Hardships of living in a transition economy

An SOS family sitting on the sofa (photo: B. Neeleman)

Borovljany is a small town about 20 km north-east of the country's capital, Minsk. Our organisation is situated in a rural area and is surrounded by many farmhouses and hostels accommodating the staff of numerous clinics in the vicinity. The children from the area attend the kindergarten and schools in the nearby town of Lesnoj.

As the capital city, Minsk is at the centre of the country's economic and social developments. The manufacturing and service sectors are important sources of employment and income, with many key industries still controlled by the state. However, the transition economy has resulted in instability. Unemployment and underemployment continue to be high. The social welfare system does not manage to protect the most vulnerable. The cost of living has continued to rise and many families now live in poverty. Households with many children, single- parent households and those where only one parent works are more likely to live in poverty. 

In addition to economic factors, the main reasons why children lose parental care in the area are parental neglect, alcoholism or the deteriorated health of the parents. Many of the children who SOS Children's Villages works with have faced many difficult situations such as family violence and suicides. These traumatic experiences which affect all areas of their everyday life mean that they are in need of psychological support. Special attention is given so that they can concentrate in school and therefore profit fully from their schooling.

Providing support for those who need it most

Although the state has taken some measures to help children who have lost parental care, our work in the area remains as crucial today as it was when we started working in the area. SOS Children's Villages has been very active in influencing the social care standards in the country. In addition, the provision of support to families and children who have lost parental care, the training of local educational staff, and the tailored support to young people embarking on an independent life have formed the core of our organisation's work in the area. 

What we do in Borovljany