Update from Bruce Elliott on the Children’s Work in Kiev, Ukraine from March Trip

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 annejelliott@gmail.com.

Bruce