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  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Augustė, 10 years old, in the family living room. She lives together with her three siblings and their mother in a house that Save the Children Lithuania bought for them as part of the support they are receiving from the organisation.

     

    Augustė, her three siblings and mother were helped by Save the Children four years ago. Today they live in a small house in a village in north eastern Lithuania. They pay rent, but the money goes to a fund that will support the children’s future education.

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 50mm lens,
    1/320s at f/1.4

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Daiva outside the house where she lives with her four children. Save the Children Lithuania bought the house for them as part of the support they are receiving from the organisation

     

    Davia works part time and grows vegetables that she trades for other food items with neighbours. The family has managed to buy a cow. Save the Children relatively small investment was crucial for the family.

     

    “We lived very remotely and in a bad house I rented. It was the only place I could afford,” Davia says. “It was a long way to school for the children and I couldn’t find work there.”

     

    Moving to the village has taken the family out of the cycle of poverty they were in. The children were at risk of ending up in a child care institution. But now they all live together and have started building a new life without external support.

     

    “I don’t feel singled out because we received help from Save the Children,” Adriana 15 years old say. “Most of my friends don’t really know and besides there are a lot of families here that receive support in one way or another.”

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/125s at f/2.8

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Vakarė and other children are making Halloween cards at the day care centre in Raguvėlė. 30 children regularly attend the activities at the centre.

     

    The day care centre in Raguvėlė is the only place in the village where children can play, do homework and meet other children. The centre is supported by Save the Children Lithuania and other organisations.

     

    “We try to help the children learn better in school, to make them part of the community and good citizens,” Regina says. She is the manager of the centre.

     

    Most of the children at the day centre comes from the village, but some come from villages 3-4 kilometres away. The two rooms at the centre are filled with around 20 children on an average day. Not all children come every day.

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/60s at f/2.8

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Orinta, 9 years old, is doing her homework at the day care centre in Raguvėlė. She has been going to the centre since she was three years old.

     

    The manager of the centre, Regina, thinks the situation in the village has improved. It was common 20 years ago, that children were placed in orphanages due to the bad economic situation. Today this does not happen.

     

    Regina, the manager at the centre since it started:

     

    “I’ve seen two generations here at the centre. It is wonderful to see the children of the ones that came here as children. It is good to know life turned out well for them.”

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/60s at f/2.8

    • Featured in Tidningen Barn - Save the Children Sweden's magazine, reaching members, donors and libraries in Sweden.

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Regina has been the manager of the day care centre in Raguvėlė since it started in 1999.

     

    “When I work here I forget my aches and ailments. When I get to work, my body doesn’t ache anymore, because I see pain in the children that I can help get rid of. And then I don’t think about my age and my ailments.”

     

    Regina has seen improvements for children in the last two decades, but still the situation is hard for many children.

     

    “It happened more before, but children come to the centre for the food.”

     

    It is sensitive to talk about hunger as a problem in Lithuania and Regina herself and the centre has been criticised by people who don’t want to admit that hunger and poverty still is part of life in Lithuania. During the summer breaks, when schools are closed, more children come for food than during semesters when they have a free meal at school.

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/200s at f/2.8

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Vakarė (right) and one of her friends at the day care centre in Raguvėlė. The centre is the only place in the village where children can play, do homework and meet other children.

     

    The centre is supported by Save the Children Lithuania and other organisations. The centre is in a building that used to belong to the church across the road. Emmaus from Åland bought the house that was used as a grain storage by the church and renovated it.

     

    At holidays the centre invites the people in the village to activities and the day care centre is a popular place.

     

    “Children come here and feel relieved and safe, I think they feel free to express themselves,” Regina says.

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 105mm lens,
    1/500s at f/2 and 1/250 at f/2.2

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Laura Milčienė is one of Save the Children Lithuania’s psychologists, she meets parents and children in difficult situations in her daily work around the country.

     

    Corporal punishment isn’t only legal in Lithuania, but widely practiced by parents. It is socially acceptable to hit children as a part of raising them. Laura is one of Save the Children Lithuania’s three psychologists.

     

    “Alcohol, a lack of understanding of how to be a parent and in extreme cases violence in the family are some of the reasons children and mothers come to us.”

     

    “In most cases we work together with the authorities – like a team – but sometimes we are on opposite sides. Not because we want to, but because we feel they don’t do enough.”

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 105mm lens,
    1/500s at f/2

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Odeta Inte is responsible for Save the Children Lithuania’s advocacy work and works with the issue of orphanages and foster families.

     

    Save the Children Lithuania is working to change the attitudes to orphanages in the country. There are over 100 institutions in the country today, with over 3,000 children.

     

    “Children does not only need a good environment, they need a family. So, it doesn’t help if the orphanage is newly renovated or that the staff is trained, knowledgeable and caring. A child needs to be important for someone, not important to everyone,” Odeta says.

     

    Odeta has a foster son herself and says that that experience helps her in discussions with potential foster families and in talks with politicians and decision makers.

     

    “Talking about changes to children’s homes is not very popular, because the homes are big, with large staff. And if they are closed the staff will be out of a job and the community where they are located will suffer. And for a local politician who wants to be re-elected that is a hard subject to engage with.”

     

    Despite the difficulties, Odeta is positive and she sees the attitude in society slowly change.

     

    “You need to believe in children’s right if you are to work with this in the field. But the situation is changing.”

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/160s and 1/200s at f/2.8

  • Lithuanian childhoods.

    Rasa Dičpetrienė has been the CEO of Save the Children Lithuania since 2007 and has been criticised for her work against corporal punishment.

     

    When Save the Children started to work actively and publicly against corporal punishment there was a massive push back from many people. Rasa was the public face of the organisation and received aggressive responses and threats when she stood on the side of the children against violence and abuse.

     

    “It started with angry calls to our office and ended in death threats. People said we were mad, that what they did to their children was none of our business. It is difficult to admit that we have problems in our society and it is easy to blame the messenger.”

     

    Attitudes in Lithuanian society are slowly changing. It is no longer socially acceptable to beat your children on the street and corporal punishment is no longer mentioned as a positive and character forming part of growing up.

     

    “To change attitudes always takes time, but at least we have created a debate,” Rasa says. “It is hard to be patient, especially when we see that children suffer.”

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    Lithuania, 2016

    Save the Children

    Nikon D800
    Nikkor 24-70mm lens,
    1/500s at f/2.8