Hope and homes for children – Bulgaria organized an interactive consultation session with 14 children aged between 8 and 17. The session was aimed at discussing the existing institutional system for child care, the harms that institutions bring upon children’s psychological, emotional and physical development and the ideas and suggestions that the children participating in the consultation have so as to improve the state of children’s lives.
The programme coordinator and focal CPP person presented the children with a short presentation on the current situation in institutions, what the characteristic reasons for the placement of children in institutions are, what the real situation of their families is and what the consequences of the isolated and lonely life in the institution are for children. After the presentation, children took a look at a series of short films which presented the harms of institutional care, as well as what the real experiences of people, who were once confined to an institution or those who had no other option but to give their child into an institution are.
After the movies the children were separated in two groups and had two questions to think about:
- What they would like to say to the decision makers?
- What they would do in order to support the children currently in institutions?
The idea was that all children would finally end up with a sort of document, letter, appeal or list of guidelines they would like to take up to the decision makers, in which they present their thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Children had the opportunity to be very creative – work on their own, in groups with other children, to paint, draw, write and model down their ideas and thoughts so that they would be understandable for the decision makers.
The topic was quite difficult, especially for the younger children. It was interesting that they found it hard to even imagine how and why other children would be confined to life in an institution, with no love and real care. Children suggested that decision makers should think how they were once also children and how their own children could be in an institution. Would they want such a life for them? Children appealed for more caretakers who would have the time and opportunity to provide individual care for the babies and they suggested that children in institutions should be given more chances to play with one another, to express themselves through their hobbies and to go outside and be like the rest of the children. The older participants in the session decided they would come up with a letter, addressed to the decision makers, that combines the individual appeals and thoughts of the children. Once the full letter is agreed upon by the group – it will be published.