There is no more powerful force than knowing that you do not have to go through life alone. Christ exemplified this when he became man, to walk with us and experience life in a human body as we do, empathizing with our joys and our struggles. To follow Christ’s model, Children’s HopeChest’s Ministry Centers in Russia intentionally equip young adults to become leaders in their community, walking with orphaned children and young adults to climb life’s mountains together.
Relationship is the core of HopeChest’s model, and some of our most popular programs in Russia are anchored in the belief that relationships heal. This week we are sharing three programs that ignite hope through friendship and leadership.
1 ) Disciplers
Disciplers are adults who volunteer to visit HopeChest partnered orphanages. They plan character-building exercises, organize fun activities like creating crafts or helping the children to make cards for their American Friends, and teach the children about holidays. The Disciplers also help to connect the North American communities with their partnered community in Russia by writing monthly reports about how the children are doing and what they did during the visit that month.
Possibly, the most important role of the Disciplers is to be a leader, mentor, and friend to the children they visit. The children look up to the Disciplers and look forward to their visits and planned activities.
Anastasia, who visits the children at Ostrovskoye and Makariev Orphanage, has been connected to Children’s HopeChest for many years and recently returned to the position of Discipler after becoming a mother. She loves the time she has building friendships with the children.
She says, “I am honored to be the ‘new’ discipler at Ostrovskoye and Makariev Orphanages. I’d already been a part of Children’s HopeChest’s team from 2001 to 2014 as a Discipler and older orphans’ mentor, but in 2014 I decided to go on a new path and went off to be an interpreter at a large jewelry company. However, my heart was always there, with ‘my people’ from the Ministry Center, so I kept in touch with my friends from HopeChest and some of my kids from different orphanages. I was thrilled to find out they were looking for a discipler to go to Ostrovskoye and Makariev, so I jumped on that opportunity immediately. Now it is my pleasure to return to the work I did for so long and missed so much. I am excited to become a part of this amazing mission yet again and hope to build new special relationships and influence the kids’ lives.”
2 ) Leaders Program
This program is the most successful program at the Kirov Ministry Center, in which the most active orphanage graduates volunteer to visit their former orphanages. The graduates have an opportunity to practice leadership skills and to become mentors for the children going through the same difficult life situation the graduates themselves have gone through. The orphanage children see the graduates as successful role models whom they can trust. Now they believe that after leaving the orphanage life goes on, and anyone can become successful, which boosts their hope and confidence.
“The visit to Spitchino Orphanage was especially important for me as I was able to meet with my younger brother Kirill there. Now that I am a graduate and live in Kirov we don’t see each other. So the time spent with my brother was really precious for both of us. I am grateful for the reunion opportunity!’ Andrey, Leadership Program participant
3 ) Mentorship Program
Mentorship Program helps young adults in difficult situations reach their full potential through supported relationships with an older mentor. This program provides social and emotional support for the mentees, and provides leadership training skills for the mentors.
The mentors mature as they take on responsibility and learn how to care for others. For many mentors, it is fulfilling to provide a source of comfort and encouragement to youth who recently “graduated” from the orphanage and may be feeling lost or unsure about their future.
For mentees, it can be healing to see that someone has overcome familiarly challenging situations. Their mentor is available for them to reach out to at all times and quickly becomes a friend and a safe person to process life with.
“I came to Vladimir from a small town. I didn’t know anything about Vladimir, and I didn’t even know how to get to my tech-school from my dorm. The Ministry Center was the first place I went when I first arrived. I already knew some of the staff, and they made me feel welcome. I met Valera there. He became my mentor and friend. We both like sports and we go to the gym together. We participate in different events at the Ministry Center and volunteer together at the orphanage.” Dennis, mentee
The Disciplers, Leadership Program, and Mentorship Program are just several of the numerous resources provided through HopeChest Russia programs. Learn more about HopeChest’s partnership with Russia, here!