Susanne Drakborg, Country Manager Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland & Ukraine

Work skills training in Lithuania

Childhood is supporting the Lithuanian organisation Atsigrezk i Vaikus. During our latest visit we discussed the Work Skills Training programme, previously funded by Childhood. We met two young women – both orphanage graduates – who are participating in the programme and are training to become a waitress and a maid. Radisson Hotel in Vilnius has committed to employing at least 3 of the orphanage graduates. When asked if they felt that the atmosphere among the students was competitive, one of the women answered: “No, it does not feel competitive at all.” Then she added with a smile: “I know I am the best and that I will get a job at Radisson”.

/Susanne

The photo is from a hotel in Vilnius, however it is not the Radisson.

Ylva Queisser, Country Manager Germany

Behind a pile of paper

So, here I am again, sitting behind a huge pile of paper sent to me from different German organisations applying for funding from Childhood. Right now is the most stressful and demanding time of the year – but at the same time the most exciting and positive!

Childhood accepts project proposals two times a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn. We know most of the organisations who apply; often we deal with follow-up applications as we prefer to stay with our project partners over a longer time. But every call for applications contains something new and something unexpected, and new meetings with fire souls and children from great projects.

And this is of course the best thing about our work – behind all the papers arriving in my office, I have to go out to meet and see all the projects in reality. A couple of weeks ago, one of our project partners here in Berlin – the Mother-Child-House Jörg Sommerlath – invited me to join them on a trip. In this home, teenage mothers who are not able to care for their children on their own, live together with their children. It is not easy to be a teenage mother, to take care of a little baby and at the same time try to finish school. And it is not easy becoming a father if you have no place to live, no job and debts. When asking the girls, what kind of support they wish for in their everyday life, their answer is often “What I want is a family that works; I want more support from my partner in raising my child”.

So, in 2010 the project “Fathers and partners take on responsibility” started with support from Childhood and the objective is to support the fathers to manage their lives and stabilize their situation, so that they in a next step can bond with their children and take on more responsibility for them. One way to do this is to go on a trip for a week, just the fathers and their children: to spend time together, to explore life together with a child and learn from each other. As it was a trip for fathers and their children, I was the only mother. I brought my son, so I wouldn’t stick out too much! We had a fantastic time and it was very motivating to see the fathers and their kids together and to hear them talk about the project as something really important for them.

Photo: Jörg Sommerlath Haus

 

It is very uncommon for a Mother-Child-House to work with fathers, and that was exactly what Childhood liked about this project. It’s innovative and it is trying out new methods. After trying out the concept for almost three years now, it is soon time to share the gained knowledge and insight. For next year, the project is planning a symposium. To the symposium, the organisation will invite professionals working in their area to share experiences from the project.

I will be happy to tell you more about the results next spring – now I’ll have to get back to my pile of paper!

/Ylva

 

Britta Holmberg, Project Director

Project visits and reality

 

Britta in South Africa

I am writing my travel report from my last trip to South Africa together with Anna De Geer, Secretary General at Childhood, a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those trips when the unexpected caused problems again and again. I guess it is called reality. Everything from snowstorms and misunderstood project plans in Johannesburg, to riots and sad news in Cape Town.

In South Africa, Childhood supports 13 different organizations. This means that you need to do at least 13 visits in two cities located 1200 kilometers apart during one trip to South Africa, which is not always easy. Ideally, the visits should be meaningful, not just office meetings with project managers. We want to meet the children, parents, volunteers and staff members when we travel and as often as possible we want to be part of activities within the projects.

It did not go so well this time. It started with us ending up in Johannesburg’s first snowfall in 20 years. And when it is cold in South Africa, it is cold! But this was only the beginning. Our participation in a parent group session was cancelled because the group leader’s mother died the night before. We intended to do homevisits and see informal preschools in the township of Gugulethu. but at that moment, there were violent riots with stone-throwing and burned cars in Gugulethu. The organisation who was organizing the visit did not want to risk taking us there. The same thing happened in Khayelitsha where we were going to attend a workshop for children who are victims of violence and abuse. When we were told that all roads to the airport were blocked by containers and crowds of people, we felt that we had to leave early for our flights. Luckily the roads were open by then so we were able to pass, but the multitude of heavily armed police and tightly parked police cars indicated that things had not been peaceful.

We arrived safely in Sweden with fewer project visits made but with a lot of new experiences. Left in the cold and the troubles are of course the children, parents and project staff that we support. This is what their reality looks like. However, the kids that threw their first snowballs were very happy at that very moment!

/Britta

The photo is from my trip to South Africa in February 2012
Photographer: Mikael Silkeberg