Lucia Kossarova is the co-founder of the Slovakian program BUDDY. With this community based approach children who live in orphanages are able to build up a loving and strong relationship with a reliable and mature volunteer mentor. The program was founded in 2006. Currently, 77 BUDDY pairs of children and mentors are supported in 14 children’s homes.
There are 5,000 children in approximately 100 children’s homes (institutional care) in Slovakia. Due to poverty, unemployment, ill health, abuse, and neglect, the families cannot meet the needs of children who are then transferred to institutional care.
BUDDY finds, trains, matches and continuously supports caring mentors for these vulnerable children (age 12 +). This one-to-one long-term mentoring relationship helps children overcome their traumas and acquire essential skills for a successful integration into society. The mentor is independent, prioritizes the interests of the child and becomes the ‘voice of the child’. The mentor is an unpaid volunteer, which is vital in a context where all other people involved with the child are paid.
Lucia Kossarova receives one of ten 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Awards for social innovation and engagement. With the award money of CHF 100,000 Lucia Kossarova plans to invest mainly towards improving the monitoring and evaluation system, and prepare the program for growth.
“I strongly believe that every child should get equal opportunity in life.”
The BUDDY program is based on the so called attachment theory and the essential role of a primary care giver. It provides the opportunity for selective long-term attachment to one caring, loving adult which helps the child overcome psychological, social, and emotional challenges. BUDDY intends to create bottom up pressure on policy change in Slovakia so that all children can grow up in foster care families and not in institutions.
In 2018, the Jacobs Foundation bestows 10 awards to social innovators and change makers in the field of child and youth development. Each award will come with an amount of CHF 100’000. The recipients provide solutions for positive child and youth development at low cost, which are sustainable and can be easily implemented on the spot. What the ten awardees have in common is their wish for social change and their restless personal social engagement. They are beyond talking – they act.