Every child should have someone who loves them...
There are 25000 children living in the state orphanages in Poland...
All these children have suffered emotional traumas of various kinds. They have need of extra support through therapy and coaching. The Polish orphanage system lacks the resources that would make so much difference.
We want to share God’s love with as with many of them as possible by organising for them meaningful and creative activities in order to help them develop positive life-skills.
Polish orphans are over 90% social orphans. These are children removed from their parental home because of neglect, abuse, poverty or whose parents have lost their parental rights, and are placed in a state orphanage. These orphanages are called Dom Dziecka in Polish, which is Children’s Home in English.
The philosophy behind the Dom Dziecka is to simulate a family atmosphere. The children live in small groups with specific carers assigned to them. The carers and teachers do have the children’s best at heart, but there are factors that they have no control over, such as a lack of resources, which makes it difficult to reach their goal, that of preparing the child for an adjusted adult life.
These orphanages have to take children with behaviour problems. There is a turnover of both children and carers. The bonds that develop between parent and child and between siblings do not develop in the Dom Dziecka environment.
Quiet and balanced children, sharing rooms with not well socialized children from dysfunctional families, suffer an unpleasant peer pressure. While the staff try to put children together, who fit in well with each other, this is not always possible in practice.
The carers do have a stressful task dealing with those children with behaviour problems, and therefore the better-behaved children get less attention. All children need attention from significant adults in their lives. This leads to competition for attention, which is then expressed in an unhealthy way. The quiet children lose that vital adult contact. The carers have to distance themselves emotionally to some degree out of self-preservation, or they will become emotionally burned-out.
There are too many children per carer for individual attention. The carers cannot show favouritism towards any child as this would result in other children being nasty to the favourite as soon as the carer’s back is turned. So any child to adult bonding, which is so vital in a child’s development, is not possible in the institutionalised orphanage system
Although some of the children get psychological counseling, this happens too seldom and the psychologist’s office is a strange environment for the children. Since there are so many children in these homes with psychological and emotional scars, which require intense therapy, having a psychologist or a cognitive behavioural therapist on the permanent staff should be standard.
The children’s education suffers from their emotional states. Besides learning disabilities, which can be caused by emotional trauma, there is the question of motivation. Without a positive view of the future it is difficult to see the point in doing well. Often an adult they have connected with can motivate them, but they will do well for that person, not for themselves.
The attitude of schools to these children is another problem. Some of the orphanage children are badly behaved and disruptive in class and many are unmotivated. This does not help build good teacher pupil relations. They also miss the general education a child receives in a family home and activities children do with their parents.
Some hobbies are not possible, such as building models and painting. Some child is bound to destroy the model or painting. Since they have so few possessions, they have difficulty respecting other’s belongings. An abused child with a violated integrity does not easily understand other people’s private space and privacy.
There is an average of 56 children per home, but can be upwards to 100. Some children remain in a home for their whole childhood, while other children are arriving and leaving, bonds are breaking and forming all the time. There is also a turnover of carers. As much as they try, the Dom Dziecka system cannot give the sense of permanence and stability a well-adjusted home can.
The gaps in a child’s developmental needs, between the Children’s Home environment and a family home, are partially covered by volunteers, children’s organizations and churches. These activities vary and include supplying clothes and toys, taking the children on regular camps and giving the children teaching help. These camps and teaching generally focus on building up the children’s self-esteem and motivate them to look into the future with hope.
The Polish Children’s Homes serve an important role in today’s Polish society. They are doing a good job in a difficult situation, considering their lack of resources and with some of the children they have to take in, who are problematic.
Any criticism of the Polish orphanage system should not be directed at the orphanages themselves, but at the politicians who set the budgets for the orphanages. This is not a Polish problem, but global. Orphans, disadvantaged children and dysfunctional families are low priority internationally when politicians are setting their political budgets. Supporting these two groups today would result in a decline in social problems in the next generation, but in political terms that is beyond the horizon.
So it is left to individuals and groups who care for these children to help the Polish orphanages give their children an upbringing to become well-adjusted adults in tomorrow’s society.
We host regular weekly activity meetings for children from orphanages in our area, with the Baptist Church in Elblag, north eastern Poland, but are focusing on young mothers who have left the orphanage system to find their place in society. We also work with the Christian Joy Foundation in Warsaw, which organises summer, winter and sports camps for children from Polish orphanages.
Christian Joy Foundation camp, summer 2007
We are concentrating on helping teenage mothers to raise their children in a family home environment and so prevent their children from being placed into the orphanage system.
If you would like to help this mission we welcome you to please donate towards helping these young mothers.
Any donation goes 100% to the cause as all overheads are covered.
Jesus said: "Whoever receives one little child like this
in My name, receives Me." Matthew 18:5
Donation disclaimer: The Agape Aid Trust was a Swedish registered Christian Charity, but we found the administrative tasks with running the charity distracted us from our primary mission. We are still Christian, doing the same work and welcome donations. We are focussing on the practical work of helping people in need, particularly unmarried young mothers.
Our overheads and basic running expenses are met so any donation goes 100% towards helping unmarried young mothers who have come out of the Polish orphanage system to find a meaningful place in society.
If you need to donate through a registered charity we have arranged with Fundacja Radosc (The Joy Foundation) in Warsaw to accept funding on our behalf. Please contact us through our contact page if you wish to do it this way.
Polish Social Orphans
Being a Social Orphan
History Polish Orphanages
Dogs for Attachment Therapy
Dogs for Attachment Therapy
UK Child Care Guidelines
History of Bad Parenting
RAD DSM-IV Problems
RAD Development Stages
An adoptive father’s lessons learned about Attachment Disorder