UNICEF and ATFBank launch social project “In warm hands” to prevent child abandonment in Kazakhstan
ALMATY, Kazakhstan, 9 October 2012 — The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the AFTBank joint-stock company (JSC) have launched a social project called In warm hands to prevent the abandonment of children aged 0-3 in Kazakhstan, UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita and Romeo Collina, Chair of ATFBank told a joint press conference today.
Hundreds of children in Kazakhstan are deprived of parental care and placed in the state-run residential care institutions every year. Currently 1,500 children aged 0-3 are placed in infant homes in the country. A total 65 per cent of these children have no parents and need family care and home environment. The remaining 35 per cent of children have parents or single mothers who cannot care for them due to the lack of parental skills, poor living or housing conditions, and/or proper social and medical services to address children’s needs. All those children are denied of their basic rights, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, like the right to grow up in a family environment, to education, health or to protection from harm.
UNICEF and AFTBank, which is a member of UniCredit Foundation, have united their efforts to assist the Government of Kazakhstan establish a comprehensive and multi-sectoral mechanism to prevent the abandonment of children aged 0-3 in the country.
"We believe that business should understand its social responsibility and actively participate in social projects. That is why we decided to launch a project In warm hands aimed at decreasing the abandonment rate of newborn children together with UNICEF which has a colossal experience and uses the best international practices. Within this project we have created an affinity card [affinity – involvement], which would help everyone participate in the projects and make its own contribution," Romeo Collina, Chair of the ATFBank JSC, told the press conference.
The international studies and practice proves that the situation of children living in state care institutions is disturbing; institutionalization – no matter how well intentioned – hinders intellectual, physical, emotional and social development. Many institutionalized children in Kazakhstan spend their entire infancy, childhood and adolescence in institutions, losing all contact with their families.
“Our goal is to prevent 0-3 child abandonment in the country, so that newborn babies stay with their mothers or, in case of unpreventable abandonment, are adopted or fostered and grow in a family environment. We are very pleased that ATFBank showed keen interest in corporate social responsibility initiative and selected UNICEF as their partner. We are joining our hands together to help babies and mothers stay together in a warm family environment”, Jun Kukita, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan said.
Everyone can become a participant of the project with the help of affinity cards by using this card in a daily life without additional costs. The Bank will transfer 50 per cent of its profit from transactions of these cards to this project. The cards have been issued by the international payment MasterCard system in two options - MasterCard Standard and MasterCard Gold - for the mass market and premium segment correspondingly. Cost of the card is in compliance with standard tariffs of the Bank. The cards can be both credit and debit.
The joint programme will focus on promoting inter-sectorial approach in Astana and Karaganda cities of all involved stakeholders to the issue of child abandonment and will be implemented by conducting legislative review, awareness raising communication campaign, establishing counseling units and supporting temporary housing for women at risk of abandoning a child, raising capacity of specialists working with single mothers and families at risk of abandoning a child, developing standards of practice for maternity wards and pediatric hospitals staff to support parents of newborns with a disability and parents from most vulnerable groups.