Where will orphans live?
When orphans leave orphanages, most of them go to technical schools where they stay in dormitories for 2 – 3 years. Well, that’s not too different from our youth in the U.S. But what happens later, after they’ve graduated from these technical schools? It would be a rare exception for an orphan to get a job after tech school that would actually pay the rent. In fact, I hardly know anyone who has been that lucky. A lot of graduates face the dreaded but inevitable return to their “families”. After all the abuse they suffered there which resulted in them being placed in an orphanage in the first place they return to these same families that, as a rule, continue living the same destructive life styles. But for many it’s the only alternative. Some, those who don’t have anywhere to go, may get very lucky and receive a free apartment from the government. This civil effort began a few years ago and has already provided a lot of young people with free housing. In 2008 the combined contribution of federal and local governments of almost 5 million dollars bought 113 apartments for orphans in the Vladimir region alone (Source: http://www.rg.ru/2009/01/27/siroty.html). In 2010, 97 apartments were given to the Vladimir region orphans by the state (Source: http://www.tatar-inform.ru/news/2011/03/30/263744/). However, impressive as this is, it only helps a small portion of those who need housing. In Vladimir region over 20 thousand people are still on the housing waiting list, many of them are orphans. Free housing alone, however, doesn’t end the problem. Due to a lack of important life skills, many older orphans fall prey to swindlers and become homeless (see the blog entry from June 1). These young people without examples don’t know how to pay the utilities or how to make an apartment a safe home, and often we hear stories of orphans renting their apartments out to allow them not to work, leading to involvement in drugs and crime. That alone makes our Life Skills seminars in Ministry Centers so valuable!
And yet, the story doesn’t end there. Among the young people we work with in Russia there are many who, due to various circumstances, will not receive free apartments and continue to live in horrible conditions. Recently we met with Luda who missed her chance of getting a new flat because of a small bureaucratic mistake and is threatened with eviction from a small dormitory room, filled with mold and humidity. I’m not sure which is worse, to stay or to go!
For so many orphans, housing remains a number one priority in life. That’s why Orphan’s Tree is planning to launch a new program, Homes4Orphans which will help the young people in need with the repairing and furnishing of their apartments and houses, old or new, and teach them to properly care for them and pay their bills. It’s just one more way to show them our love that comes from our Heavenly Father.