So today we have witnessed a lot of things, changing our mind and perception of what is important, I will do my best to guide you through this day!
It started at the hotel reception with a group picture of us all in our nice IKEA Foundation shirts!
Getting ready for the day - meeting at the hotel reception
Then we headed of to the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, meeting Simona Bronusiene, working with Child Right Protection. Simona told us about the work they were doing for the children, all from improving the system of family support, family consulting, social workers and so on.
Some figures that she presented to us showed that in 2012 there were 10 389 social risk families, that means families with parents that are either lacking parental skills or they have some kind of abuse, alcoholic or drug related. In those families there are 21 303 children, most of them over 10 years and new inserted families had mostly children under 3 years of age. These children can go to day care centres after school, I will tell you about this later on.
Here we are together with Simona Bronusiene learning about the situation for the children in Lithuania.
At the Ministry for Social Security and Labour
After this meeting it was time to go to Ukmurge which is a 60 km trip away from Vilnius. Ukmurge is a city with about 20 000 inhabitants. We got the chance to visit a child care institution of the Ukmerge municipality.
In this institution 80 children are living today, in what they called families. Each family has their own living space that is meant to look like a “normal” home. This means that it has a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Here you can see how it looks:
Child care institution of the Ukmerge municipality
Child care institution - the bedrooms
In one “Family” can be children in different ages but they are still in the same age group and some of them are siblings.
The most striking thing for me was the fact that the institution is not what I first thought it would look like. In my mind a institution is a place that has very poor standards, smells bad and the children look damaged. This institution was in good shape, mostly renovated recently and didn’t smell bad at all. Some of the children wanted to talk to us, despite all of what they had or going through, they had a smile on their faces when they saw us.
With that being said, it was in my point of view way too clean to see that actually children are living there and we also have been told that when a child comes to an institution that is the last resort. Then nothing else had been working. The other options being day care centres, foster families or adoption. With this in mind it was tough to meet these wonderful children from ages 0 to 18.
Hopefully these children can be together with their families again or adopted, meanwhile I really hope that they are somewhat okay and if they are staying in the intuition until their 18th birthday, I hope that they find the power to brake this and grow up to be a good and caring adult.
All of the “Families” have their own name and one “Family” is called the Kite Family and the hallway was decorated with kites, it was a happy sight.
The Kite Family rooms
The Kite Family rooms II
Before we were leaving the institution we saw the library, it was a small room packed with books! When we came it was two young girls reading to each other and when they saw us they were running out laughing typical girls laugh, it was that kind of laughter that makes you warm in the heart and I am sure that they were talking girl talk!
In this library was a librarian working, the cutest old lady, the oldest one in the building she said. She told us that about 15 to 20 children there reading there every day, but not on a sunny day, and today was a sunny day.
Laimlite Malcanova, Bibliotekininke - the librarian
Before we left we met an old and dear friend, FAMNIG heart pillow
Meeting an old and dear friend, FAMNIG the IKEA heart pillow
Before we headed home we went to visit a day care centre where children of social risk families come after school to do homework and play.
These centre’s are a big and important part of these children’s life because it is a safe place for them. Here they can be a child for a while. Social workers are around that can talk to the children.
Each Tuesday the centre gets a delivery from the grocery stores and they get food with short expire dates. This they can hand out to the children so they can take some food home with them.
I am very thankful to have been to this places and that we have been welcomed by many different people that have showed us this, so thank you!
Our group outside the day care centre
See you soon!