Like many places in America, rural Ukraine is a different world.
There is no city water. If you don't have a well, you get your water, by car, motor scooter, or on foot. For single parent families, it's tough. We work with Christian aid agencies that bring food, medicine, and new clothes, but life is difficult.
So we have expanded our program to help the families you see, above and below, those most at risk of losing kids to an orphanage, the poor living in rural areas. I use the phrase "at risk," because the temptation is always there for a single parent to go to the orphanage and say, "Will you take my children?
Sometimes we help with basic needs. We've dug a few wells. At the same time we help with creative parenting. Simple ideas, techniques, new ways of looking at how to relate to your children, can make an enormous difference in the emotional health of a child, the energy level of a parent and the dynamics of family life.
(Look closely, and you will see Alla Soroka in the mirror behind.)
Most of you know that approximately 120,000 Russian soldiers with equipment gathered in the past month at the Ukrainian border. Some units have pulled back, but estimates are that 80,000 remain. I have plans to travel to the region in July. I'll be flying to Ukraine June 20th.
Ukraine is decentralizing. This means responsibility for the care of children in orphanages and placement of children in foster families has been passed to local authorities. Money hasn't always followed. And local leadership has changed. We are trying to establish relationships now with new directors of social service agencies. We still provide the training, but without government funds to pay to foster families, trainings are not being scheduled. In the middle of this chaos, our decision to work with marginalized families has come at the right time.
I'll have more to say about life at the border with Russia and life in rural Ukraine in my next newsletter in early July.
grace and peace,