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“Working as a self-advocate is an opportunity to change something”

Children belong in families,
not orphanages
Lumos voices

“Working as a self-advocate is an opportunity to change something”

An interview with Verča, a Lumos-supported self-advocate from the Czech Republic.

Why did you decide to work with Lumos?

It all started when we brought my sister from the institution she had been living in to be fostered by my family, and then we both joined in the activities of the NGO Amalthea, who support foster families. I met many children with similar life stories to my sister. I was sad about their stories, when they talked about their lives without parents. And then the offer from Lumos came, so I decided to join. I thought it was a good idea to help others by sharing our stories.

How was the beginning of working with Lumos?

I knew many young people already from Amalthea, and some of them were new. At the beginning, I did not take it so seriously. I joined because of my friends. When I participated in a conference for the first time, I was surprised and it became more serious - I did not expect I would be able to manage speaking on the public.

What is the most interesting about working with Lumos?

When I was a child, I was always dreaming about happy children in families. So working with Lumos is an opportunity to change something. I am still waiting, sometimes it takes too long, but that is the reason I stay. I would like to be a part of the new Youth advisory board. It is exciting for me, and I would probably participate in the recruitment process of the new group.

What is your main involvement with Lumos?

I see my role as a young spokesperson who can have her own say from a young person‘s perspective. I think I can speak up for other children to raise awareness about problems they have and challenges they face.

What would you like to change the most in the Czech Republic?

I would like to spread the message to adults, young people and children that it is better for children to live with families rather than in institutions. I think that people do not know enough about children with disabilities and about children in institutions. I think people do not consider this issue as seriosuly as we do.

What have you learned/ what are the changes in your life while working with Lumos?

I feel I am now able to speak in front of an audience. I am getting better at my self-expression. I am able to express my views and opinions. I have learnt about the care system in other countries and met new young people.

Young spokesperson Verča lives in the Czech Republic with her parents and foster sister Vendy.