One of the privileges of being Ambassador is all the opportunities you get to meet engaged people, dealing with crucial issues in society. Today I had one more experience of that kind: the visit I made with my wife Karin and Ms Irene Benthe to “Dzieci nieczyje” – Nobody’s children – the largest organisation figting child abuse in Poland.
I have wanted to make this visit for a long time for many reasons. I have heard so many positive comments about their work on children’s rights. It is supported i.a. by World Childhood Foundation (and also EU) and was actually visited by Queen Silvia during the State Visit to years ago. And our Embassy has also been cooperating with them several times e.g. last autumn by bringing a couple of Swedish experts to their annual conference.
The Foundation was established 22 years ago by Alina Margolis-Edelman (physician as well as participant in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 70 years ago…). Now is has grown to an organisation with a broad range of activities focused both on prevention of abuse and on direct help in situations of abuse http://fdn.pl/. We visited one of their four centres in Warsaw – one of them being used for the National Helpline but this one in Praga i.a. for counselling, therapy and parents groups. Interestingly enough they have noted an increasing level of interest among fathers that probably could be related to the increased level of encouragement for fathers to engage as parents. The paternal leave introduced a couple of years ago, although very short, was one example mentioned.
So much of what we saw was so impressive. The public awareness campaigns clearly so. One around the theme “Childhood without abuse” is covering several East European countries and is simply amazing. Another programme soon covering the whole city of Warsaw and conducted with the City hall as main partner is focused on early prevention of child abuse and neglect, reaching out both to all parents in general but also providing targeted support to identified families at risk.
We talked quite a lot about corporal punishment for obvious reasons. As I have heard previously from the Children’s Ombudsman Marek Michalak Sweden was an important source of inspiration when Poland 2010 adopted the new law prohibiting this kind of punishment. Interestingly enough “Nobody’s children” had noted an increased interest in their workshops on alternative discipling after the law came into force. There is still a lot of work to do to change attitudes but the trend seems to be slowly moving in the right direction.
88 staff members are engaged in this broad range of activities. They have challenging tasks for sure. But it is hard to imagine a more meaningful area of work. My week is ending on a very happy note after this inspiring experience.