When I entered Tech School 18 in Kostroma I didn’t have a place to live. I was living at the Ministry Center for 4 months. I didn’t know what would happen next, where I would be living. God didn’t forsake me, He gave me hope and He sent a special person to me to pay for the flat which I share with another girl. I am very happy that I have a place that I can call my home. May God give the people who help us health! May their children love them and bring joy to them! Last year I gave my painting to the MC as a present for a New Year’s gift. I want these people to know how much they’ve done for me. I want all the rest to remember that my real independent life started here, in Kostroma, at the Ministry Center.
- Valya, Ministry Center participant
By age 16, most children are forced to leave the orphanage. The vast majority struggle to adapt and survive as adults. Scared, confused, and alone, it is no wonder that these impressionable children have difficulty making the transition. In the past, these children had nowhere to go for help, and often ended up on the streets, in poverty, or dead. Today, they are seeking help—and a second chance—from our Ministry Centers.
Download the first chapter of RED LETTERS to read a first-hand account from Tom about how older orphans are helped by the HopeChest Ministry Centers. (PDF download)
The Children’s HopeChest Ministry Center is a multi-faceted, community outreach to orphans. Children’s HopeChest operates four Ministry Centers in Russia (Vladimir, Kostroma, Ryazan, and Ivanovo regions) that provide older orphans with a sense of “family” and the critical resources they will need after they leave the orphanage. Staffed with trained nationals, the Ministry Center is a place to receive support, encouragement, counseling, medical care, and spiritual development.
The activities and programs at our Ministry Centers currently assist orphans by:
The Ministry Center gives kids a strong feeling of safety, protection, and home. In fact, one young man told us: “I feel like I belong to a large family now!” That was Marina’s story…
As a child, Marina lived with her family in a small apartment located in the city of Ivanovo. She was a good student—the top of her class—until one day everything changed forever.
It started when Marina’s mother lost her job, and the family did not have enough money for food and living expenses. Her parents started selling their furniture and other belongings so they could eat. Soon, both her mother and father started drinking heavily. It became so bad that one day her parents agreed to trade their television set for four bottles of vodka. But instead, they only received one bottle.
Marina’s father was enraged. In his fury he began yelling at Marina’s mother, and beating her incessantly. As a 12-year-old girl, little Marina watched her father beat her mother to death—right in front of her and her brother.
With her mother dead and her father in jail, Marina was brought to a local orphanage. She did not smile or talk, and refused to see anyone. For the next five years, Marina lived in the orphanage, wondering what had happened to her once happy family.
The HopeChest staff in Russia helped put Marina in an apartment with another girl from her orphanage.
Ministry Centers are for Marina, and the thousands of other girls just like her. If you talk to any of the children we work with, they will tell you a similar story of family heartbreak.
Older orphans are free to come to the Ministry Center at any time to play ping-pong or pool, to lift weights or to do laundry or surf the Internet. Yet the activity surrounding the Ministry Centers often hides deeper problems.
For example, in Vladimir, we are working with a young man who has lost all of his identification papers and does not know which government offices he needs to go to. And if he did, he would not know how to fill out the forms, get the appropriate approvals, or pay for this service.
In Kostroma, our Ministry Center staff is helping several young mothers. Lena Gavrilova came to the Ministry Center with a six-month-old baby in her arms. A case worker in the Young Mothers program teaches her how to care for the baby, apply for a job, and address the deep spiritual and emotional issues Lena is going through. Thanks to the Ministry Center, Lena receives the necessary clothes and medications for her son, Kiril.
Many orphans like Lena come to our Ministry Centers for food, money, shelter, or some other practical assistance. They find a professional staff who will meet their physical needs, and through relationship, address their deeper spiritual concerns.
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