|© UNICEF video|
|Delegates from Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine attend high-level Conference on Child Care System Reform in Chisinau.|
CHISINAU, Moldova , 7 December 2009 – Tudor Culeanu, 15, looked on with pride while his short film, ‘The Moscow Train’, was presented to delegates attending a high-level Conference on Child Care System Reform in the Moldovan capital.
The opening shot of his film shows a train about to depart and a message scrawled in large letters in chalk saying, “Mom, come back home!”
The train gathers speed as the camera pans to reveal three brothers left standing on the railway platform. It's an image that lingers in the mind of the young filmmaker, and it was inspired by a harsh reality: Tudor was one of nine siblings abandoned when their mother moved to Russia to find work.
Home for Tudor is now a large institution housing more than 300 children in Straseni
|© UNICEF video|
|Of the 2 million children in institutionalized care around the world, more than 800,000 come from Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.|
In September, he took part in a ‘OneminutesJr’ filmmaking workshop here. Initiated several years ago by the European Cultural Foundation, the One Minutes Foundation and UNICEF. The OneminutesJr project has held workshops around the globe to develop new tools for youth empowerment and social change.
Tudor’s one-minute video, as well as others produced by youths at the Moldova workshop, were posted online. Tudor’s video was also shown on Moldovan television.
“This film was a great possibility for me to tell the world that I have a dream for my mother to come back home, and I would like other children to have this possibility to make a film about their lives," said Tudor.
Reforming child care systems
Out of an estimated 2 million children who are in institutionalised care around the world, more than 800,000 come from Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States. Many young and disabled children are abandoned in institutions or living at home without specialised care.
To help prevent the separation of children from their families, participants in the Conference on Child Care System Reform urged governments to accelerate reforms by reallocating existing social and family support resources.
The conference brought together delegates from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Government representatives agreed to start developing community-based services and phase out state-run children’s institutions.
“I hope this meeting will achieve, for the five countries that are here, a new energy and a commitment to reforming child care systems,” said UNICEF Regional Director Steven Allen. “It's important that children in institutions, separated from their families either by economic crisis or migration, can find a new way to be cared for – and. indeed, be reunited with their natural families."
Impact of global financial crisis
Poverty, migration and disabilities often pushes families to abandon their children. At the same time, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are among the most severely hit by the global economic crisis.
In 2008, approximately 210,000 children were living in various types of alternative care arrangements in all of the five countries. More than 110,000 of them were growing up in institutions.
Tudor hopes the story of his film will reach not only parents facing similar problems to his family’s issues, but also government leaders who can make a real difference in the lives of children living in institutions.