the children raised in orphanages left without the necessary knowledge to find work, habits, no education, no ability to communicate with different people, and were often trafficked, abused, or forced to steal.
“I experienced the greatest happiness when I met Angel, with whom we have been together for 4 years. He truly loves me and supports me. Take care when I’m sick, take care of the children, work and we have food and shelter. Simeon was born four years ago. He was very small and the doctors said he was ill and sent him to Sofia for treatment. ”
Simeon is not visited by his parents, perhaps because Sofia is far away, or they did not have money, or for some other reason. The social workers place him in a foster family and after a year return him to the parents who want their child. This is also the time when our team built trust and trained the Child Protection Departments on how to make ACTIVE family support. At that time, a ban was issued for the placement of healthy children in the Home for medical and social care for children and we actively worked for the removal of children from this institution. Within a few months, Maya’s family was able to overcome their crisis and the love and care they showed for the child allowed us to fall back.
“Fight for your children!” During the nights when Simeon was not with us, I woke up from nightmares. Memories from the Children’s Home screamed in my ears, the moans of the beaten, crying, loud crying, torn clothes …… .and my child somewhere there …… .. Your team taught me how to take care of a family, restored my confidence in institutions and so we decided to have a second child. Marin was an expected and desired child. His birth began abruptly in the eighth month. I was all alone in the house, I called 112, but the ambulance was getting slower and slower. By the time they arrived, I had already given birth and had his umbilical cord cut off. I trembled and prayed for his life. I was very scared! I saw the doctors and it was as if someone else was screaming, but the words came out of my mouth: “Take the child! I do not want it! I don’t want him! ”And I longed for him so much! The CPD placed Marin in a foster family. I am grateful that you were by my side when I was being treated, when I wanted to see Marin and you always helped us. You supported us to fill in all kinds of documents so that the child could live with us. When your team came, I regained the belief that Marin would return home.
Maya’s hands, relaxed, fall into her lap, and flames run through her eyes, and the excitement takes over her whole body.
“I will not forget the first night when Marin returned to us. We had had several meetings with him and he knew us, but his close people were the foster parents with whom he had lived for almost a year. He was afraid of the new place, he had no desire to communicate with anyone. Even the food refused to eat, but the food on the first night made him trust us again. The place of the children is with the parents. People, do not abandon your children! With the support of Hope and homes for children – Bulgaria I managed to keep my children and have confidence in social workers. They are the ones who sent me in to the institution, but also the ones who returned my children home.
The family lives on the border, the border we all reached. The closure of children’s institutions will not repeat this model, in which the child’s right to live in a family environment is taken away. The children of most of the adults in institutions end up there again and everything repeats itself, as in a vicious circle. We crossed the border and instead of warehouses for children, the state began to develop services to support such families. Today, the road we are on has a direction, but it is paved everywhere with difficulties and there is no insurance against future crises. It is important with the changes to lead people to a better future.
The children manage to say so much in a few words, and our team is very inspired by the sweet sound of children’s voices and “Mom, I love you!”.