Not everyone is lucky enough to grow up in his/her original family. Every year up to 500 children leave maternity hospitals without their biological mother. They come to foster parents, adoptive parents or to infant institutions only with a dimissory report from a maternity hospital. However, in the report they will not find out the circumstances of their birth, how they looked like, or who was cradling them instead of their mum.
The head nurse of the Teaching Hospital Královské Vinohrady Michaela Chmelařová got an idea to preserve the first memories for these children. Martin Opava together with Iva Říhová from the Foundation La Vida Loca realised her idea in the project “Život v Kufříku” (“Life in a Suitcase”). Since 2015 maternity hospitals from the whole country have been gradually joining the project, and together with hospital stuff they fill the suitcases for children with a birth bracelet, photos, a first baby´s dummy, a small baby suit or a toy crocheted by one of the volunteers and a bunch of personal messages and notes.
Hardly anybody can imagine how difficult it is for the adolescent children to cope with the fact that their mother abandoned them right after their birth. They feel unwanted. They know nothing about the beginning of their life. They can´t compare their appearance with the features of their own children at birth. They can´t experience the feeling of family solidarity. “Život v kufříku” ensures that they know they were loved, affectionately cradled in arms of nurses, coaxed by doctors, and that grandmas from senior homes thought about them and created handmade toys for them. The suitcase carries a clear message:
“You are important to us so much that we have prepared all this for you!”
This world-unique project is constantly growing and improves the content of suitcases and its programmes. There are active children psychologists, hospital stuff, foster parents and adoptive families – all of them help to preserve the precious memories.
“Život v kufříku” symbolises connections, relationships, communication, life stories and anchors for self-acceptance and identity of each of us. The project is primarily aimed at the most vulnerable ones – the new-borns who were abandoned by their biological parents. Nevertheless, that´s not the end of this project but it´s beginning… It supports children´s search for their identity, parental relationship with the child, and also the important role of grandmas and grandpas, who have a special gift for sharing memories.
who right at the beginning of their life ended up lonely and without their own identity
starting suitcase with first life memories
who are still working on their personality and identity
preventive programmes at schools
a suitcase for personal treasures and memories
who significantly influence personality and identity of children
a suitcase for family memories that unite everyone
GRANDMAS AND GRANDPAS
who have a gift of sharing and remembering
a suitcase for amulets, memories for grandchildren
activities for seniors