VILLAGE OUTREACH

Many villages in Ukraine are full of families barely making it. Often times, the kids in village homes are worse off than kids in the orphanage. Abuse, hunger, neglect, and alcoholism often run rampant in these homes. We are so thankful to be able to partner with our local church to support in a few different villages in the Sumy region – Korshachin, Krasnopolye, and as of summer 2016, Ivanivka. A team of Ukrainians make bi-weekly trips to Korshachin, holding Bible studies, bringing crafts and games for kids, and supporting the families in Korshachin. They also run a summer camp as well as special holiday and day programs through the year there and in Krasnopolye. There has been a great response of acceptance to their love and help over the years.

In 2015 our team purchased a house in the village of Ivanivka and this summer we began building relationships with the families there. Our house has needed and still needs a lot of work so much of our time is be spent working on our house – constructing some sort of kitchen, bathroom, shower, and other necessities we are currently lacking. We get to host movie nights, games, and other small events for the kids while in the midst of adjusting from having lived in city-apartments to 100-year-old houses without a lot of the normal conveniences we’re used to. We have always dreamed of planting a church in Ivanivka and are thankful that our house provides a place to begin this with a few small house church meetings there.

ORPHANAGE MINISTRY

90% of orphans in Ukraine are considered “social orphans”, meaning one or both of their parents are still alive. These kids have been placed in the system often after seeing a lot of alcoholism, abuse, severe neglect, one or both parents in prison, and usually some combination of all of the above. Orphanages in Ukraine are run by the government, and the kids eat, sleep, play, and go to school there.

The Pravdinska Orphanage, where OAU does the majority of our Orphanage Ministry, currently houses around 100 kids between the ages of 6-17. We sometimes helps with projects at the orphanage throughout the year – painting the playground, helping buy tiles to fix a bathroom, buying seeds to plant on their farm, etc. But our favorite part of Orphanage Ministry is hanging out with the kids. We seek to begin building relationships with the kids when they’re young, with the hope that they will carry through into their young adult lives after they leave the orphanage. We play games, run summer camps and programs throughout the year, celebrate birthdays, attend their school performances, and just get to be a friend. By building up love and trust, we’re able to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way in their lives.

POST-ORPHANAGE GRADUATE MINISTRY

At their 9th grade graduation, most orphans are between 15 and 17 years old, though sometimes as young as 14. After their graduation, they leave the orphanage and usually attend a trade school and are essentially forced into adulthood and independence. As a young teen with very little experience in the world, they are very unprepared for life on their own. Alcoholism and skipping school quickly become their norm; gangs and crime are a huge issue for the boys; abusive relationships and even prostitution for the girls. They struggle with proper hygiene, personal health, cooking, money management, healthy relationships, and finding a place to live.

This is where OAU seeks to meet these “grads” in their various needs with temporary housing, food, healthcare, and encouragement. Working with a local Christian church, there are weekly youth group meetings we encourage the kids to attend and get to know others their age. We host “Grad Camps” throughout the year, giving them a time to get away, be safe, eat 3 meals a day, hear lessons on God’s grace and love, and just be teenagers. All in a place where they continue to hear the gospel and see it in action through our team. We continue building relationship and give the kids a family and place to belong. Our goal is to help them grow into healthy, independent adults, physically and emotionally, while growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Want to get involved by coming to serve at one of our Graduate Retreats?
Email Melissa Keane at MelissaOAU@gmail.com for an application.

FAMILY SUPPORT

All too often, we have seen kids grow up in the orphanage, graduate and have kids of their own who end up in the same situation they did – back in the orphanage. Our family support and outreach seeks to stop the cycle by helping young families grow and stay afloat. Through financial support and training, parenting skills, babysitting, and more, we encourage young single moms and families that they can give their kids a different life than they knew. Buying diapers and groceries, holding a job, and raising a baby is very overwhelming for an 18-year-old who has never seen an example of good parenting. We seek to help support them as they face the good and the bad of parenthood, while helping ensure that their kids receive the love and care that they often lacked as they grew up.