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How to help an orphan become an adult?



Any child always needs support, an example to follow, and a close person who will give advice and will not leave in difficult times. And what if it's a child from a boarding school? The help of sponsors and educators is not enough for a teenager to be ready for an independent adult life. For such purpose, mentorship exists – adult representatives of different specialties who are ready to share not only professional secrets, but also their life experience and wisdom.

“The fight against orphanhood is one of the most important problem areas that the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has been systematically working on for nine years,” says Natalia Baryshpolska, Head of the “Say No to Orphanhood!” Program. – Thanks to the “Say No to Orphanhood!” Program, over this period almost nine thousand children have found new families, the Foundation took part in the creation of 41 family-type children's homes. But, according to statistics, children over the age of 12 have virtually no chance of adoption, as most adoptive parents prefer infants. Adolescents graduate from boarding schools unprepared for adulthood. For their adaptation, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation initiated and successfully implemented the pilot project “Mentorship”. Forty-three children from Sviatohirsk and Mariupol received support they were deprived of. Mentors themselves assure that in return they receive much more than they give. In turn, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation is ready to share its experience in implementing the “Mentorship” Project.

Natalia Baryshpolska told at a specialized training “Corporate Mentorship” about how they managed to prepare dozens of orphans for the adult life.

The aim of the Project was to prepare children over the age of 12 for an independent life outside the orphanage. In most cases, they are not adapted at all for the outside world with all its challenges and difficulties, because they always lived under the state custody.

The project consisted of three main directions. As part of occupational orientation, children visited the enterprises of the SCM Group of Companies and the regional TV channel. For socialization, training and master classes were organized on first aid, financial literacy, as well as on cooking and furniture restoration. In addition, mentors individually helped children academically.

77 children from boarding schools of Sviatohirsk and Mariupol participated in the Project of the Foundation. 107 potential mentors were trained. For adults, trainings were organized to explain the rules of communication with these children and to prepare them for what they might encounter. It was also necessary to understand what children need from their mentors. When the work was done, pairs were selected – a child and a mentor. As a result, 43 adult project participants became individual mentors for children.

According to Natalia Baryshpolska, the Foundation's participation in the fate of the children did not end there. It was necessary to help children and adults become friends and begin to trust each other. After all, the authority must first be earned! The couples were helped come closer and provided psychological support at special events.

According to the results of the questionnaire, more than 70% of the children participating in the Project of the Foundation acquired new knowledge and skills necessary in adulthood. And they also received valuable advices on choosing a place of work from their mentors.