Tens of thousands of children throughout Ukraine are abandoned to orphanages. Parents give up their children for many different reasons, including poverty, incarceration, and problems with alcoholism.
The vast majority of children living in orphanages have some sort of special need or disability. Most children living in the care of the state are “social orphans” meaning they have one or more living parents. They lead lives lacking in love and support and are all too often subject to abuse and violence. Many leave care with only a fragmentary education and most are only functionally literate or numerate. In addition, they need to be taught how to handle and manage money, how to buy and cook food and how to begin and maintain happy, healthy relationships safely.
The young people are emotionally, spiritually and socially traumatized having had years of institutional care and/or abuse at home. Our partners at New Beginning help strengthen self-image and actively encourages social integration. Whilst only 10% of orphans nationally who leave state institutions enter society in a fulfilling and developing way (source: the representative for children’s right by the President of Ukraine), all those who have been helped by our partners are now living much more integrated lives.
New Beginning is based in the western city of Mukacheve. It has transformed the lives of many young people leaving institutional care. ALL of the New Beginning “graduates” go on to lead fully independent lives including employment, accommodation and starting their own families. Children’s Hearts in Kamianske estimate that just 1% of orphan graduates in that city will secure employment. Others will join the army. Most disappear.
Ibolya’s mother was just 14 when she gave birth. Unable to cope she fled the hospital, so all Ibolya has ever known is a life lived in a state institution. Having entered the local Technical School she was fortunate to be able to join the New Beginning programme. She has learnt both how to care, and to be cared for, and is being prepared for her independent adult life. She says:
“I feel I am being loved and accepted here and being taught life skills to be accepted. It means so much to me.
I can speak properly now – I am not aggressive, I don’t swear and can use better words. I can eat properly as well and not like an animal. I also love reading books now.”
Our programmes offer teenage orphans in Technical Schools hope and opportunity. They enter a 2-3 year life-changing programme which involves:
The consequences are that they are prevented from encountering the problems so often confronted on leaving care; they are equipped to be responsible, confident and active members of society; assisted in securing a quality education and job-related skills; and above all, they are encouraged (but not forced) to give back to others in need and to become secure in the love of Christ.