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Dima. Parenting at age 14.

Dima is 14 and the second eldest of six. His dad died when he was little. After that his mum met another man who brought domestic violence to their home. Now, thankfully, they are all safe; his four younger siblings live with their mum at the Women's Crisis Centre, with Dima and his older brother residing at the Men's Centre next door.

Dima has taken on the role of parenting his four younger siblings as mum has been emotionally detached since the abuse. This responsibility has built up resentment towards his mum and his older brother who is not interested in helping. At 14-year-old this is too much. School has taken a back seat, despite the fact he is capable and intelligent.

Dima attends the Open Hearts Youth Group. Dasha, who runs it, sees he is depressed and reserved, but mainly that he is thirsty for love. 25 vulnerable teens regularly attend Dasha's group. They discuss big questions about life and do activities that help them develop socially. Dasha also helps them with homework and takes them on outings. Many of the children come in-between group sessions too, preferring to be at the centre than at home.

Around his family, Dima has been forced into adulthood prematurely, but with the Open Hearts Youth Group he can be a child! Here there's respite from the demands placed on his young shoulders which is why this group is important to him and many others.

We're two years into helping Dasha establish this group, and the urgent need for it grows ever apparent. As word spreads, more children continue to come, placing ongoing demands on her time and resources. For this reason, we must maintain our commitment to this project.

For teenagers like Dima this means...

Someone to talk to during or outside of organised group times.

Advice and counselling from good role models.

Practical help like clothes and food for himself and his siblings.

A chance to be a child; play, have new experiences and be cared for.

If you'd like to support Dima and others like him, consider buying an OUTREACH EXTRAS ALTERNATIVE GIFT towards practical needs such as clothing and food.

Please get your orders to us by December 12th so we can make sure gift cards are received in time for Christmas Day!


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