Our passionate staff in Russia are absolutely integral to our success in the three regions that we serve. Each of our Ministry Centers are made up of staff members who are committed to embracing orphan graduates and vulnerable individuals. The Ministry Center staff make a “home” for these children, surrounding them with safety, strength, and love. Many of the orphan graduates have been stigmatized due to the alarming statistics of how many orphans ultimately turn to drugs and crime during their most vulnerable moments.
The relational aspect of our model at Children’s HopeChest is impactful here, where youth learn that they are valuable and have purpose. As they begin to imagine a future for themselves, Ministry Center staff provide valuable resources for them to achieve their hopes and dreams.
We interviewed Yana A., who is the Sponsorship and Leadership Programs Coordinator for the Kostroma Region. We are inspired by how she invests her energy and love in her work with Children’s HopeChest!
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, where you live, and your family.
I am from Kostroma, Russia. I have lived here all my life. I am divorced, and I raise a son who is 6 years old.
How did you find out about HopeChest?
In 2001, when I graduated from the University, I was invited to work as a translator in a summer camp. It was a life-changing experience, and I got in the ministry step-by-step. I was a disciple at two orphanages and then, in 2004, I became the Children’s HopeChest Coordinator for Sponsorship and Discipleship Programs. Five years ago I also started working with active youth doing voluntary projects.
What is your role? What is a typical day like?
I coordinate sponsorship programs in seven orphanages that Children’s HopeChest partners with. I oversee the work of six disciplers who work in these seven institutions. I also work with active older orphans who are willing to do volunteer work. In September 2016, I started coordinating Peer-to-Peer Mentorship Project, and I have been working with four mentors and five mentees.
I work at the Ministry Center during all working hours together with all the other staff. Sometimes I go out to do a voluntary project, and when teams of American volunteers come, I work with them as a translator or a staff member to make sure they have great experience in Russia.
What do you like about working for HopeChest?
I like that we are a relationship oriented organization and that we have consistency. We start working with the kids at the orphanages and when they graduate – leave the orphanage, they already know us and trust us. I also share Children’s HopeChest’s vision, and I see that we do make a difference in the lives of orphans through our programs.
Share a story about working with a particular child in the program.
There is a girl, let’s call her Olga, now a young woman, who I met when she was at the orphanage and I was a discipler there. She was very active in Bible classes and would attend church. After the graduation, she was an active participant of the Ministry Center programs. Then left to work in another city and we did not keep in touch for some time. Then Olga got married and after she found out she was pregnant, she came back to Kostroma. Her husband is an orphanage graduate and the situation in the family is rather difficult. She started coming to the Ministry Center and became part of the Young Mother’s program and then Peer-to-Peer Mentorship Project. Because we have known each other since her childhood, she is very open and we talk every day. She shares every single problem or asks questions about the child or family issues. She does not have any adults in her life that could help her with advice or spiritual support. I am very thankful that we can give this support to her and help her be a successful mother and wife.
What do you like to do in your free time, when you are not at work?
I like spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy learning foreign languages and traveling. I go to the gym and like reading.
How has your faith in Jesus grown through working at the Ministry Center?
I have been working in a Christian environment for 16 years now and most of my friends are Christians. I am a blessed member of a family where Orthodox and Western Christians work together to help abandoned children. I have been attending the same church for nine years but every time a group comes and does a talk based on the Bible, I learn new and interesting things. More so, I think it is impossible to work in this field without realizing that God is in control and all comes from Him and all glory in what you do goes to Him.
How have you seen God answer prayer in your life and/or at the Ministry Center?
We have a group of American friends who ask us for prayer requests and pray for certain grads (older orphans). We had a girl who dropped out of a Junior college and moved to a far away village to live with a guy a few years ago. The group prayed for the girl and we kept talking to her. She seemed lost and did not want to study or talk to us about it. But after a year and a half, she decided to go back to school, started communicating with us and is now trying to collect all the documents to get her lodging from the state.
What have you learned since you started working with HopeChest?
I have been learning to be patient with other people, how to love and have mercy instead of judging somebody for what they have done. I have learned a lot of psychological peculiarities of kids and orphaned children in particular.
Learn more about our work in Russia!