Sorin – Moldova


Sorin’s mother Marie spent much of her childhood in the Chisinau Institution for Babies and when Sorin was born, the cycle threatened to repeat itself.

Marie could not find work to support herself and had no way of paying rent. Like many young people who grow up in institutions, Marie also had no ID and could not therefore claim any social support. With little experience of family life and faced with being a single mother with no job and nowhere to live, a desperate, pregnant Marie was ready to abandon Sorin at birth.

The difference for Marie and Sorin was a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) set up in the grounds of the institution where Sorin would likely have been placed. Local NGO CCF Moldova secured Marie a place there when she was eight months pregnant and from there she had access to all of the services she needed to become self-reliant.

Marie and Sorin stayed in the Mother and Baby Unit for six months after his birth during which time Marie was supported to become properly registered. She began receiving her social allowance, had access to psychological support and support to find work as a secretary in a local school.

When the time came for Sorin and Marie to leave the Mother and Baby Unit, Sorin was enrolled in a nursery set up, as one of the alternative services to support vulnerable families in Chisinau.

At 12 months old, Sorin is a confident, playful little boy with a happy and secure home life.

Petia – Bulgaria


Petia was born prematurely, weighing less than 5 pounds, and with a genetic condition affecting her hands. She was very unwell and at risk of abandonment because her parents were struggling to care for her.

Both from Roma and Eastern Orthodox Christian families, Petia’s parents Margarita and Naum were abandoned as children and led disrupted family lives. As a child Margarita was diagnosed with a hereditary condition leading to muscular dystrophy which means she has difficulty with movement and balance as an adult.

The family were referred to an NGO in Bulgaria for support – a referral which probably saved Petia’s life.

Margarita and two-week-old Petia were both unwell when social workers visited the family at their home, a three room house belonging to an uncle who works in Greece. Margarita was suffering with a severe cold and Petia had a very high temperature. She was being looked after by a neighbour, Polina, who reported that she had been very unwell in the previous few days. Both mother and baby were admitted to hospital with Petia in a critical condition. There she was diagnosed with a respiratory problem – bilateral broncho-pneumonia – and a suspected heart problem. Thankfully, the medical team was able to stabilise her.

Two weeks later, Petia and Margarita were discharged and placed together in an Emergency Reception Centre where they could receive the support they needed. Naum visited them as often as possible when he wasn’t labouring on a farm where he had casual work.

In addition to ensuring Petia’s health and wellbeing and providing material support both parents received support to understand how to care for their child, building their confidence so they do not feel the best course of action is to abandon her in an institution. Naum’s grandmother is living in the neighbourhood and is supporting the family to care for Petia.

Margarita was supported to access a disability pension for herself as well as a maternity and child allowance. The family were also supported with budgeting skills to ensure they are able to provide for themselves with their small income.