For almost two years this mother lost her parental rights to her children. The Rescue Center team has really worked with her to help restore her rights. The family are now reunited. The mom has become a Christian and has a home group that meets in their apartment. The children are happy and being well cared for. As Vera, the Rescue Center Director wrote, “such outcomes make us joyful”.
From Vera, Director of the Ezra Rescue Center
“Thank you for sharing Christmas with the children from crisis families in Kiev. We organized a concert where the kids participated and invited crisis families from the surrounding two areas. Many of the children come to the center. There were 250 people. 130 gifts were given to the children.
We also went and gave gifts to crisis family children in another two areas.”
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!
THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE remains volatile. People are very unsettled. Though it looks like a truce is somewhat holding between the Russian backed rebels and Ukraine, it is feared that Putin will continue his invasion. The economy is collapsing and the people are fed up with political corruption. Life is very hard.
But despite all these difficulties, I saw more than ever the resourcefulness and tenacity of those who work with children.
FATHER’S HOUSE is now also a refuge for a large number of children, and some adults, who are refugees from the fighting in the east. Since summer 2014, they have taken in 175 people, 133 of who are children. The children were from children’s institutions, foster families, single mothers with children and children with their grandparents. Some have been housed in a facility Father’s House has three hours drive from Kiev. Others have found a permanent home in central Ukraine.
The Father’s House children are safe.
Two sets of family group parents have adopted the children under their care. Father’s House has managed to get each family an apartment near Father’s House. Both families have a total of 12 children and continue to be supported by Father’s House as before. This has meant more room being freed up for refugees.
I met the parents of a little boy, David, who was adopted from Father’s House at 3 and HIV positive. The mother had great faith that he would be healed. They had just returned from medical testing for David in Israel and the results included he is now HIV negative!
I went to a church service at Father’s House Roma has started for children and there were also some staff and village people present. Roma said he is not modeling it on anything else, but it is uniquely a church of children because he believes that they exhibit more faith in general than adults and he thinks great things can come of empowering children. It is truly the church of the orphan. Roma and the children took the service.
Our CHILDREN’S RESCUE CENTER continues to help children who would have no help without it. I went on three home visits with our staff and, as usual, conditions were appalling. There are so many homes in the 3 districts of Kiev we cover where children are in very bad situations and our staff are doing a wonderful job. They also respond to calls to go to children in crisis in other areas as best they can with their large workload.
We are hoping to have enough funds to once again put on a camp for these children in July for 10 days and in Ukraine they are working on a budget for this for us.
The AFTER SCHOOL CENTER is a happy, safe place children being helped by the Rescue Center can come. Between 20 and 30 children come each day to enjoy a range of activities, instead of hanging around on the street. They are given a meal and for some it is the only real food they get all day. Some children who don’t go to school come at 1pm for individual instruction and one of these is Masha who has a medical condition. She is 8 and was born with no bone in her forearm. She had an operation in Ukraine and has been told she will need to wear a plaster cast on it until she is 18. It is quite apparent they don’t know what they are doing medically and we would very much like to be able to get her help in the USA if it were possible.
The man who owns the building where the Center is held, is a Christian businessman and he provides housing for 60 refugees on the 3rd floor. One of the mothers I met lost both her husband and 2 year old son in the fighting in the east and she has shrapnel in her leg they are unable to remove all of. She is living there with her 4 other children and mother-in-law.
Anne and I will be in Ukraine the second half of May and we are going to take part in a day camp for these children, where they will go out and about for a week doing all sorts of activities and new experiences.
HELPING OLDER CHILDREN has always been our heart. Without help, children from institutions have very little chance of successfully transitioning to independence. Tolik, who worked with us for many years, has set up in a government shelter building a mini hostel for boys. They are all at technical college and have jobs. I was very impressed. The plan is to establish a girls group as well.
Pasha, who also worked with us at one time, has had a dream for years to help young men who have come out of government orphanages, prison and drug rehab. He has set up an apartment that is working successfully. The boys are expected to work and contribute to the rent and there is a man who lives with them who oversees the boys. We are hoping to be able to contribute to the monthly shortfall.
A huge thank you to everyone who helps us with this work. Be encouraged, you are making a difference! If you have any questions, please Email Anne at email@example.com.
After going to Maidan (Independence Square) in downtown Kiev, Ukraine in February where the big protests were held to remove the President and corrupt government, Bruce Elliott wrote:
“It is beyond anything I could possibly have expected. There are still barricades, row after row, so you have to get through them like layers to get to the city center. They start at the very top of the hill. As soon as you get through the first barricade you see all the paving stones are gone and it is just dirt. It is black and desolate like the war zone it was during the protests. There are burned out buildings all around. The smell is indescribable. A really burnt smell. As we went up the first street there was still lots of blood on the dirt, walls and steps. In a bank above a wall is a gravestone where a man buried his son and left the stone. You couldn’t help but weep at what you saw. Everybody is somber and respectful through the whole area. There are flowers and candles in countless piles all around. It is overwhelming and you have a real sense of the price that was paid.”