Marina Gorka is a small town in central Belarus, which is home to around 22,000 people. The town is approximately 63 kilometres south-east of Minsk, the modern capital of the country.
Marina Gorka is part of the wider Minsk region, a rural area that is known for its farming and agricultural produce such as potatoes, flax and sugar beet.
Children, young people and families in rural areas have less access to social assistance from the government. They need extra support so that they can stay together.
Since 2002, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Marina Gorka.
Although there have been improvements, high unemployment rates, low wages and insufficient social assistance mean that many families in Marina Gorka face hardship. Children are among the most vulnerable: Of all those who fall beneath the poverty line in Belarus, over one third are children.
Financial strain is one of the main causes of family separation in Belarus, with many children in low-income families at risk of losing parental care. Alcohol dependency is another reason why children can’t stay with their family. The region around Marina Gorka has the highest number of people with alcohol dependencies across all of Belarus.
Life can be dangerous for mothers and children in Marina Gorka. The Minsk region, where the town of Marina Gorka is located, has one of the highest rates of reported domestic violence across Belarus.
Many women with children are forced to stay in abusive relationships, as they simply cannot afford to leave. Women are often discriminated against in the labour market, especially young mothers.
In addition, 16% of women in Belarus have experienced economic abuse from a partner, for example by restricting access to money or preventing them from working.