New version

Often, people jump to conclusions without truly understanding a situation. This is particularly evident in discussions about religion, nationality, and health. However, these examples only scratch the surface; there are numerous other subjects where similar misunderstandings occur.

It is frustrating when people make unfair judgments based on someone’s nationality or religion. Such generalizations create distorted and inaccurate perceptions. No individual is the same, and therefore, these preconceived notions are entirely flawed. However, while these stereotypes are well-known regarding religion, nationality, and health, they also exist for other subjects.

Two subjects that are often overlooked are the support for children without parental care and children affected by war. As I have mentioned before, not all children without parental care receive support from “orphan campaigns,” and they may not even be orphans to begin with. Similarly, children affected by war are often misrepresented by campaigns that focus solely on their immediate needs, such as food, water, and medicine. The real solution lies in putting an end to the wars themselves.

To me, these two “subjects” hold personal significance as they are part of my own story. If you have read my previous blog posts, you may already be aware that I spent a significant portion of my childhood in Donetsk, a Ukrainian city under Russian control (at the time of writing, it still is). However, I would not have been labeled as a “child of war” in Donetsk if I had not entered Ukraine’s “care system.”

Children without parental care and children of war face additional stigmatization due to campaigns that overlook many crucial aspects of their experiences. While these campaigns are not dishonest, they often divert attention away from more important issues faced by these individuals, which can be equally detrimental.

In my opinion, the focus of these campaigns should shift, and there is no denying that fact. Instead of solely targeting incorrectly institutionalized children, campaigns should encompass all children without parental care, including those with living parents who are willing and capable of providing care. Similarly, campaigns supporting children affected by war should emphasize the complete cessation of conflicts, rather than solely addressing immediate needs like food, water, and medicine. Although these essentials are undoubtedly necessary, they do not make a substantial difference if the underlying situation persists. Holding high-ranking individuals accountable for their actions through trials could potentially facilitate these solutions. However, even the International Criminal Court (ICC) must be recognized and empowered to take action, which contradicts the principles we are currently fighting for. It is disheartening that non-recognition hinders the possibility of meaningful change.

True campaigns and, more importantly, concrete actions should occur without delay. While several commendable “children of war” campaigns are organized by various organizations, they often get overshadowed by the sheer number of campaigns, making it difficult for them to stand out. Personally, my focus does not lie primarily in this area.

Nevertheless, there is an undeniable need for campaigns supporting children without parental care. At present, few campaigns address anything other than the “Families, Not Orphanages” narrative. While this statement holds validity, the campaigns themselves often lack substance due to misplaced emphasis. Moreover, it is impractical for me to know every charity and foundation that exists, making it challenging to find legitimate organizations dedicated to supporting children without parental care. I am only aware of two charities that genuinely champion this cause without excessive religious ties. However, it is worth mentioning that these two charities are not international; one is located in the USA, supporting Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and more recently, Central Asia, while the other is situated in Russia and Ukraine, providing support exclusively within those countries. Children without parental care exist in every country, not just in Eastern European, Western, and Central Asian regions.

My opposition to the “Families, Not Orphanages” campaigns stems from their limited scope, which only supports children without parental care who have living family members. This renders these campaigns ineffective for true orphans, who lack any surviving parents. Furthermore, orphanages are specifically designed for orphans, so children without parental care who have living families should not reside there. In reality, they live in children’s homes. However, the main issue lies in the conditions of these children’s homes and orphanages, which have been overlooked as a result of the anti-institutionalization campaigns. The stigma surrounding the term “orphan” is a prime example of people’s lack of understanding. Additionally, the abuse that occurs within these institutions, inflicted by both adults and fellow children without parental care, remains largely unaddressed.

Here are some of the documented instances of abuse that I am certain have taken place:

  1. Physical abuse: I have personally experienced beatings from both adults and other children without parental care.
  2. Sexual abuse: Fortunately, I have not been a victim of sexual abuse, but I have witnessed instances of “fellow children without parental care” perpetrating such acts against each other. It disgusts me to think about it, and it is an issue that cannot be easily resolved within the system. Regarding adults, I will refrain from discussing further, except to acknowledge that it does occur.
  3. Acid and fire incidents: The stigma surrounding this topic is understandable, as it is deeply painful for me to recount my own experience. Both adults and other children without parental care are responsible for these horrifying acts. While children without parental care rarely target each other with fire, I have witnessed instances of animals being deliberately set ablaze. If you show any reaction to these acts, you become a target yourself, so it is essential to conceal your emotions. This was particularly challenging for me, as I cannot tolerate cruelty toward nature or humans. Adults always targeted us, often burning us with cigarettes, causing indescribable pain. Acid attacks took various forms, including pouring bleach onto open wounds. Both practices leave scars, and my back bears witness to these traumatic experiences.
  4. Seclusion: While seclusion may seem like a positive or at least neutral measure, it is far from it. Being isolated from others, especially in children’s homes where children without parental care target each other, guarantees that you will be attacked upon reintegration. Psychological effects also accompany seclusion, as bullying often occurs upon return.
  5. Bullying: As mentioned earlier, bullying is an unfortunate reality, as children without parental care are different from others, providing grounds for bullying. Regrettably, a significant number of care workers either ignore or even participate in the bullying. While they may not always be aware of their actions, the impact is greater than their intentions. I have personally experienced bullying, and I believe it is a shared experience among children without parental care.
  6. Medical abuse: Adults administer medical abuse, including incorrect dosages of medication to those who require it. I have personally been a victim of this twice, resulting in the need for my stomach to be pumped and a transfer from one children’s home to another city. This type of abuse is alarmingly frequent, and I believe local government officials are aware of the issue, given the continuous influx of children without parental care into hospitals.
  7. Violence and aggression: This category encompasses a more general and less specific range of acts. I have chosen to address it separately as not all the aforementioned abuses necessarily involve aggression or extreme violence.

