HAVEN for a child in danger (2010-2015)
Among the children supported by BENJAMINΙ they were the 4 children of the – Family Home of “HAVEN For a Child” .A groundbreaking pilot program that began in 2010 when a juvenile prosecutor contacted the BENJAMIN’s President in December 2010, asking if it would be possible to host a 6-year-old girl who did not grow up with her mother. The answer was positive and immediately a house was rented, a married couple was found who had raised children while BENJAMIN took over the total care and all the expenses of raising the child. After a few months, the Juvenile Prosecutor contacted him again BENJAMIN and requested that the Association host 3 other brothers who were in danger. It should be mentioned that it was a new model of housing children at risk , children whose care and custody had been taken away from their natural parents and givento BENJAMIN after a Court Decision.
The housing of 4children in danger» took place in a home with the presence and care of a married couple, mother and father, so that children can experience the warmth of the family. The inclusion of children in a family environment and not in an institution contributed decisively to their psychosomatic development. The whole venture was done with the prospect these children to be given up for foster care or adoption before they reach adulthood. In fact, during the last twelve months of its operation HAVEN for the Child all four children lived with two “parents/family” for 365 days straight, and even when the “parents” went on vacation for a month, they took the children with them.
However, the difficulties faced by BENJAMIN the last 5 years have been too many since this way of caring for children at risk is completely different from what is usual in our country, since it is usual for agencies to operate like institutions.
So we want to inform all the friends and supporters of our children that after the above events, the program of“HAVEN For Child”” which operated as a pilot program for over five years, could not continue, and finally the structure was transformed into a “Support Center for Single Parent Families and Refugees” until the middle of 2016 where the specific program ceased.
On February 17, 2016 in Brussels, there was a round table discussion in the European Parliament on “Ensuring the quality of care and protection of children in Greece in a time of crisis”. The MEP, constitutional expert, Kostas Chrysogonos, invited to the discussion table, stated among other things: “I consider that the initiative of MEP Stelios Kouloglou is very important, in order to highlight the need to end the institutionalization of child protection, to return children to their families, to be able to develop in a more balanced way through family warmth” .
These are the important developments in the European Parliament and in fact at the initiative of Greek MEPs, regarding child care. We hope that in our country too soon we will change the way agencies operate and start taking care of children in families NOT in institutions. For BENJAMIN BENJAMIN will be another confirmation that our efforts were not wasted and above all the children will come out victorious.
Today, as these lines are being written, the youngest of our children (whom we have cared for since he was two years old), has been adopted by court order. Already, three of our children have moved to an institution whose operation is closer to the HAVEN for Child model than any other in Greece.
We visit our children in the new institution, there is excellent cooperation between the two institutions and the director of the new institution also mentioned that the children immediately adapted to the new environment because they were well prepared as they grew up in a family environment.
We want to thank all our friends and kids supporters who, with particular sensitivity to the needs of these 4 children, contributed in one way or another to meeting their needs. We especially want to thank him Katerini’s Lawyer Association, the Pontiac Association “PANAGIA SOUMELA”, the cultural organization HELLENIC KATERINI HIGH SCHOOL as well as the Archimandrites Fr. father Ignatios Sotiriades father Ioakim Oikonomikos father Varnavas Leontidadis, who baptized our 3 children a few years ago. Of course, we would also like to thank all of you, our friends and supporters. We ask for your prayers for these children.
We want to clarify that BENJAMIN continues its work of love and protection to 260 children and their guardians who are in need or in danger, through its programs throughout Greece:
Together we try to give smiles of optimism to our little friends who need it. Thank you for standing by us!