Matthew McVarish, Road to Change 11.02.2014

..."Then finally, after this busy busy week, I set off for Vilnius, Lithuania, but after recording a wee video in the centre of Riga’s old town and I started walking I made one final stop at ‘Centrs Dardedze’. Their centre does many things to address and prevent child maltreatment. They have specialised interview rooms where children’s statements can be recorded with police watching on a screen in the next room. They have those anatomically correct dolls so children can show what body parts were used in the abuse (Ingenious but still the most depressing toys every conceived) and they have established the most wonderful adventure journey that small children are taken on, to learn how to keep themselves safe in the real world. Their centre seems to have been very carefully developed and has been appropriately invested in financially to create such a wonderfully comprehensive service. Coincidently, they too were hosting a training day so I was able to speak to staff from across Latvia in one room. They asked many questions, to which my answers were translated back into Latvian. When asked, ‘what is the hardest thing about the walk?’ I gave the comedy answer ‘wild dogs’ and showed them the two bottles of pepperspray that live in my pockets. ( As I waved goodbye to them, and Riga, I had their question stuck in my mind. What is the hardest thing about the Road to Change? After a few miles, I figured the true answer is this: ‘I walk through the some of the most beautiful cities and meet some of the kindest people in the world but all I find is the same deep sadness everywhere I go’ ... From

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