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16.11.2013 | Киев

Aleksandr Gezalov: «We need to work on prevention of social orphancy»

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A thought-provoking documentary "Bluff, or Happy New Year!" (trailer here) about orphans was presented yesterday by the director of the film, Russian journalist, television presenter and a foster mother Olga Sinyaeva, and a public figure, orphan, and international expert in social orphanhood, the author of the book “Salty Childhood” and film producer Alexander Gezalov.

Aleksandr Gezalov: «We need to work on prevention of social orphancy»

Before the screening night the guests visited so-called “social apartment” — a “mother and child mini-centre” — which accommodates young mothers or pregnant women who wanted to abandon their children. Given that both in Ukraine and Russia the majority of children in orphanages are social orphans, the work with such moms helps keep the baby in the family without sending it to the orphanage.

According to Irina Sinelnik, manager of the “No to Orphancy” program of Rinat Akhmetov's Foundation for Development of Ukraine, it is one of the models of social orphancy prevention, which enables to reduce the number of children in the orphanages, when their parents are alive.

 “Most of these cases occur when either the father of the child or the parents of the pregnant girl are against the baby,” says Irina. “The girl does not want to make an abortion and hides her pregnancy, and then does not know what to do; she is so stressed that she is ready to abandon the baby right in the hospital, knowing that she has nowhere to go with it. For such situations, a number of NGOs, including Rinat Akhmetov’s Foundation, Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation, in cooperation with the representative office of international organization "Right to Health" created such an apartment. For us, this is not the first experience - there is a similar centre in Donetsk, where we have managed to save 20 children from abandonment in a year. Overall, the  two centers helped 780 families receive social, medical, and legal assistance."

4 girls with children live at the moment in Kyiv social apartment. There were only 3 of them at the meeting with the guests. One of the girls has already found a job, and her neighbours, as well as the head of social apartment Olga Osadchaya from the organization "Right to Health," and a psychologist, help here with babysitting. This is an important component of such a centre: young mothers are not just provided with housing, they are also taught how to care for the child, consulted by the social workers and psychologists, girls are often helped in finding a job and getting the state child care allowance.

Girls treated Alexander Gezalov and Olga Sinyaeva with the cake they baked themselves. Aleksander told the girls about his childhood in the orphanage, making it clear what difficulties their children would face if the baby got first into the baby house, and then to an orphanage. And giving the analogy with their current situation, he said that he himself lived in the street for a long time. “I have an apartment now, though it’s my mother-in-law’s,” Alexander laughs. “But my dream has come true recently: I’ve built my house, a log house, and planted a garden. This is for my children, I have four of them. Each of you should have a goal and strive for it. When I left the orphanage, I had nothing. But I survived. The only one of 13 teens from our cohort. I was not like everyone else and that helped me. I resisted the system and did not give up. I got 4 higher educations and encourage you to continue learning, raise children, despite all the difficulties— and things will get better, and you’ll have a new husband, find a job.”

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