High rates of domestic violence and HIV/AIDS
Children playing in their new home in SOS Children's Village Brovary (photo: SOS archives)
Brovary is a town with around 98,000 inhabitants, located approximately twenty kilometres from the centre of the capital city of Kiev. Small manufacturing plants, industry and construction have traditionally been the main sources of employment in the area. Many people living in Brovary commute to Kiev to work. In fact, in recent years, the proximity to the capital has attracted many people to settle in Brovary.
Life for children in this area is not always easy. Many children lose parental care due to complex social and economic circumstances which include alcohol and drug abuse, and AIDS/HIV. Ukraine has one of the highest rates of HIV in Europe and the capital city has a substantial concentration of people with the disease. Public health care is not always available. Many families who need medical treatment seek support from SOS Children's Villages because they cannot afford the necessary medication or treatment. Many children are at risk of losing parental care, including those who are brought up in low-income households alongside many siblings, those brought up by single mothers or those left in the care of elderly relatives.
Children often experience family violence. A recent survey found that nearly half of the Ukrainian population has been a victim of domestic violence and that around one third suffered violence when they were children.
Increasing support to vulnerable children
Many children who lose parental care continue to be placed in institutions. However, the Ukrainian authorities have been working towards placing children in alternative families instead. There is an increasing emphasis on the early identification of families who may be struggling to care for their children. It is hoped that targeted support will keep the families together.
SOS Children's Villages has a good working relationship with the state agencies responsible for the protection and care of children. Our organisation provides different kinds of assistance to the local population: support to vulnerable families and children in crisis situation, educational support to teachers and children in the area as well as loving homes for children who have lost parental care.
What we do in Brovary
A little girl in our care drawing during a celebration in the village (photo: SOS archives).
SOS Children's Villages Brovary is surrounded by nature but has schools, shops and markets within easy reach.
Strengthening families: Our organisation works closely with parents in the area to determine the support they need in order to stay together. In collaboration with local agencies we ensure that children have access to essential educational, health and nutritional services.
We also provide material aid and advice on parenting skills and income generation. We inform parents of their rights regarding housing and state allowances. Given the high rate of domestic violence in Ukraine, we run workshops on the prevention of such violence and provide assistance to women and children who have been victims of it.
Our SOS Social Centre in central Kiev also runs a family strengthening programme for families nearby.
Many of the families that we support have fled the fighting in eastern Ukraine. In addition to material assistance in the form of money, food and clothes, we also provide social and emotional support for children and parents.
Education: We work closely with the local school and kindergarten to enhance the skills of teachers and we support individual children by offering them tuition in areas where they are struggling.
Care in families: Children who can no longer live with their families, can find a loving home in one of the 14 SOS families, where up to 85 children can be cared for. The SOS mothers provide a loving and stable environment where children can flourish. The children attend the local schools and after-school activities, which helps with their integration into the community.