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The Woman with 100 Dogs
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Antonio Franco
16 Mar 2015

Over fifteen years ago, Edina Prado, 70, adopted two stray dogs at the local college where she taught history. Little did she know how that day would affect her future. Over these fifteen years, her and her husband, Euracy Prado, 80, continued adopting stray dogs off the street. Today they have over 110 dogs at home, although they admit they’ve lost count. Despite bringing her waves of endless chores, she credits them for helping her overcome depression. The fact that they go though nearly a half-ton of dog food each month (400kg/880lbs) doesn’t deter them from trying to find homes for as many stray dogs as they can.

“What is our purpose on Earth?” she asked. “Some people take care of other people, I take care of dogs”. She added before finishing, “We should leave the world a better place than we found it.”

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Syria's Orphans Stuck in Limbo
Reyhanli
By Isabel Hunter
03 Feb 2015

Reyhanli, Turkey

February 3, 2015

As Turkey’s urban refugee population skyrockets, keeping track of the most vulnerable children is becoming impossible and the risk of sexual and work exploitation is increasing. Turkey's traditionally effective orphan care system is overwhelmed and cannot cope with the burden. In such cases, adoption is often a part of the solution. However, adoption remains extremely rare for both cultural reasons and a lack of infrastructure to manage safe and secure adoptions.

Syrian NGO Maram started an orphanage to help protect some of these children. Ruba Shalish, 11, arrived to the orphanage two weeks ago. She had lived with her grandfather, 75-year-old Nadir, in his small garage-house for one year after losing both of her parents in Syria. She is happy at the orphanage and interacting very well with her friends, as shown by her confident performance in a show organized by the orphanage management. While the orphanage can take 75 children, founder Yakzan Shishakly refuses to allow them to be adopted, despite frequent inquiries, fearing that the unregulated adoption system could easily lead to human trafficking. For many, the most logical solution to the crisis is to expand the existing orphanage infrastructure. However, alleviating the growing problem remains a distant reality.

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Abandoned Children in Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Simon Letellier
29 Sep 2014

Bulgaria is one of the countries in the world most affected by the abandonment of children. Every year, 2,000 babies are placed in state institutions, while over 7,000 infants and teenagers live without parents. This practice of abandoning children is a by-product of the family policy in the countries that were part of the Soviet Union. In these countries, the state or "homeland" acted as the surrogate mother for abandoned children and took care of families. As a result, thousands of children in Bulgaria have grown up without proper care and affection. The shocking images of the Rumanian orphanages in the eighties opened the eyes of the authorities and public opinion about these child prisons. In 2009, a BBC report showing wild children in Bulgaria fighting for food and living in terrible conditions greatly upset the population. Over the last few years, NGOs, the European Union, and Unicef have mobilized in an effort to close these orphanages. The state of Bulgaria also decided on a national plan to close the institutions. The authorities made a commitment to provide alternative housing and care for these children, which involves developing a network of host families, facilitating adoption processes, helping the biological families financially to encourage them to keep their children, and creating small institutions to help handicapped children (42 % of the abandoned children suffer from a disability). But what really needs addressing is the causes behind the high level of abandonment. Poverty, lack of access to healthcare (among the Roma minority in particular), poor sexual education, and the high price and inaccessibility of contraceptives are all issues that contribute to the problem. This is a colossal challenge for the poorest country in the European Union, compounded by corruption. Another angle to the story: ‘Mothers in Chains’ After being abandoned, the child has to grow up without a mother. Placed in an institution, they are surrounded by women who will give them care and affection. Nurses, nannies, volunteers and, in the best cases, a family assistant if there is placement in host family or foster mother if they are lucky enough to be adopted. To make up for the absence of the biological mother, surrogate mothers' chain is going to be set up. Who are these women who devote themselves to taking care of these abandoned children? How do they work? What are the aftereffects on the children after having so many different maternal relationships?

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Shumen
By Simon Letellier
02 Jul 2014

A nurse plays with two children in the garden of Shumen Institution, the oldest institution in Bulgaria. Built in 1935, it has previously housed hundreds of children. Because of de-institutionalization, they are now less than a dozen children within its walls, all with disabilities. Children with lighter disabilities come to spend the day there before heading back to their homes at night.

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Abandoned Children 13
Shumen, Bulgaria
By Simon Letellier
02 Jul 2014

Shumen Institution is the oldest one in Bulgaria. Built in 1935, it has previously housed hundreds of children. Because of de-institutionalization, they are now less than a dozen children within its walls, all with disabilities. Children with lighter disabilities come to spend the day there before heading back to their homes at night.

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Abandoned Children 02
Targovishte, Bulgaria
By Simon Letellier
01 Jul 2014

At the Turghoviste Institution, a nurse feeds a disabled little girl. At the institution, there are seven nurses for seven disabled children. Children with less severe disabilities have a higher chance of getting adopted.

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Abandoned Children 12
Targovishte, Bulgaria
By Simon Letellier
01 Jul 2014

Zlatka Rizaeva, a nurse at the Turghovist Institution, takes care of a young disabled boy in the room where all the seven disabled children sleep at the institution.
As Rizaeva introduces us to the seven children, a girl holds on her two legs. Others spend their days sleeping, coiled in their colored sheets, sometimes unable to move. "It is very hard this work with them," admits Rizaeva. "They need a lot of care. And then, our job is often depreciated. People have difficulty understanding our everyday life here. They do not think of the many positive things this kind of institution offers."

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Another Sky: An Uruguayan journey 28
Maldonado, Uruguay
By Francesco Pistilli
26 Jan 2014

Franco (18) and Helena Maria (2) came from poor rural families to be adopted by Daniel M. (52) and Walter MA (38), activists in the LGBT community who have been adopting underprivileged children at the biological parents' behest.

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Another Sky: An Uruguayan journey 29
Maldonado, Uruguay
By Francesco Pistilli
26 Jan 2014

Daniel M. (52) and Walter MA (38) have the biggest homosexual family in Latin America. After 20 years as a couple, they have adopted four children: Franco, Mayara, Maria Pia and Helena Maria. The children arrived from poor families where they couldn't survive. In these last 20 years, desperate mothers have asked to Walter and Daniel to adopt their children. "They're not Desaparecidos!" Daniel says, "they have constant contact with their biological families". Daniel and Walter have been active in the LGBT community in Latin America for 25 years. Today, adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 16 countries, including Uruguay.

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International Children's Day (2 of 18)
Ankara, Turkey
By Amy Hume
23 Apr 2013

Turkey's Next Generation

Turkey's International Children's Day, April 23, was created in 1927. In addition to local school celebrations, many people pay their respects to the Turkish Republic's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on this day. Atatürk, who adopted 13 children, stressed the importance of education for future success of the Republic.

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International Children's Day
Ankara, Turkey
By U.S. Editor
23 Apr 2013

Turkey's International Children's Day, April 23, was created in 1927. In addition to local school celebrations, many people pay their respects to the Turkish Republic's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on this day. Atatürk, who adopted 13 children, stressed the importance of education for future success of the Republic.