In Ukraine, Childhood supports the The Way Home Organization's “Center of Early Development,” which provides free education and recreational activities to children in need. Through the program, children from disadvantaged families receive support from both The Way Home and the social services in Odessa. Marina, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is one of the children who have been helped by the organization.
When Marina was just 8 years old, her teacher reached out to The Way Home for help. Marina skipped classes and hid in stairwells near the school. When The Way Home talked to Marina she explained that both her mother and grandmother, who she lived with, were disabled, making it difficult to care for her properly. Marina had to wear old, ragged clothes and was teased by her classmates. No one wanted to play with her. She felt left out when others brought snacks to eat during breaks and gifts from home during the holidays. Marina had even contemplated committing suicide but did not want to abandon her mother.
Today Marina regularly visits The Way Home where she receives support and is able to talk through her problems. Marina’s teacher says that Marina has changed and no longer skips classes. She is still behind in her classes, but has made massive strides. Marina has made friends and is much happier in school. Both her and her mother are extremely grateful for the help this program has given them.