This year our expert journal went to 6,000 people who care for children in 22 regions of Ukraine. The key theme was The Power of the Family, and Ukrainian experts contributed articles to help foster families handle issues like how to teach values, discipline, supporting a child with addiction and many more hot topics. Who is involved and how does this help? Here is the story of this year’s Parenting in Action.
Iryna Shemechko has a strong connection with carers and foster parents, from being a part of support groups and listening to their concerns as she leads our Care 4 Carers programme. This informs her discussions with experts on the topics for Parenting in Action and motivates her to give carers the advice they need.
“This magazine inspires me. When I feel low I read Parenting in Action and it helps me to continue.” – Foster mother, Lviv Region
Along with the articles from seven well-known experts, such as Ulyana Dolynyak who is the Director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma, are stories from foster parents. Iryna first heard the wonderful story of a girl we will call Oksana shared in a support group, and when she saw the reaction from other foster parents she knew how valuable it would be to share with others.
Oksana was ten years old when her foster mother met her. Oksana would not speak and had never been to school. After an hour’s meeting with no responses the mother was not going to take things further, when Oksana said “I’ll wait for you”. This simple exchange persuaded the mother that there was hope to include Oksana in her family. The local school didn’t want to include a ten year old girl who didn’t know her alphabet along with the younger children. Her mother taught Oksana to recite a poem about motherhood to the school commission and that persuaded them to give her a chance. It was a long journey together, but ten years later Oksana is in university and recently won a beauty contest!
Examples like these, together with expert advice on how to manage challenges, can inspire other foster parents on their own journey. Oksana’s transformation is also a testament to why family is such an important environment for children.
So what is it like to get 6,000 copies of a journal to all corners of Ukraine? 100 boxes weighing 1,600 kg altogether arrive from the printer, after the painstaking work of editing and design is complete. There were multiple taxi trips to the post office, sliding over snow on the cobbled streets, and volunteers helping with loading.
Iryna fields “millions of phone calls” from the Social Services, NGOs and Secure Base trainers who will distribute the journals to foster parents in their regions. Demand is high because of the reputation we have built and the well-known contributors who are top in their field, such as psychotherapist Marianna Lapina, and psychologists and trainers Lyubov Loriashvili and Olena Petrushkevych. Requests for more come in, and even though we increased from 4,000 to 6,000 copies this year, Iryna has to carefully balance the needs across the country. She is pleased that the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are included, where carers are affected by the ongoing conflict.
Printed copies are valuable, as parents report that they will go back to the articles again and again. In rural areas there is poor internet and many families have no laptops. However, Parenting in Action is complemented by online services: monthly webinars offer training and previous articles are available in the Resource section of our website. With a new monthly email just for foster parents, and links with our partners across the country, we hope to increase the number of carers who access advice online.
“NGO “Zakarpattia without orphans” expresses its deep thankfulness to Care in Action for the “Parenting in Action” journals. We’ve been cooperating for few years and now our foster parents always ask us: “When does a new edition of that interesting journal come out?” The information provided is always up-to-date and it answers many questions foster parents have in the course of raising children. And the introduction from the Care in Action founders Werner and Janice is like a personal letter for each and every reader and it feels as if you are communicating with the dearest friends. Their example gives confidence that every obstacle can be overcome. Many thanks to everyone who shares his or her experience, examples and new ideas!”
Work has already begun to identify the themes for the next journal, on the topic of mental health. We appreciate the support of our donors, who make it possible to continue to advise and inspire foster parents, so more children like Oksana can overcome trauma and have the loving and secure home they need to succeed in life.