Even this list only scratches the surface, and there are likely numerous other instances of abuse that I cannot recall at present. Ultimately, all of these forms of abuse contribute to the overall neglect of children without parental care. It seems as though society views them as unimportant, and when their mistreatment is acknowledged, it is often swiftly forgotten. It is essential to remember that sexual abuse is not exclusive to girls; boys, like myself, also suffer from this form of abuse.

In conclusion, the phrase “What we don’t see, we don’t know” encapsulates the prevailing issue. It is imperative that we shed light on the reality faced by children without parental care, particularly within children’s homes and orphanages. These issues were previously at the forefront of discussions until anti-institutionalization campaigns took center stage. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding children without parental care remains significant, and the general public lacks a comprehensive understanding of what it truly means to be an orphan. It is crucial that true campaigns and tangible actions are undertaken immediately to address these systemic problems and ensure the well-being of children without parental care.

Old version (What we don’t see, we don’t know)

Update January 2018: Article improved with help of a friend native to the English language.

Update: As my English has improved, so did I notice that what I wrote here was wrong in terminology. The too often clarified misuse of the term “orphan”. I have tried to improve this, but this has taken away some of the overall readability of what I wrote.
Note: Many thanks to “Ark of Hope for Children, Inc.” at the United States of America for their continuous support of what I wrote below, and their support to me in my times of need. Without them this article was not possible.

Most often you can’t say anything, and already people think they know.
However, quite often the opposite is true.
The easiest of these examples are religion, nationality and health discussions.
Yet, while they are the easiest examples, they are not the only ones.

I can get quite annoyed sometimes about what people say.
People often classify others as bad just for their nationality or religion.
It is just wrong, as it just taking some kind of weird general image…
And that should say all, “general image”…
No-one is the same, so all those images are wrong.
Yet while these images are known for the subjects of religion, nationality and health, they are often unknown for some other subjects…

Two of the subjects where people often forget to speak out,
are in support of are children without parental care and children of war…
Like I have already stated before, it are not all children without parental care that actually get support of the “orphan campaigns”, and not even orphans to begin with.
Neither is this often the case for children who are affected by war.
Many campaigns about children of war indeed use photos of children, yet, they don’t actually look at the true essential need…
The discontinuation of wars.

These 2 “subjects” are however more to me than just that, they are part of who I am.
If you read my blog before, you should already know I lived the majority of my childhood in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, this includes while it was (and at the time of writing, still is) in control of Russia…
Still, I never would have been at Donetsk and being able to be seen by people as “child of war” if I hadn’t come into the “care system” of Ukraine…

Children without parental care and children of war are actually more stigmatized by the fact of the campaigns that are making people look past many things that happen.
While there are no lies at these campaigns, they make people focus on far less important facts to these persons, and that can in these situations be counted equally as bad.

To me personally the focus of these campaigns should shift, there is just no denying.
Campaigns that currently focus on incorrectly institutionalised children should focus on all children without parental care, and not just that little group that are covered by the campaigns, the children with living parents, who are able and even willing to live with their parents.
And the campaigns of supporting children affected by war should focus on the full discontinuation of the wars, instead of just food, water and medicine.
as while they are obviously needed, it does not make a true difference if the situation itself is just continuing around them.
And often these solutions could be easier if the high-placed people have to stand trial for their acts, as they would need to think twice.
However, even the ICC(International criminal court) should be recognized before being able to act, which to me goes against everything we are fighting for these days….
It just makes it easy that no-recognition means no possible acts…

To me true campaigns, and even more important true acts, should happen right now.

While there are quite some valid and good “children of war” campaigns happening by organisations, they are still overshadowed by the fact many organisations go through campaigns too fast, making them not really stand out of the crowd at all.
It is there where my own interest isn’t that focused at.

