UKRAINE CHILDREN’S WORK
In our recent trip to Ukraine, even though it looks peaceful in Kiev, we were very much aware of the uneasiness in this country. Soldiers are fighting in the east, conscription is in place, and Russia continues to be a very real threat. People are fleeing from towns and villages in the east and we met many refugees in Kiev. Their stories are traumatic as they tell of homes destroyed and loss of life. One lady told us how at the end of January in an attack on their town she lost her 20 year old daughter, husband of another daughter and 2 year old grandson. Eight adults and 18 children escaped in a van they found that had no doors or windows but still ran. Her grandchildren who lost their father and brother take part in the After School program we participated in this trip.
On top of all this, the economy is in a critical state. But despite all these uncertainties, the people we work with maintain their focus on helping children. To them it is a calling, not a job.
We are all immensely grateful to everyone who helps support this work!
FATHER’S HOUSE – a Christian children’s home I am on the board of and Ezra assists, has taken in many refugees. They are full to overflowing yet still keep up their wonderful level of care to children. Dr. Roma has started a church for children called “The Church of the Heavenly Father” where he leads but the children participate and it is pretty remarkable. As Roma says, “children often have more faith than adults”.
This summer, out of the great need, Father’s House has set themselves a big project. On an island just off Kiev in the Dnieper river they are holding camps for a total of 200 children – 4 groups of 50 children each coming for two weeks. Some of the children come from Father’s House, some from crisis families, refugee children and children whose fathers are soldiers fighting in the east and their mothers are working. A child psychologist will be at the camps to help children who have suffered trauma.
WOMEN IN PRISON WITH YOUNG CHILDREN UNIT – this visit we were presented with a certificate to thank Ezra for donating the funds that renovated the bathrooms in this unit of the prison and for purchasing a heart monitor.
We got to hold several of the children, from a few months to 3 years old, but we weren’t allowed to take photos.
Lena, who also works as a social worker in our Child Rescue unit, heads up this outreach. She has known hard times in her own life but has such a wonderful, happy personality she draws people to her. Lena helps with paperwork when children turning 3 are placed in government orphanages so that the mothers will be able to keep track of them. One could not imagine the trauma involved. There is, however, a recent new law that allows exceptions if the mother has only a year left for the child to stay till 4. Also there are now times the mother is released early when her child turns 3. Lena corresponds with the women between visits. When the mothers are released, she helps them reconnect with their children, gets them into a Christian rehabilitation center or linked with a Church if they would like the support, and helps them find work and somewhere to live. Along with us on this visit was a lady Lena is mentoring who had been twice in this prison but has been on a good path for a year.
CHILD RESCUE MOBILE UNIT – Because of the great number of calls regarding child abuse to the unit’s 24/7 help line, we have expanded from 3 to 6 Kiev districts. These are children who in many cases would get no help apart from that of our unit. The unit is fully backed by Police, which in itself is amazing. The team is made up of Christian professionals in social work and child psychology, headed up very ably by Vera whose degree in law is really needed for all the “red tape” that exists in Ukraine. The ultimate goal is to keep families together if possible. Where necessary, children in danger are removed, with the backing of Police, hopefully for a temporary time. To get their children back these parents need to go through rehabilitation from alcohol or drug abuse. In situations where children remain in the home, regular home visits are made to check on changes to create a clean, safe living situation for them. The starting condition is almost always deplorable.
AFTER SCHOOL CENTER – Vera’s sister, Aliona, oversees this program for children the Child Rescue Unit works with. Refugee children are also taking part. What really impacted us was the sense of family they have created. We watched the children run in hugging each other and the leaders and the laughter as they did activities together. Gone were the sad faces we see on home visits.
We were asked this visit to help teach English and do activities and crafts with the children. The English was a challenge with a full range of ages and zero to fairly minimal ability but we tried to show them speaking English is fun!
The children prepare dance and singing performances for their parents to watch. Out of this comfortableness at the Center, parents have been coming for help and attending the “Parenting without Abuse” classes.
This summer we are putting on another camp like we did the last two years by the river at the New Beginnings Ranch, four hours’ drive from Kiev. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children to be in fresh air, enjoying their childhood away from the stress of their home situations.
For any questions, please Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Financially times are very tight and challenging and so many children needing help. If you would like to help, donations can be sent to –
Ezra International, P.O. Box 120926, Clermont FL, 34712-0926
Harvest City Church, 7416 Victoria Drive, Vancouver B.C. V5P 3Z3
Or by Paypal through our website www.ukrainestreetchildren.com
All donations go 100% to the children’s work, with no overheads taken out!