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Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko and her mother Maryna talk about their involvement with Hope and Homes for Children

In this month’s Marie Claire, Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko and her mother Maryna talk about their relationship together and their involvement with Hope and Homes for Children, a UK charity that ensures children across Central and Eastern Europe and Africa grow up in families.

Having been raised in a single parent family in poverty-stricken Ukraine, Olga was immediately interested in the work Hope and Homes for Children was doing in her home country, where an estimated 107,000 children are currently growing up in institutions.

Here, poverty is the main cause of family breakdown and there is very little support available for families who are struggling. Despite over sixty years of research showing the physical and mental harm that institutions do, in Ukraine they are still seen as the best way to care for vulnerable children.

Determined to see the charity’s life-changing work for themselves, Olga and Maryna visited an institution that Hope and Homes for Children are in the process of closing down. By supporting their families, the charity is enabling the children who live there to return home.

‘In the institution we met a sad and withdrawn boy called Sasha.’ Olga explains. ‘Sasha showed us the room he slept in – his bed was just one in a row of many. When I asked him to open his bedside table he hesitated, but when he finally did it appeared almost empty. I couldn’t believe his only possessions in the world were four broken pencils and two scraps of paper.

‘Sasha then said he wanted to do me a drawing and proudly gave me a picture of a family in a house together. Staff said this was this only thing he ever drew.

‘After a while Sasha remembered it was his ninth birthday; it was a complete afterthought. No fuss had been made of him – there were no cards, no cake and no party. He was convinced his mother would visit but the staff later told us that it was unlikely as she lived too far away and she had problems of her own she needed help with’

Sadly Sasha’s situation is by no means unique. A recent study showed 98% of children in institutions across Central and Eastern Europe have one or both parents alive, but poverty is one of the main factors keeping them apart.

To find out more about the work of Hope and Homes for Children or to make a donation visit www.hopeandhomes.org/marieclaire

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