There is however without a doubt also a true need for campaigns in support of children without parental care.
At this moment in time there are very few that are about anything else than “Families, Not Orphanages”.
And as valid as this statement might be, the campaigns are not valid because of their attention (most often) lying elsewhere.
And apart of just that, I won’t be ever be able to know every single charity and foundation, which I would need to find the valid charities in support of children without parental care.
As there are only 2 charities I know that are fighting a true righteous cause for children without parental care without putting too much focus on religion.
As in case of children without parental care, I dislike religious ties to charities and foundations, as there is another problem, which I will take head-on in a next blog post.
The 2 charities however are not even international, 1 of them is located at the USA, supporting Eastern Europe, Western Asia and more recently Central Asia, the other one is located at Russia and Ukraine, supporting only Russia and Ukraine…
Yet, children without parental care are there in every country, not just in Eastern European and Western and Central Asian countries…

The reason for me standing against the “Families, Not Orphanages” campaigns is because of them actually only standing to help children without parental care which have living families, the more specific example of orphans don’t even have parents, making these campaigns invalid for them.
And even more importantly, orphanages are locations for orphans only, so children without parental care with living families shouldn’t live there, and factually don’t, as they live at children’s homes.
Regardless though, the actual main problem is actually the situation at children’s homes and orphanages, something all these campaigns have moved their attention away from.
The fact most children without parental care have living families is only important if the support would also be there for orphans, those who do not have living parents, but also actually those do not want to return to their biological families.
As in fact that is a possibility too.
In current days with acceptance of 5 year old being able to identify as the opposite gender openly, shouldn’t a child without parental care have their own choice of decision too?

Where to me personally should be a focus on supporting children without parental care is the actual situations at children’s homes and orphanages, where the attention used to be at before the anti-institutionalization campaigns took over all the news surrounding children without parental care.
As, sadly, the stigma remains huge, with the fact of people not knowing what an actual orphan is being the greatest example, but also the stigma about actual experiences, the most notable to me being the abuse at children’s homes and orphanages by both adults and fellow children without parental care…
As what I know for certain that happens are the following:

  • Beatings – Happened to me by both the adults and the other children without parental care
  • Rape – I am very happy and lucky this hasn’t happened to me, I have however seen it happen to “fellow children without parental care” by “fellow children without parental care”, it still disgusts me to think about it, there is in fact nothing you can do to stop it as children without parental care, as you will become the target otherwise. I do not even want to say anything about the adults, only know that it happens…
  • “Acid and Fire” – The stigma surrounding this is actually understandable, as I would not even want to talk about it, as my story surrounding this hurt my soul even now. This happens by the adults and the other children without parental care.
    While most often children without parental care won’t target other children without parental care with fire and I have only seen once the children without parental care-acid connection, animals are targeted, quite some times going as far as putting them ablaze, it has been very hurtful for me to see this, yet, if you show any response, you can get the others to target you, so you have to avoid showing how you feel, which was very hard to me, as I just can not stand cruelty against nature, just as much as I can not stand it against humans. The adults always targeted us, cigarettes being pushed onto our skin, hurting in ways indescribable. Acids could be in multiple ways, think of bleach being poured over even open wounds as one the lesser examples. Both end up in scars, which my back is in fact filled with…
  • Seclusion – This may sound as something to be happy about, or at least something that is not bad, however, this is not true. Being secluded, so taken away of the others, is 1 of the bad things to happen at a children’s home, especially at children’s homes where children without parental care target children without parental care, as you can be certain that once you are with them again, they will attack you and you will need to defend yourself. However, there are also psychological effects, as it often happens that you are bullied when you are back.
  • Bullying – Already stated before, it happens, as like in normal life, you are not the same as the others, and people are always able to find reasons to bully. Sadly, there is quite a huge amount of care-workers who either ignore or even join in the bullying, they might not be aware always that they do, but the act is bigger than the thought. Happened to me like I would think every children without parental care will have experienced.
  • Medical Abuse – This is done by adults, think of incorrect dosages of medication for the ones who are prescribed them, has in fact happened to me twice. both times my stomach was needed to be pumped empty and I was changed of Children’s home to a different cities over it. This actually happens very very very often, and I believe this is actually known to local governmental people, as you can not have a continuous flow of children without parental care coming to hospitals and never think anything more of it…
  • Violence and Aggression – A more general and less specific one then the others, I choose to state this as separate one as not all of the above acts are done in a way of showing aggression or are done very violently.

And even that list is just the things I still remember.
Meaning it probably will be far and far longer.
When you would look at it, it is all abuse.
It is however ignored, as if children without parental care are not important.
Or when it is actually recognized it happens.
it is often forgotten that sexual abuse does not only happen to the girls, but also to boys, like myself…

It all ends up in 1 phrase…

What we don’t see, we don’t know.

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