Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Visiting Ukraine - part 1
We were given a tour of an orphanage near the city of Zap. An orphanage administrator took us around the building to see where the kids sleep and where they go to school.
They took us to see the little kids (I'm guessing ages 3 - 5) who were playing together in a small room.
One little girl (pictured right) caught my eye. I tried to get her name, but every time I asked she would bring me a toy car with missing wheels to play with.
I wanted to play with her, but before I knew it the orphanage administrator was hurrying us along to see another part of the building.
She took us through the bedrooms where we saw 15-20 beds crammed together.
The older kids are a little more spread out, with an average of 6 staying in one room.
As we were walking through the halls of that building, being stared at by teenage kids with hard faces, I tried not to think about what we were seeing. I tried not to think about what it would be like for my little friend as she grew up, day in and day out, in a place like this.
But when you are staring reality in the face, it is hard not to think about it.
It was hard to leave. When you see kids, interact with them, hug them, they become more than a picture or an idea. It is one thing to hear about kids in an orphanage, it is another thing to see them face to face. It is heartbreaking.
But, there is hope. God is using volunteers and the staff of Lifesong for Orphans to reach these kids. They can't change their living conditions, but they can love on them and teach them about Jesus. They can mentor them and pray for them.
And they are making a difference. I saw that more on this trip than ever before.
Visiting the orphanage near Zap (where Lifesong has been involved for a little over one year) and then visiting Loubetein (where Lifesong has been for over 6 years) I could see a difference in the kids and how they interacted with us and each other.
In case you are curious, here is how Lifesong is making a difference. The goal of Lifesong in Ukraine is to bring CCP (constant Christian presence) into the orphanages who are willing to work with them. The CCP work at the orphanages on a daily basis, teaching classes, hosting after-school activities, running camps in the summer, and basically just being there. They also raise money to help renovate and improve the orphanages. A few projects include playgrounds, computer labs and refurbished gym floors.
If you want to hear more or watch a few short videos about this program, go here.
The second part of Lifesong's work in Ukraine are the transition homes, but that will be a blog post for another day!