The Eva Ahlström Foundation’s Support for UNICEF Child Protection Project Will Benefit Tens of Thousands of Children in India

Family members of the Ahlström family living outside Finland will invest nearly  € 400,000 over the next three years in UNICEF Child Protection project in West Bengal, India via Eva Ahlström Foundation International. The aim is to develop child protection services in the area and strengthen the skills of local child welfare workers.

The Child protection project in West Bengal will improve the conditions and services of orphanages and childcare institutions, establish shelters and support foster family arrangements so that as many children as possible could grow and develop in a home-based environment rather than institutional settings.

The project will affect the lives of thousands of children living in institutions and benefit up to tens of thousands of Indian children.

The goal is to ensure that by the end of the project, in 2022, the state of West Bengal will have improved the quality and availability of preventive services for children at risk of being abandoned or otherwise separated from their families.

Foundation has been supporting UNICEF since 2011

“By investing in child protection, we are helping children get out of poverty and protect them from exploitation and abuse. I am delighted that the long-term work of UNICEF and the cooperation with the local authorities will allow the benefits of the project to be scaled up to such a large number of children in Kolkata city and the rest of West Bengal,” says Anne Canepa, chairman of the Eva Ahlström Foundation International’s steering committee, the subgroup formed by the Ahlström family members living outside Finland.

“Creating something new from existing family values and heritage is a powerful thing. We genuinely feel that we as a family can make a difference and see child protection as fundamental and essential work that must be done right for there to be stable societies in the future. Our experience is that UNICEF is the organisation that can get this done effectively,” says Maria Bondestam, Chairman of the Eva Ahlström Foundation.

The Eva Ahlström Foundation has, through its partnership with UNICEF Finland, supported UNICEF’s work for children around the world since 2011. Currently, the foundation supports child protection program in Zambia. In addition, the foundation is part of a five-family BF&HAPPY project the aim of which is to reduce maternal and child mortality in Rwanda.

In India, 20 million children are orphaned or abandoned by their parents

There are currently about 20 million orphans in India, of which only less than 1 % have lost both parents. Most have been abandoned by their parents, lost or rescued from extremely difficult situations, such as human trafficking, exploitation or crime. The fate of these children is the result of extreme poverty, substance abuse, maltreatment and health problems. They have little opportunity to grow and develop to their full potential.

Photo: Boys in West Bengal August 2019. UNICEF helps boys meet in groups to discuss their personal issues as well as mixed groups where they are taught to understand social and emotional changes, as well as how to deal with them.

Photo credit: ©UNICEF UNI213183 Narain 2019

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