We start work among street children. We find children from their hiding places: cellars, parks and sewage tunnels. Officially, there are no street children in Ukraine, and we are often at loggerheads with the authorities and the police. Sometimes we end up arrested along with the children.
Bobrovitsa village rents us for free an old kindergarten for 49 years.
”Friend’s House” starts in an austere environment.
We move into the Pisky house with ten children and two therapist dogs. The rooms are grim. In the beginning, all our time goes to getting water and heating to work. But every child has a bed, we have food and we have each other. One of the girls proudly presents our indoor toilet to the Finnish ambassador: “See, when you push this button, water runs into the bowl!” The ambassador certainly thinks of other concerns than water running into the bowl; she thinks of all the work we have ahead of us.
We now have 25 children in Friend’s House. The Finnish Embassy finances a series of seminars ”Better in the Street than at Home”, which Haver and Barnens Ambassad organize in Bobrovitsa municipality. These seminars influence the attitudes of the authorities toward Friend’s House.
A new law. – Friend’s House is officially accepted as a rehabilitation centre. Organization Barnens Hopp (Children’s Hope) supports the renovation of the house.
The new law grants Friend’s House the status of children’s home.
The circle closes. Sveta, a girl who grew up in the street, marries and joins our team. Sveta came to Friend’s House at the age of 15 when she was expecting a baby. We have watched Sveta’s life over the years, even before she came to us; she is like our own daughter. Another young mother, Katya, who came at the same time with Sveta, now marries and joins our team.
A total of 39 children have found new homes through Friend’s House. Some of them have foster parents, some have been adopted. Five of the children have started their own families.
We acquire a sheltered home where the grown-up children can move from Friend’s House, learning to live an independent life.
October – Child welfare and rehabilitation work is transferred to a government-subsidised foster home.
December – The work of Haver Children’s Embassy for children’s rights is awarded International Human Rights Defence Committee’s medal.
Friend’s House has three functions. It is a kindergarten where the village children can come at daytime; it is the centre of the proactive work among families; and it is the centre of sponsor activities.
Uprising of the people against the government in November 2013 initiates a chain of events that none could anticipate. Our work continues as before, but the country is at war and our team has to focus on the most essential aid. In May 2014, Friend’s House receives its first refugee family from the war-ridden areas of eastern Ukraine.