I received an email a few days ago from my friend David Padgett that I’d like to share with you. He’s been working with Christians in the former Soviet Union for several years. He writes:
As you probably know, in the former Soviet Republics, orphans are kept in the orphanage until they are 16 and then sent on their own to Technical School, where they might learn something, but most likely it will be how to sell their body or sell drugs to others etc.
Here are some statistics gathered by “Orphans Hope” on kids who are sent to face the world without the life skills to do so:
- About 10% of these children commit suicide before their eighteenth birthday
- 60% of the girls end up in prostitution
- 70% of the boys in crime
In Kazakstan, we have had some success with a transition home called the Light House, and we want to imitate that work with the small church in Simferopol, in the Crimean region of Ukraine, but that church (about 50 members) does not have the funding to rent or buy a house big enough for the kids. The preacher and his wife, after long consideration have agreed to take in the children they have worked with every week for 6 years, but they cannot do so in their current two bedroom apartment.
We are out of luck, we don’t have nearly the knowledge or resources to help them, but we really just have to help.
We have long wanted to build a transition home for 16 year old orphans who are turned out on their own because it is the only known method for getting jobs and long term Christian lives for orphan kids who are not adopted, but now we have to do something smaller more quickly.
Five of the children from the village orphanage who are especially close to Eugene and Helen Strakhov (the preacher and his wife in Simferopol), will be shipped to different cities at the government’s discretion in May, 2008, because the village orphanage near Simferopol is being shut down (due to the expense of repairing some dilapidated buildings (the roof collapsed in one bldg)!
Eugene and Helen have volunteered to house the five orphans (Sasha, Marina, Peter, another Peter, and Oksana), but their apartment is way too small. We have thought about buying a 5-6 bedroom house for their daughter, the male and female orphans and a church office etc., but it would cost $70-100k and time is very short. So the best plan we’ve heard is to rent a place with a lease for one year for a cost of about $12k. We could then use that year to evaluate the work and look at longer term options.
Eugene and Helen have worked with them and brought them to church for more than five years. Two of them, Sasha and Marina, have become Christians, the others are especially close to Eugene and Helen and seem likely to do well. We are trying to fit in one more named Julia by the way and have started showing 6 kids on our slide shows.
So, we cannot find it in our hearts to send the kids that we know, and have invested so much in away to so many dangers, especially the two Christians.
We don’t know what to do, but must do something, so here we are on your doorstep as it were. We have already talked to as many people as we could find from church organizations closer to us and their money is locked into other programs so we have only raised $2,500.00/$12,000.00 so far. (UPDATE: They’ve got verbal commitments for $3,950 now)
Here are some important details:
Three of the kids are 16 and would be sent out on their own in June anyway, but that is good in a way because they are easier for us to move in with Eugene and Helen. The other three are under 16 and so Eugene and Helen would have to be granted Foster Parent status by the government to keep them. We know that some families in Donetsk have gotten foster parent status while renting their homes, but it might be a sticking point if someone in the government is looking to cause us trouble.
Even once we gain the rental property and get Eugene and Helen moved in, they cannot be sure that they’ll get permission to keep the two younger children. The church there is well respected on many occasions, but the government is very fluid and unpredictable. So while it is very likely that we can get the older kids we cannot guarantee getting the three younger kids until it happens.
Once we get all those obstacles out of the way, even then there is no guarantee that we’d be able to watch those kids be converted or remain faithful all through there tough teenage years, but as you know from the success of the Lighthouse in Kazakhstan and others in Ukraine it is the only way we know of for non-adopted kids to possibly have a shot at a stable life, getting a job and maybe even one day a successful family.
If we see even one kid make it, the good done in reversing the shortfalls, and the cycles of unstable families that produce more unstable families does not sound like something that could ever be unnoticed. Would it not justify all the work done everywhere just within itself? If on the other hand the church in Simferopol, which was founded to reach out to orphans, is not able to find a way to reach out to these kids when they really need it, it will be a discouragement that is hard to overcome.
The church there has about 50 people, but only one family has a car, the preacher and his wife, which they use to take many other families to the market to sell vegetables they have grown. Some of the families have homes and have adopted children and taken in others as foster children, which is the best solution, and we search to find more qualified families all the time, but they are all booked up. The church will spend its time and available funds to support this, but it won’t be enough financially. However, we have a loving family who has worked with these kids almost every day for more than 5 years volunteering to care for them.
Okay, here’s where you can come in. David says the two biggest needs they have are prayer (obviously) and money. If you’ll go here and send Faith 2.0 your money (and I know you have some extra — the IRS is sending you a big check in a few weeks), we could literally change the world for these six orphans.