The notion of providing residence for homeless, single mothers has long been established in Great Britain and the USA and now is being widely introduced in Eastern Europe countries and in Russia.
The residence in Kiev is designed to accommodate six mothers with their children at any given time. The apartment was established by all-Ukrainian Public Organization through the “Ukrainian Health fund”, in collaboration with the international organization “Health Right” representative office and Kiev City Center for Social Services for Family, Children and Youth. Generous allowance for furnishing the apartment was provided by the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for Development of Ukraine. Permanent assistance and support is provided to the homeless young women thanks to cooperation between the Elena Pinchuk ANTIADS Foundation and the Elton John Aids Foundation, established in Kiev in 2010.
Pregnant women and mothers with small children can reside in the apartment for a period of three months to one year. During this time social workers, psychologists and attorneys provide assistance to help preparing the women for their future, independent life. The women will receive assistance in submitting paperwork for the receipt of social services for their children. They can also receive help in restoring relations with their relatives while being taught how to look after themselves and their children, to manage their household, all while being provided any needed psychological or medical assistance.
At present there are three mothers and three children residing at the home – two newborn boys and a two-year old girl in total. These mothers had no place to return after having given birth to their children; they have no support of their families and no employment. If these women were left in such a strait with no outside assistance, they would live with considerable risk of having their children abducted with future deprivation of parental rights.
“The apartment is designed for mothers in crisis situations, says the director of the “Health Rights” office in Ukraine Galyna Skipalska. Three years ago we opened, thanks to our partners, a day care center for homeless girls and young women in Kiev. We are happy that now our capacity to help and save people has increased”.
“In 2012, thirty-two women abandoned their newborn children in maternity homes in Kiev. As a rule, many of the women were brought up in orphanages themselves or lack experience with parenting skills. Establishment of such social apartments is one of the most efficient approaches in reducing the number of orphans in Ukraine, as it provides women the opportunity to receive qualified help while residing safely with their children. By opening the second social apartment, The Foundation comes closer to realizing the goal of the project “Technologies of preventing social orphanage”, stresses Anatoliy Zabolotny, director of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for Development of Ukraine.
“The social apartment is a first step for girls and women who live on the street to achieve a normal life for their families. It is for them not only a residence, but also a place to acquire the skills necessary for independent life, Olga Rudneva, director of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIADS Foundation points out. We are pleased that so many partner organizations are involved with this project. Thanks to the resources, experience and knowledge inherent to each of them, we will be able not only to change the life of every woman we help, but also to create a new model of working with women who get into difficult life circumstances”.
Experts predict that approximately 100,000 Ukrainian teenagers and young people spend a considerable part their lives living in the street in extremely dangerous conditions, where they often come across violence and discrimination. About 30% of street youth are girls and young women, who are especially vulnerable to violence, HIV infection, unplanned and early pregnancies and abduction of their new-born children.
In April 2010, the “Health Right” Help Center for young women in difficult life circumstances was established in Kiev. Here girls and young women (aged 14-22) who live or spend a considerable part of their time in the street receive HIV-testing services and assistance with many life matters. During its three years of operation over 1,000 girls were provided with services in the center – of these women,315 of them slept in a street for extended periods, 15% were HIV-positive, 23% were pregnant and 31% had small children. Most of them have no education, work or necessary life skills. Without outside assistance, intensive social services and to the opportunity to participate in the 24-hour short-term residence, these pregnant women and young mothers have almost no chance to improve their lives and those of their children, to restore relations with their relatives and to establish stable living conditions in the future. Moreover, rates of abducting newborn children are high in Kiev. According to the information provided by four maternity homes in Kiev (from a total of seven area homes), 76 notifications of intentions to abandon newborn children were given, 43 of which resulted in mothers leaving their children in maternity homes; 21 women therefore every second were not from Kiev.
For further information please contact:
Kateryna Zasukha, Director of External Relations Department of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for Development of Ukraine, +380 44 502 52 12, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pavel Piminov, Communications Director of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation, +380 44 490 48 05, P.Piminov@antiaids.org.
Galyna Skypalska, Director of the “Health Right” office in Ukraine, +380 44 278 2358, Halyna.Skipalska@healthright.org.Photogallery