For many children in Ukraine, life is not easy, especially compared to our North American standards. But for many orphans, life is especially unrelentingly hard. An estimated 100 000 children live in state-run orphanages, where neglect and abuse is common.
So one might think that for many teens, ‘aging out’ from the orphanage, which happens at age 16 for most, is a happy occasion. But in most cases, sadly, it is a case of going ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.
Life in an institution has left most orphanage graduates completely unprepared to manage the simple tasks of life, make responsible choices about relationships, who to trust, or how to use their time and money. No guidance and no accountability means no direction in life. Many orphanage graduates are left to fend completely for themselves in society. The statistics are grim. 10% -15% of orphans commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday. 60% of the girls end up in prostitution, and 70% of the boys end up in crime. What a tragedy!
In the past number of years, a number of Christian ministries in Ukraine have been moved to begin to address this terrible situation. They have begun operating ‘Transition Homes’ (also known as ‘Adaptation Centers’). These havens provide a safety net for orphanage graduates by providing them with a safe, Christian home environment where they can successfully transition from the orphanage into society. Promising and interested teens are identified while still in the orphanage and are invited to live at the Transition Home when they graduate. The homes which can be for boys or girls, generally can house 4 to 8 orphans.
These homes offer support in four key areas:
1. Spiritual Care and Mentoring
The homes are supervised at all times by a mentor or house parent(s). Having the right mentor is crucial. They need to be committed, mature Christians who can give good advice and counsel, and be firm when needed. Devotions and Bible study are held daily. At these small, family-style Christian group homes, young people learn to live with love, respect and dignity.
2. Life Skills Training
An important part of being here is spent learning life skills, such as conflict resolution, teamwork, negotiating, accountability, responsibility, money management, filling out applications and paperwork, shopping etc. The teens, who receive some government assistance, are expected to help out paying the bills for the home.
3. Career Development
Teens develop career and job skills by attending college, taking apprenticeships or joining the workforce.
4. Church and Community Support
Church attendance is part of living in these homes. The teens join in with church life, and inevitably they will make friends and connections there, and this becomes their social safety net.
These teens are truly given a new lease on life through this program, and by God’s grace, some have been brought to a new life in Christ!
Can we count on your support? Your sponsorship of a Transition Home will make a life-changing difference in the lives of teens in Ukraine! You will receive an annual update about the home you are sponsoring.