Deutschland: Karla-Maria Schälike

These disabled, rejected, so-called ineducable children show us adults what we so often forget in our daily struggle: without love between people our lives would be cold and barren.

— Karla-Maria Schälike

When the Children’s Center "Nadjeschda" (hope) began to work with abandoned children in 1989, hardly anyone in Kyrgyzstan knew what future these children would face. In the village where the children were to be cared for, feelings of fear, hate, and aggression arose. It was difficult to find people to help. However, it eventually became possible to improve the health of these children and help them become part of society. The Kyrgyz public was made aware that these children are human beings who can be helped. A journalist dubbed the Children’s Center Nadjeschda "Island of Brotherly Love."

The founder of the Children's Center Nadjeschda, Karla Maria Schälike explains how it came to be: "When our son Gert-Michael died, I was overwhelmed by inner pain and despair. I cannot find the words to describe it. Then, I remembered a little disabled boy, who was born next to Gert-Michael. The doctors wanted to force the mother to sign a document to give up her child. Even worse is that many mothers give these newborn, disabled children into the hands of the state of their own accord. After I had found out where these rejected, disabled children were brought, it all went very quickly. At first, my husband and I began adopting babies who had been given away because they were ill. I was able to nurse them myself for a number of years. In our apartment, I began to take care of little groups of neglected or homeless children. I realized the deep pain and sense of loss these little beings were experiencing and applied repeatedly to the appropriate ministry for permission to open a children’s center. However, since I might “infect” the children because of my capitalistic background, my request was always refused. After Perestroika the previously capitalistic and dangerous Karla-Maria in the eyes of the Soviet authorities suddenly became a normal member of the Soviet Children’s Protection League. And finally, I was able to turn my hope into reality: I opened a center for children who were outcasts, who had no place in the hearts of people, no place in their families or schools. As I had so much hope for opening the hearts of people to these children, I named the Center “Nadjeschda” in Russian and “Ümüt” in Kyrgyz (hope). Today, this ray of hope shines over the snow-topped mountains of Kyrgyzstan and reflects back to us out of the hearts of many good people, even in far-off Europe. For this we are eternally grateful."

Children's Center Nadjeschda