Poland: Family for children without families

The Jesuit social apostolate has managed to traverse the social and political upheavals of the 1980s and 90s through caring for the orphans of Cracow, where hundreds of children of alcoholics, prostitutes or the mentally ill experience damage, humiliation and poverty. During the communist regime, university student volunteers helped the children with their homework, weekend excursions and summer camps. In the early 90s, an abandoned farm at Zmiaca in the southern Polish mountains was recreated as an educational centre for orphans and children from broken homes. With the arrival of democracy, the Jesuit Province officially made it its own. During the summer holidays the centre welcomes over a hundred children from orphanages and broken homes. About 30 children from the ages of 2 to 11 live there year round. Children who cannot return to their parents may be adopted. An Adoption Office with psychologists, social workers and lawyers screens adults who want to adopt, who then meet the children in Zmiaca. The child?s own choice is very important, too. ?We believe that the problems of abandoned children can ultimately only be solved by finding them families,? says the founder Fr Piechnik. ?All other measures fail.? [HL11204]