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ТЕРМІНОВО: Допоможіть біженцям війни в Україні, зробивши пожертву прямо зараз

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How Care in Action and Turbota v Dii began

Цей матеріал недоступний вашою мовою

When Werner and Janice Lehnis encountered the extreme poverty of care institutions in Eastern Europe in 1995, they began raising awareness and collecting aid and donations. The end of communism brought new opportunities, but with widespread poverty the marginalised suffered the most. In Ukraine they saw large centers for the disabled with no wheelchairs, care homes with over 100 children and no indoor toilets or running water, and children in the villages with no shoes during the freezing winters.

“Though I was familiar with the sad effects of severe poverty and corruption on the weakest sections of society from my time of working in India and Nepal, some of the situations I saw in Ukraine were heart breaking.

“So in response my wife Janice and I founded Care in Action e.V. in Munich in 1998. We launched larger aid projects which eventually embraced thousands of orphans, vulnerable children and families at risk. We rebuilt critical facilities, such as orphanage roofs, bathrooms and kitchens, and furnished bedrooms and classrooms.

“To drive change within the social care system, especially for moving away from outdated institutions, we organised conferences, round table discussions and international experience exchanges on “Family style care models”. - Werner Lehnis, Co-Founder

In 2011 “Turbota v Dii” (Ukrainian for Care in Action) was registered in Lviv, Ukraine, as a sister organisation. It is an independent non-profit public organisation and together we deliver high-quality services. While the majority of "Turbota v Dii" programs are still funded by Care in Action, a growing number of funding partners contribute to their success. Over the years our reputation has grown and we are a trusted partner of the Department for Children in Lviv, with links to Social Services and NGOs across Ukraine.

Werner saw children's experiences in orphanages and living in poverty, and was inspired to found Care in Action, and later to support the development of "Turbota v Dii", with his wife Janice. 

Growth of volunteers and partnerships

Volunteers are an essential part of what makes Care in Action effective. Our Volunteer program began in Ukraine in 2006, offering training and opportunities to help children. Not only did this strengthen our sustainability, it exponentially multiplied the number of people who can help children in need. Between 120 – 200 active volunteers help in Ukraine every year.

Over 25 years of Care in Action, a valuable network of Ukrainian staff, volunteers and partners have helped to strengthen our methods and programs. The expert trainers and child psychologists we work with have also refined our methods.

In Germany a team of volunteers help with fundraising, legal requirements and organising aid. This includes Josef Lierzer who has been a Board Member and volunteered countless hours since 1998. Care in Action would not be where we are today without our volunteers.

Support for fostering and family care

By 2015 Care in Action had begun programs to support foster families and family based care in Ukraine. Care in Action developed holistic solutions: to directly help the individual child, support their carers to improve their environment, and to partner with others to make a greater, more sustainable difference.

“Many heart breaking experiences in traditional children’s homes confirmed our motto: Children need more than food, a roof over their head and basic education, they also need family, love and positive integration into society.” – Co-Founder Werner Lehnis

A significant milestone in our support for family care is the development of a Ukrainian training course in “Providing a Secure Base” therapeutic parenting, adapted in 2019 from the model developed at the University of East Anglia. The “Providing a Secure Base” model is used to support foster care in countries including the UK, Norway and Thailand. Training and supporting foster parents, so more children can grow up within a family, has become a priority for Care in Action. 

Dr Mary Beek, who co-authored the Providing a Secure Base model of care with Dr Gillian Schofield, visited Ukraine in 2017 to introduce therapeutic care concepts. This led to the development of Ukrainian training materials in 2019.

Connection with Malawi

In 2005 our Child Sponsorship reached out to Malawi. Like Werner and Janice, their daughter Jasmine Lehnis had chosen a career in international development. Jasmine lived and worked in Malawi for 15 years and developed the links with Care in Action.  We continue to change lives by supporting education in Malawi, both by funding projects with Community Based Organisations, and by sponsoring the fees for secondary school and university.

In 2019 Jasmine Lehnis became the Director of Care in Action, using her experience from Malawi, the UK and management expertise to take on the role from Werner Lehnis.

(L to R) Jasmine Lehnis with Promise Matope, an orphaned student sponsored through secondary school and into Nursing studies, and Fatima Mauluka, Director of GEMO Day Care Centre which provides early years education with our support.

Remembering Co-Founder Werner Lehnis

Werner Lehnis passed away in July 2022, following a brave fight with cancer. In Werner’s final months he received many messages from Ukraine, with people remembering how his work was done with great empathy and attention to detail. Werner was active for Ukraine into his last weeks of life, giving aid and advice to the 23 refugees he and volunteers in Germany helped to find a home and adapt to a new life.

“I see our impact on care leavers like Anna, who had great difficulty finding and keeping a job. After extensive assistance she found a stable workplace and can now manage her life independently. When I see care leavers like Hennadiy proudly joining our Ukraine staff, because they want to help others like them, I feel our work is worth every effort. Thank you for your involvement and support.” - Werner Lehnis, Co-Founder

Werner was happy to know that the work he started in 1998, together with his wife Janice, will carry on. Werner is remembered with great affection and his values continue to inspire our work.

Werner Lehnis understood the challenges and hardship that so many children faced in Ukraine's institutions, and worked to see these children grow up in families with better lives and opportunities. He believed that a mentor who encourages a child to reach their goals can make a lasting, positive difference.

Extending services to help during the full-scale war

Our lives changed in 2022, as through our long-standing work in Ukraine we found ourselves at the forefront of protecting children in wartime. Our team worked tirelessly to shelter displaced families, deliver food and protect children in winter power cuts.

Because of generous donations we were able to respond to urgent needs and extend our support within the Lviv Region and beyond. Our team in Ukraine expanded from 9 to 20 staff. We gave more than 38,000 beds for the night between March 2022 to July 2023. We also equipped community centres to provide ongoing services for children.

We provided shelter in hostels, and opened our own shelter for displaced families in Vynnyky in April 2022, in partnership with PLAST scouts. Here families stand outside our shelter with Maria Boiko, Director of Turbota v Dii.

In Lviv we saw the need to help children recover from trauma, and how children bravely tried to continue their education, even in crowded hostel kitchens. So we opened the Creative Hub children’s centre in Lviv, and provided expert support to displaced families, helping them to find housing, work and enrol their children in school.

There were many children who lost their parents because of the war who escaped to Dnipro, East Ukraine. We partnered with Maxymum Charitable Fund to help these children, and are inspired by how our aid and holistic support has helped them recover, make friends and even consider their future.

We continue to support children and promote family-care with our strong team and years of experience in developing services: we give children the opportunity to recover from trauma, develop their potential and grow up to succeed in life.