(I have not entered pictures of our children to protect their identities at this fragile time in their lives.)
For the past year and then some, when I go to Marganets, I visit the children at the transition home. These children are in a very difficult spot in their young lives. Most have been taken from their home because of a very poor environment. Whether it is because of parents who are alcoholic or drug users or the children are beat or just not cared for, the results leave the children in a new situation that is very challenging. I have met one or two whose parents died, leaving them as orphans.
The home is run with a very strict schedule, keeping the children busy to avoid time for them to dwell on their problems. This particular home is run by a Christian director. She sees the great need for the children to have more time to adjust to their loss of family. Their program focuses on helping the children modify their lives and build healthy character. Although she is asking the government to give her more time with the children, it seems that ninety day is all that they will allow. Their twenty-six beds stay filled throughout the year.
The director’s big venture last year was to find families to adopt the children before they would be placed in an orphanage. In the first six months of 2008, she was able to place 10 children in local Christian homes. She has contact with the different churches in Marganets and they work together to help the children while in the transition home and to find good families for them. Adoption for Ukrainian families is very inexpensive, so I hear, and they are working on implementing the foster care program. Of course, the challenge in this city of poverty is to find honest foster parents. The money is so needed; it lures many of the wrong parent types.
When I visit with the children, we talk about little things, but they are very hungry for attention. They are very hungry to show their value. They want to know about America. They have very interesting questions. When we have an opportunity for Bible study, I’m always surprised to hear how much they know. I try to take seashells each time that I go. The children are very interested in seeing these homes of sea creatures. Some have been to the sea, but most have not.
When I look at these children, it breaks my heart to know why they are at the transition home. I know their future if they are not placed in a good home within ninety days. I have interacted with children at the local orphanage for six plus years. Even with the best orphanage environment, it is not a good place for a child. A family of over one hundred children is not the kind of family that is needed. There are so many children in need of help in this country; helping the 400 or so that we help is just a small effort for the big problem for the more than 100,000 Ukrainian children in poverty.