We train families with orphans: foster families, families of origin and extended families. About 90% of orphans have a parent somewhere. Our hope is to get kids back into healthy families. When COVID came to Ukraine, the government sent about half the children home... about 50,000 kids across Ukraine. We are visiting families in the Odessa region.
We travel with The Heritage Foundation, a Ukrainian charity, in the region of Odessa. Heritage brings food and clothes and does small repairs. We bring medicine and talk with parents about their relationships with children.
From the reports of Alla Soroka, our Project Manager I learned the following:
The boy above in the sweater with the American flag goes to college; his sister goes every day to the orphange, but returns each night to sleep at home. Their mother works. As there is no official work in the village, poor people often work for someone for money. Mom is sick, but her son helps her.
This woman in a black sweater with two children actually has seven children. They live poorly, but she has a garden, chickens, ducks. Repairs are needed inside the house, especially, the ceiling. Her children go to the orphanage during the day to receive meals, textbooks, notebooks, and briefcases. But they spend the night at home. The Heritage Foundation has plans to repair the ceiling.
Grandma at the gate asked for clothes for two grandchildren who are 1.5 and 2.5 years old. She has a weak heart. Her daughter lives with her (who also has two other children). There are 6 of them in total. Heritage will bring clothes.
Here is a mother in a pink sweater, a son and a daughter. They did not ask for help. The mother works with other people; she has a allowance, a garden and pets. Her mother helps her. They are poor, but she said that they can handle their own needs. The children go to the orphanage each day for school and meals, but spend the night at home.
In this photo, our Project Manager, Alla Soroka, in jeans and maroon jacket, stands with her back to the camera. This is a family of gypsies. The parents do not work. They have five children, they do not have a garden or beds. The children sleep on mattresses on the floor. They live on money that the state pays for the maintenance of children. The orphanages which pay for food are very beneficial for such families.
Above is a father and daughter. In the family, there is also a mother and three more children. They work, but both parents are not very healthy. The father is gypsy. He is a legal husband and a caring father. They asked for wooden planks in order to make normal beds for their children. They also do not have their own well, and they are forced to bring water, and this is difficult for them. They need a well. But this is very expensive. It costs 30,000 hryvnias (1,100 dollars)
As we get to know these families, we learn how to help. Other agencies help with the basics of food and shelter, our focus is on the parent-child relationships. These are vulnerable youth and children. Their development is dependent upon healthy family dynamics. In places of poverty, this work is all the more important.
Below, is a common scene in rural Ukraine: a difficult life under a beautiful sky.
grace and peace,