EveryChild recently invited me to photograph their work supporting children who are growing up in institutional care in Moldova.
In Moldova – one of the poorest countries in Europe – nearly half of the population lives below the national poverty line.
Many children spend their childhoods in institutional care because migration, poor housing, economic insecurity and limited social services have weakened the ability of some parents to care for their children.
Sometimes they’ve been left behind by migrant parents, whereas in other cases teachers or officials have jumped to conclusions that were biased against a child (because they’re displaying behavioural disorders) or parent (who are pigeonholed as ‘incapable’) making no attempt at empathy, understanding or counseling.
Institutions are always harmful. Children in institutional care are more likely to suffer from poor health, delays in cognitive, social and motor development, and emotional attachment disorders compared with those growing up in a family setting. Sadly institutional care often remains the traditional response to ‘protecting’ children from harm and ‘rescuing’ them from inadequate parenting.
EveryChild is an international development charity working to stop children growing up vulnerable and alone. They recently celebrated over ten years’ work in Moldova where a quarter of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Poverty, unemployment and poor housing have weakened the ability of some families to care for their children. In Moldova, EveryChild is working towards reuniting children with their families or foster carers in an effort to reduce the number of children in institutional care because every child has the right to grow up in a family setting.
Earlier this year I travelled with EveryChild to document what childhood is like for children in Moldova’s state-run institutions.