Jõulusoovide puu

The Christmas wish tree is made up of the dreams and wishes of children in shelters and substitute homes, sent to Santa Clause. To make sure that these do not just remain dreams, pick a gift from the Christmas tree and make a donation to the best of your ability.


About children who have no one

The 1200 children living in Estonia’s substitute homes (children’s homes) have their bellies full and they are warm; but, compared to children of regular families, they have no one who would care for them unconditionally.

When their shift ends, the child care providers and other substitute home personnel leave for their own homes, and therefore a child does not even have the chance to form a safe and affectionate relationship. The Finnish psychotherapist Tommy Hellsten, who is well respected in the Nordic countries, has said that for a child to be a child, he or she needs someone whose child he or she can be, so writes Triin Lumi, CEO of the SEB Heategevusfond (SEB Charity Fund) and mother to three daughters.

As a parent, it is my duty to think of all the years that are ahead and to support my children as they grow up – to encourage them to learn to walk and to talk, to teach them their first letters and numbers, to bring them to hobby groups, to practice together for foreign language tests, to save up for their future education and so on.

How to raise a happy child?

If I think of all the skills that I need to teach to my children in order for them to be well prepared for life, as a parent I first and foremost want for them to be happy and intelligent, with good health, good social skills and successful in all their endeavours.

A good friend of mine takes her 2 year old son to singing practice three times a week because she envisions him in the ranks of the national orchestra in about ten years. While riding the train, a young mother explained how, after putting her six month old twins on a kindergarten waiting list, she already plans to enlist them for soccer training and after-school creative clubs. A friend of the family took a week off to attend the entrance examinations for different schools with her daughter, who will soon be going to school.

A neighbour plans to spend their vacation in Europe, accompanying her 13 year old daughter to roller skating competitions. As parents from a regular family, we expect perhaps too much from our children and set our expectations too high for them – perhaps, to some extent, in our heart we also wish for them to fulfil our own unfulfilled dreams.

We do everything for our children, so that they would want for nothing and could grow up to be the best they can be. … But from children who grow up in substitute homes or children’s homes no one usually expects anything. They do not have a caring super mom, who would compete with her girlfriends to attend all language courses for babies; or an eager father who would hand down all his tools to his newborn son and who cannot wait to be able to do all sorts of manly activities with his son …

But the child is from a children’s home!

In Estonia, children who lack parental care all too often have labels of prejudice attached to them. The teacher knows that these children have often not finished their homework and have not brought any learning materials – but what else is there to expect of them, they come, after all, from a children’s home. The neighbour thinks that what good is there to expect from a child anyway whose parents are “this kind of people”. Their classmates tease them because it is obvious to anyone that they are different, even if only because they do not live in a “real” home.

These are children who get a lot of bad marks. They are being judged with prejudice by the people around them, who are convinced that they are bad. But all this destroys something very important for a child – their self-confidence. By robbing them of their self-confidence, we are raising in these homes children who have already given up long before they start to live their own lives.

While children in substitute homes are indeed surrounded by good grown-ups who commit to them 24 hours a day, these people still do work in shifts, they are different and they change. A real mother does not work in shifts and does not step out of character in between. If a child from a substitute home has a singing contest a hundred kilometres from home, then it is very difficult to find someone to accompany that child and who is willing to do it at the expense of their own free time. It is understandable because these people do not want to rob their own families of anything, but the child who lacks parental care usually always draws the short straw. But with children raised in our own homes we do go on such trips, no matter what.

Every child is special!  Every child has the right and the need to grow up in a family!

It is so common that the talents of children who grow up without parental care remain undiscovered and that they are not always given the chance to succeed. The handbook for the personnel at the substitute homes has no special instructions telling them to find in every child something that makes that child special. But every child is talented in their own way, and no one in this world is destined to be a loser – they simply lack that SOMEONE who would always be there for them and towards whom to develop an affectionate relationship. The feeling of security that comes from such an affectionate relationship gives the child all the self-confidence, courage and skills to get ahead in life.

I give everything to my girls, whom I raise in my home – my faith, my hopes and my love, my warmth and closeness, my time and money, my wisdom and care, stability and harmony. I do everything I can to make them happy and well-adjusted members of society.

Every child in Estonia is a treasure. I believe that children are born from the heart – while some parents give life to their children, it is sometimes up to other parents to teach these children to live that life. We invite everyone to come and walk in Paide, the heart of Estonia, on 2 June. This gives us the chance to raise awareness, that every child needs a safe and loving family to grow up in.

Additional information about the walk on 2 June:  www.omapere.ee

Triin Lumi

Participate Thank you, if you have already supported our charity programme or if you are going to do it in the future! Sign a standing payment order contract in SEB Internet Bank for 3 euros a month or support with a single donation.