As a solicitor specialising in child protection for over 25 years, I have first hand experience of the distressing background of these children's lives, and the lifelong experiences for them as a result of poor, neglectful or at its worst, abusive parenting. Whether, as they approach adolescence and their adult years, it becomes a vicious cycle of alcohol or drug misuse, sexual abuse, or violence in their relationships.
I was overawed by the dedication, professionalism and commitment of a handful of staff who go, and indeed have been going, that extra mile for these children and young adults, with very little financial rewards. As one professional commented as she scoured YouTube late into the night to find ideas for working with the children, whether it be for therapeutic or creative purposes, " for me this is not a job, it's a way of life."
No one afternoon at the orphanage was the same, the children were always being stimulated, challenged and entertained, largely by one member of staff who may have up to 15 children that afternoon, including some with special needs, who require greater support. It was an incredible experience to witness. Despite a language barrier, we had a great time playing with the children, and spotting a future Ronaldo!
However it was the afternoon when therapeutic work was being done with the children that was by far the most distressing to witness, especially as a mother. The children were asked to lie down, relax and dream, about anything, whether it be their parents, experiences, other loved ones, etc. Thereafter they were asked to draw their dream. Apart from two children, all of the children drew pictures of unhappy people and distressing situations. See for yourself - as they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. This activity was invaluable as it enabled the therapist to know more about the children's experiences and how to assist them in their recovery.