In 2011 we opened our first family foster home in the western city of Mukacheve where 10 young people live with foster parents and receive not only the benefits of the independent living programme but also a loving Christ-filled family home. This element of the ministry is self-financing thanks to fostering grants from the local authorities and land for home-grown vegetables.
A credit to the local authorities is the way that they have embraced and supported this new development. As planned at the outset, the authorities are now financing the running of the family foster home. One of the young orphans who has moved to the house has benefitted from the independent living programme says:
This programme supports my life and this is where I met God. It gives me support in every sphere of my life – I look differently at myself now. I realise how little I know – I would never have survived on my own.
In June 2017 we were able to open the extension to the first house. Up to 8 older orphans will now have a home with even more independence before they embark on their new adult lives.
Meanwhile within the grounds of our “House of Light” in Kamianske in eastern Ukraine, we have provided funds that has allowed our partners, Children’s Hearts, to redevelop an old dilapidated out-building. This new building provides 3 modern bedrooms and a communal kitchen and dining room. A safe refuge for teenagers leaving state care who cannot find employment without accommodation, and cannot find accommodation without a job. This is a temporary fix until we can help find a permanent solution to their desperate need. Boys are selected to come out of the dormitory to live in, what after a very short space of time, they call “home”.
The alternative, out of sight in the state run orphanages, the dormitories are often breeding grounds for sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug use and general bad living. These state homes provide little in the way of organised activities, and for many they are little more than a degenerative prison.
Alex was born with a slight skull deformity and as a consequence his mother abandoned him. A life time in State care means he has little knowledge of how to live independently. He was the first of our residents and is so keen to set out on a new, now more positive life. The shelter will be a much-needed refuge in the meantime.
The teenagers who stay at the House of Light pay a small rent to live there as they start to learn responsible and independent living. There is large and growing number of young orphans desperate to be next in line to move to their new “home”.