Agape Trust is a family based initiative that provides personal help necessary to prevent children being separated from their parents/mothers and placed in an institutional orphanage.
The aim is to prevent children from being separated from their mothers and being taken into the foster care system. The focus is on helping the mother develop into a good parent and learn to bond and care for her child.
These young families are at risk of losing their children. The social welfare authorities place the children in a state orphanage, hoping that the parents will become responsible. Separating the child from its parent and waiting for the mother to become a responsible adult does sometimes work. In other cases the mother is unable to cope and there are no resources available to help the mother. Losing her child sends her down a spiral of helplessness she cannot get out from.
The young women we help grew up in the state orphanage system. They received good physical care, food, clothing, a place to stay and schooling. What they lacked in their upbringing was learning the life skills that are learned intuitively in a home environment. The difference between those who succeed and those who struggle is the home environment during their first formative years.
These mothers grew up in the orphanage system and lack the social skills to cope in society. Some of the young women we are helping who grew up in the orphanage system are the children and grandchildren of women who themselves grew up in the same orphanage system. By helping the mothers we are saving their children from landing in the orphanage system and by so doing break the generational cycle.
Our work consists of full time, all-round care and assistance provided for both mother and child in our home in order to help the young mother to mature, build self-esteem and confidence and develop the life-skills necessary for the challenges of parenthood and responsible living in the society.
These objectives are achieved through relationship based therapy in an encouraging, affirmative and safe environment as well as through very practical help making it possible for the young mothers to attend schools, finish their education and gain professional skills enabling them to become independent and self-supporting.
The need for this initiative arose due to cases of neglect of young mothers leaving the institutional child care system without adequate support resulting in unnecessary separations of mother and child and tragic life-long consequences for both.
How It Started
Our first encounter with these children took place during summer 2006 during summer camps for orphans where meeting these children made us realise what great damage is caused to the children by not living in a loving family atmosphere. This motivated us to start this initiative in order to help some of the young people to heal emotionally by living with us in our home.
We rented an apartment in a small town called Paslek, the closest town to the orphanage and started inviting children to visit us on weekends. Subsequently during the course of the next few years we came into contact and even made friends with many of the children from that institution. Our regular contact with the children made us more aware of the reality of the damages caused by living in an institution.
Through observing and talking to the children we were able to identify which of them needed our help most. We have noticed that most vulnerable are the girls that get pregnant and give birth to their babies directly after they turn 18 and have to move out of the orphanage. Since they have spent all or most of their life in an institution they are usually ill prepared for the challenges of the adult life outside.
Many of the girls get into abusive relationships and when they cannot cope any more and their world becomes dangerous to their children the authorities are very quick to place their children in institutions. Unfortunately the natural extended family of the young mother and child is often neither capable nor interested in taking care of them since most of these families have a long history of alcohol, drugs and/or abuse.
As we studied the subject deeper we realized the full scale of human rights violations that happen daily to many children living in institutions, not only in Poland, but also in other countries in Western Europe. The occurrences of many such unfair incidents are confirmed in the available research. In fact there are cases of children being medicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs to make the child compliant, when the problem is emotional and the child needs therapy to overcome the effect of emotional abuse. This amounts to institutional medical malpractice.
Pediatric malpractice is especially serious as children’s development can suffer lifelong problems from wrong diagnoses.
One example is cerebral palsy which may occur during fetal development, at birth or shortly after birth due to preventable medical malpractice.
The most significant consequence of separation and many years spent in an institution is attachment disorder caused by the lack of significant carer in the child’s life. Statistics show that this leads to tragedies caused by many unhappy/broken relationships throughout the person’s life. Most often their own children also end up in institutions.
Such a situation is a compelling cause for taking action since it has been said that children are our future! We consider it our duty as well as a tremendous opportunity to influence the lives of both the young mothers as well as their children in the positive direction God would desire. After all investing in their lives and future benefits the whole of society.
In order for these young mothers to have successful lives their souls need to heal, especially if they have been abused they need a lot of help to regain the dignity granted to them by God when he created them in His image. It is for that reason we want to create for them that special safe place, where they will have the opportunity to hear about God’s love for them and find their place in life.
At the moment we are taking care of two young mothers with their children at our apartment. These girls had nowhere to go after loosing housing contracts due to unpaid rents. The authorities intended to take their two baby girls away from them but stopped their procedures when the girls moved in with us. Since we have known these girls for a few years we were convinced that separating them from their children would have been a terrible mistake since they are not bad mothers.
We knew that given love, support and protection the girls would be able to grow up and mature, finish school, learn suitable professions and start jobs, providing a better future for their children. While the girls live with us they are cared for physically and emotionally and encouraged to develop healthy self-worth and confidence in themselves as well as trained in necessary life-skills in order to prepare them for independent life. They are also helped in seeking God’s will for their lives. They are doing very well as mothers and are praised for it, which helps them to start believing in themselves and that they can achieve other goals as well.
Based on our knowledge of the current situation of the children in the orphanage we can be sure that some of the girls that now live there will have nowhere to go when they turn 18. Not all of these will be willing to accept our Christian life-style with such conditions as: no smoking, no drinking and no going out with boys. Those girls will obviously not want to live with us. But there will be those who want to live a safe life based on such principles, and it is for these girls we want to further develop our project so that we will have place for them in our home.
Therefore we have purchased a 2.5 ha (6 acre) property just outside town, where we would like to create a safe environment for their development, and for the development of their children. At the moment we are finishing the building of a small cottage there but we already have plans to build a bigger house where 4-6 girls could live with their children.
The property has a lot of potential, as it is suitable for growing own vegetables and cultivating many different fruit trees. There is a small stream along part of the border and there are walking and riding trails in the nature reserve across the river. The close proximity to town centre (2km/1¼ miles) as well as very beautiful surroundings next to a nature reserve make this property an ideal place for growing up.
If needed it would be possible to build more houses/cottages on that property in the future.
At the moment we need funds to finish the cottage and fence the property. We are also looking for funds to start building the house.
We would be grateful for any assistance towards these goals.
As all basic expenses and overheads are covered any help given will go to this cause.
We are concentrating on helping teenage mothers to raise their children in a family home environment and so prevent their children from being placed into the orphanage system.
If you would like to help this mission we welcome you to please donate towards helping these young mothers.
Any donation goes 100% to the cause as all overheads are covered.
As we are based in Poland, the original Agape Trust is now registered in Poland as Fundacja Dzieci w Rodzinie (Children in the Family Foundation).
The new name reflects our focus.
Jesus said: “Whoever receives one little child like this
in My name, receives Me.” Matthew 18:5