Dear friends and supporters,
After a long summer break we are back to you with some news from Lithuania. Three members of our Board of Directors, Otmar and Ingrid Debald and Jurate Bogacz, traveled to Lithuania from September 5-8, 2019 for our annual visit to the Children’s Villages and for various discussions. At the same time, we also said goodbye to the long-time Children’s Village director, Vytautas Sulinskas, on his retirement and once again took part in the interactive PATRIA camp, which is an important part of our youth work.
Please find now the report about our visit and a few photos attached.
CHILDREN’S VILLAGE MARIJAMPOLES
The visit to the Children’s Village in Marijampoles this time was marked by the farewell of Director Sulinskas. It was a very special moment for all involved: Director Sulinskas, who led the Children’s Village for 15 years, went into well-deserved retirement on September 6, 2019. In a very moving service, he was bid farewell by the staff, by the children and by our board team. Otmar Debald paid tribute to his work in an emotional speech and thanked Director Sulinskas for making our long-standing collaboration so productive and for his dedicated and selfless service to children’s education – even in difficult moments. His successor Odetta comes from the organization of the village. She has more than ten years of experience as a social educator. We wish her all the best for the management of the village and look forward to good cooperation. At the end of this moving day, the Children’s Village staff and the German guests had dinner together.
Currently, 23 children live in three Children’s Village homes in the Children’s Village. The youngest child is 13 years old, so there are only teenagers in the children’s village at the moment. Therefore, many children have known us for many years and so we were greeted by them very sweetly and with small gifts. There was a lot to report:
- During the long summer vacations the children made some trips (like to a “Snow Arena”) and traveled with their family for a week to the “Karkle Summercamp” at the beautiful sandy beach of the Baltic Sea. They had a lot of fun there biking, swimming and playing on the beach. Our association supported this trip financially.
- In the spring, six young people celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation in a beautiful church ceremony, administered by Bishop Norvila. The mothers and social workers of the Children’s Village accompanied their charges, all were festively dressed.
- Now school has started again in Lithuania at the beginning of September 2019 and “normal” life goes on, with various activities in the children’s village in the afternoon such as music or sports lessons.
On the sidelines of the farewell ceremony there were also talks with the church representative about the future of the children’s village in Marijampoles. It is still not clear how many children will live in the Children’s Village in the long term according to the new legal requirements for family care and what will happen to the vacant Children’s Village houses in Marijampoles and Kaunas. This situation is stressful for everyone involved. In the discussions, we advocated that the children who live in the village today should be able to stay there until they reach the age of majority. This is also the goal of the church sponsors. We will have further discussions on this topic and report soon.
IMPRESSIONS FROM PATRIA – CAMP 2019
The now third PATRIA camp was a wonderful experience for the guests and an important event for the youth participants. The camp took place as in previous years – in late summer warm weather – in the beautiful open-air museum Rumsiskes. In the PATRIA program, approximately 60 orphans between the ages of 17 and 24 are now receiving targeted care. Just under half of them attended the camp this year. Another 20 young people attended a dinner in Kaunas on the eve of the camp. Thus, we (the three representatives of our board team) were able to meet almost all members of the PATRIA program. The personal encounter with young people is an important element of our work. In this way, the young people feel the personal support, while we, as friends from Germany, can get personally involved in discussions and workshops.
The camp program again consisted of lectures, workshops and team-building activities. The young people will particularly remember a full-day workshop in which they were able to discover their strengths and develop self-confidence. As in previous years, the experienced “Lead Yourself” trainer Christina Sperling led this workshop. She was assisted by Akvilé, a dedicated young woman who herself has been a member of the PATRIA program for four years and has taken on responsibility as an assistant for the first time. Two other former camp participants also helped out in a supportive capacity. So it was nice for us to see that these young people are motivated to take responsibility and pass on their experiences to other young people on their way to independence.
Many of the youth did not know each other before the PATRIA camp, as the participants come from many different homes in the greater Kaunas and Marijampoles area. That’s why it was important to develop a sense of community and responsible interaction at the camp. In addition to the workshops, the entertaining community activities also provided an opportunity for this. For a whole evening the participants – and we as guests – learned Lithuanian folk dances under the guidance of a musical group – with great fun. At the end of the evening there was an atmospheric campfire, with good conversations between us and the young people.
OUTLOOK: CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN AND GENERAL MEETING OF MEMBERS
- We are already planning for this year’s Christmas campaign and will contact you in early November 2019 with more information and a request for your support.
- On Friday, December 6, 2019, at 6 p.m., we will hold our Annual General Meeting this year in Frankfurt/Main and we ask our members to make a note of this date.
Dear friends and supporters, we thank you for your trust in our work and welcome feedback.
In heartfelt solidarity
Yours Ingrid and Otmar Debald
for the team of “Children’s Villages in Lithuania e.V.”.