In Ukraine, Childhood supports the organization The Way Home and one of their programs for families at risk called “Center of Early Development”, which provides free education and recreational activities to children in need. Through the program, children from disadvantaged families receive support from both The Way Home and the social services in Odessa. Marina, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is one of the children who have been helped by the organization.
When Marina was just 8 years old, her teacher reached out to The Way Home for help. Marina skipped classes and hid in stairwells near the school. When The Way Home talked to Marina she explained that both her mother and grandmother, who she lived with, were disabled in a way that made it difficult for them to take care of Marina properly. Marina had to wear old and ragged clothes and was teased by her classmates. No one wanted to play with her and she felt left out when others brought something good to eat during breaks and during holidays when all other children had brought gifts from home. Marina had even thought about committing suicide but did not really know how and also felt sorry for her mother.
Today Marina regularly visits The Way Home’s leisure activities where she receives support and gets to talk about her problems. Marina’s teacher says that Marina has changed and no longer skips classes. She is still behind in school but she is improving. Marina has now got a few friends and seems much happier. Her mother is very satisfied with the help they have received.