One of the things I’ll be doing while I’m in Ukraine is volunteering in an orphanage. Right now, I’m the most excited about this part of the trip. First of all, I just love loving on kids. I always have, and I probably always will. Second, Eastern Europe, in general, has a serious orphan problem. You don’t hear about it (or at least now you don’t) nearly as much as you hear about orphans in other places because of the nature of the method these kids become orphans. Most of the kids in orphanages are not true orphans. Usually, they have been abandoned. In Ukraine, only 10% of the kids in orphanages are actually true orphans. The other 90% were abandoned. There are several reasons kids get abandoned: economic hardship, parental substance abuse, or the child has some sort of disability.
I have the video I promised earlier of the other episode of American Missionary that takes place in Ukraine. For those of you who know Caleb and Ashley, you’ll want to definitely watch this episode because you’ll hear Ashley’s voice at one point (between minutes 13 and 14). There’s a guy at around 18:45 or so who might be Caleb? The lighting makes it hard to tell. This video will give you a glimpse at the life of an abandoned Ukrainian child who lives on the streets in Krivoy Rog. Also, be sure to read what I have after the video.
The emotional hardships of being abandoned, living on the streets or in an overcrowded, understaffed children’s home, and abuse, which many experience, are hard enough as it is. However, it doesn’t end there. When these kids turn 16-18, they are kicked out of the state run homes. With no skills, social support, or access to any services, these kids have few options. Many of the boys turn to a life of crime. I heard anecdotally if a man from Krivoy Rog goes to another part of Ukraine and people find out where he is from, he would be automatically arrested, because it would be assumed that he was doing something illegal (ie selling drugs). The girls often turn to prostitution and are at risk at being trafficked.
If you haven’t done an image search for Krivoy Rog, do it now. I recommend having “Safe Search” turned on if it isn’t already. Below is a picture of what came up when I did an image search in Google.
Click on the image to see a larger version. Notice anything? It’s pictures of girls. It breaks my heart just thinking about where these girls probably came from and what their life must be like. I mean, what does it say about a place when you search for it and get pictures of women instead of pictures of that place?
It’s been several years since the footage for the American Missionary episode was taken. I’m really excited to see how the work the Churches of Praise were doing then has impacted the community since. I will be excited to make a positive report about both the ministry and the city itself.