(from the ROOF website- the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund)
An Overview of the Russian Orphanage System
It is difficult to imagine a complex system of different types of institutions operating in the West to take care of hundreds of thousands of unwanted children, where emphasis is on an the individual approach and on cushioning and solving personal tragedy. But we in the west are also very lucky that the general population of most or our home countries is wealthy enough to absorb the social shock that the system receives when children are left without anyone to care for them. In Russia, this is far from being true; at the moment there is simply no alternative to institutional care for the majority of orphaned children. In the long term, ROOF’s main goal is, of course, to work ourselves out of existence. Optimistically, this could take 30 or 40 years-even with an economic upturn. Some older orphanage personnel are now working with their third generation of institutionalised children — social problems run in the family and die hard. But many teachers and directors are completely dedicated to these children who are not their own. And many orphanage directors and staff think that adoption and foster care would be far preferable to institutionalisation. Negative and unhelpful attitudes among staff seem to arise more from feelings of desperation in front of an impossibly difficult situation than from a real belief that this enormous institutional child care system should continue to exist because ‘it’s better for the children.’ For more, click on this: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=about|orphanage%20life
ROOF seeks to work at seven of the many Russian orphanages; two are funded through the end of the year, but five of the efforts had to be discontinued. The orphanage described below is one of these five:
The orphanage in Belskoye-Ustye is a psycho-neurological internat. 120 children live in the internat, which is in the village of Belskoye-Ustye about 20 km from Porkhov, in Pskovskaya Oblast’. ROOF has been working in Belskoye Ustye since 2001. (Click on date for info)
Pictured below: 40 children from Belskoye Ustye Psycho-Neurological Orphanage after the Liturgy, Dec 24, 2006, at St. Nicholas Church, Porkhov, Pskov Province, Russia.On the very left: Fr Sergei Timoshenko, spiritual father and responsible for the Sunday School at the orphanage.
Why is ROOF working in Belskoye-Ustye?
- The orphanage in Belskoye-Ustye is very poor and the premises are in terrible need of brightening. There is barely enough money to purchase food for the children and they live in cold rooms with bare walls.
- The children have very little contact with people from the outside world. The orphanage is in a small village that must not have more than about 200 people and is 20 km from Porkhov, which is the closest small town.
- There are no materials for classes, therefore the children are not working on things that would come easily to them and be good for their development (crafts such as sewing, knitting, carpentry, etc.)
- The planned fate of these children is fairly grim. Coming out of this type of institution young adults are basically sentenced to a life of nothing more than existence: at the age of 18 they are sent to a psycho-neurological home for adults, many of whom are much worse off mentally and/or physically than the children from Belskoye-Ustye. The internat for adults is also a home for the elderly.
- Historically, the local population has not treated the children of the orphanage with care and respect. Many of the locals use the children as labour in their gardens and on their farm plots and pay the children for their work in alcohol and cigarettes.
To read the whole story: http://www.roofnet.org/pages/page.php?ref=projects|orphanages|belskoye%20ustye From any of these pages one can explore the entire ROOF website. I believe it is a fact that the majority of Orthodox Christians in our world are Russian Orthodox. This is the situation for most children with disabilities in their country. The kind of resources listed on the left are not available to them. But there is ROOF, and some others listed in the RESOURCES. But not nearly enough for the need.Perhaps it was not responsible of me to post Grisha’s story first, in light of the great majority who can’t get to where he is because of lack of funds.
But in Christ there is hope, and Grisha’s story demonstrates that lives can be changed and become part of the solution. ( see the previous post: https://armsopenwide.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/grisha-friends/)
reprinted from September 2007