Dear Friend of DRI,
Several years ago, DRI investigated and exposed the horrendous conditions of thousands of poor and disabled children living in institutions in Serbia. So egregious were the abuses, that we called what we had uncovered torture. The United Nations’ top experts agreed with us and DRI led an international campaign to end torture in Serbian orphanages. As a result, Serbia banned new placements in orphanages, supporting families instead.
Today – due to your support of our work – Serbia has one of the lowest rates of institutionalized children in all of Europe. Additionally, the European Union will no longer fund the building of orphanages for children in any of its member or potential member states.
One fact rings out loud above the others – children need love to thrive. Up to 95% of all children living in orphanages around the world have living parents and/or extended families, but poverty and disability push vulnerable families to give up their children – thinking they might have a better life in an orphanage. Truth be told, love, touch, one-on-one care and family-like connections are rarely, if ever, found in an institutional setting. Neglected in orphanages, children literally wither away. And many die.
The photos here tell the story: You can see the pain, sadness and hopelessness - and then you can see the joy that living with a family can bring! This is what your support can achieve. Thank you. We need to continue to fight for the human rights of all institutionalized children around the world. And we continue to need your help.
Wishing you and those you love the happiest of holidays and a peaceful New Year.
Laurie Ahern - President