This profile was prepared when Vera Bechynova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Vera’s work with social centers for children at risk led her to the firm belief that young parents can take care of their children, despite the heavy stigma of poverty. She discovered that children are often taken away from young parents simply because they are presumed incompetent due to age. Her experience, however, suggests that the orphan life is detrimental to child development and that young parents are fully capable of supporting a family when given the proper assistance. Her main objective is to ensure that parents and children at risk are given the opportunity to carry on within the family structure. Her work enables troubled families to meet their children's needs, and even collaborate with state agencies, rather than battling the government and orphanage system just to keep them.