Charlotte Brandin, Executive Director USA

Childhood USA projects visits

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LSC, PHE, SFCAC, FAP, CAC, GRADS are abbreviations of several of the projects that Childhood support in the US. And most of them received a visit in recent weeks, as part of our ongoing monitoring and evaluation process.

The first Children’s Advocacy Center opened in San Francisco on February 26. Before, children who hard been sexually assaulted were evaluated in the basement of SF General Hospital, and then sent all over the city for follow-up services or legal action. Now, the CAC is co-located with the Center for Youth Wellness, and the CPMC Bayview Pediatric Center to assist families in a holistic framework. Read more about trauma and how to prevent sexual abuse at www.centerforyouthwellness.org and www.sfcabc.org.

Peer Health Exchange in New York and San Francisco Bay Area receive support from Childhood, and are two of the 6 cities where PHE is active. In one of the schools in the Bronx, we participated in a 9th class where they were taught pregnancy prevention methods, such as condom use, STIs and Plan B. Many of the teens were knowledgeable of some of the methods but very often lack access to birth control and information about disease. In Oakland, CA, as may as 70% of teens suffer from PTSD due to trauma in their neighborhoods, and in their families. Read more about their work with inner-city youth at www.peerhealthexchange.org.

Legal Services for Children is one of the only legal aid societies in the US that serves only children. Recently, LSC has undertaken an agency-wide refocusing of their services to implement awareness of trauma in all segments of their support to children. The holistic – legal, social and emotional – approach to assist undocumented children, teenage parents or educationally delinquent children, has been instrumental in helping children find a stable home and school environment. And, one of the first programs that Childhood supported, the Detained Immigrant Children’s Project, is now a federally support program under the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Read more about their services at www.lsc-sf.org.

chances for children

Finally, Chances for Children is a small agency, operating out of the Riverdale Mental Health Agency in the Bronx. For almost 20 years, they have provided much needed psychological intervention and social support to teen parents. A few years ago, CFC revamped their model to also include parents over 20 y o. The area of mental health is a growing as new brain research is confirming how vital the first months and years are to adult physical and mental health. CFC is also training social workers in their model to become more acutely aware of the needs of infants and toddlers. Read more at www.chancesforchildren-ny.org.

Text and photos: Charlotte Brandin

Britta Holmberg, Project Director

“Energized and full of hope”

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I feel energized and full of hope when I leave a meeting with two young fathers in Hout Bay, Cape Town. Their sons used to be the trouble-makers at school and the situations in their homes were not that good either. Through the Boy’s Quest program, the boys received support in their school-work and life skills training in a group where they were provided a safe space to talk about life and parents and expectations etc. in a group with other boys in a similar position. They also participated in a therapeutic camp where they started the journey to process the difficulties they were going through and so far had expressed by acting out in a destructive way. For parents, the program offers support groups, home-visits and referrals to parenting skills trainings. James House, that runs the program, have tried hard to engage one father figure for each boy in the program. That has not been easy since far from all the boys have one. And if they do, maybe not anyone who is prepared to participate in a program like this. So the two young men I meet are the exceptions. So far. They tell me how difficult it was to take the step and attend the program. How they did not want to sit in a group and talk about feelings… But then I realize, that all they do during our meeting is talking about feelings. They share some of their own complicated history with their fathers and how happy they are to see the change their sons are going through. And the change they are going through themselves. The relationship with their sons has improved so much! They communicate better and spend more time together. They are so proud of their sons, in a way that all parents should be, but I know that these kids seldom get the chance to hear this kind of praise. They talk a lot about how important it is to hug their kids and show how much they love them. And both fathers repeatedly say that they really want to be there not only for their own sons but also for other kids in the community since they know that there are so many children that lack a positive male role model. These two were brave enough to step forward to be part of a positive change for their children. And I feel confident that more will follow as soon as they hear these two!

Britta

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

Ukraine

Lately I have been on the phone a lot, talking to our project partners in Ukraine.

As Childhood’s country manager for Ukraine, I travel there at least six times a year to visit our projects. Only one of our projects is based in Kyiv. The project has suffered with the capital in turmoil. The other projects are in parts of Ukraine where there have been few or no protests.

I have gotten to know many people in Ukraine; adults working relentlessly to help others, to give children a better future; children who lived in sewers and overcame horrific abuse, who are now studying and use every free moment to dance or play football. I worry about them, and so I call. These people I admire and care about, their voices are filled with more sadness than hope. They are afraid, more than usual, of what the future will bring. Our partners working with young people tell me that they are talking to the youngsters, making sure none of them skip school to join protests or go to Kyiv. Staff try to calm the children, even though the staff themselves are frightened. I am told that our projects are doing well in Odessa, in Mikolyaiv, in Transcarpathia. I tell them that that is not why I am calling. I tell them that we admire and care about them, and that we worry about them. I tell them how all over the world people are following the news, worried, hopeful, distraught, inspired. And they tell me that it matters to hear this, to know that in some way their fate is shared. And for a moment, however fleeting, I hear more hope than sadness in the voices on the other line.

Susanne