5 Years of Stop the Cycle Camps: Results

Earlier in May, we wrote about our youth camps, where Sasha’s life was radically transformed in 2017. Two of our camps in 2018 are for our Educational Outreach youth like Sasha.

And two are for Stop the Cycle, our program for orphan parents, especially moms. Oksana Pankyeyeva, who has been working with our moms since Last Bell’s founding, shared how Stop the Cycle is transforming Last Bell’s young families.

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Our first small, sweet Stop the Cycle camp took place near a river in 2012. That first group, which eventually included 25 moms and 35 kids, took part in five summer camps and innumerable Stop the Cycle meetings over several years. Intense relationship-building at camp planted seeds for year-round mentorship and help.

Our first Stop the Cycle group at their second camp

Of that group, which “graduated” at Stop the Cycle camp in 2016…

  • 12 children were saved from orphanage life when we assisted in extreme crises
  • 20 moms are stable, safely housed, and able to provide for their children with some help
  • 8 moms became Christians
  • 7 moms are leaders or volunteers with Last Bell, including one staff member

Oksana with our moms at “graduation camp” in 2016

New Mom Nastya

Nastya is new to Stop the Cycle. When she became pregnant, her (married) boyfriend abandoned her. He was a biker, and Nastya was part of biker culture. We first connected when we visited her orphanage with the Zhytomyr Biker Club, led by a pastor. She then attended a couple of our meetings.

Nastya at camp in 2017

At camp she was cautious and closed-off. She seemed like a good mom – just very young. (Later we learned that she usually left her daughter with a grandmother.) On the last evening, we played music and showed a slideshow of the week. Oksana saw Nastya off to one side, tears streaming down her face. Oksana asked, “Why all this crying?”

Nastya and her little girl

“All of Lena’s life I hated her,” Nastya said, “and blamed her for all my problems. Only here and now do I understand how much I love her.”

Stop the Cycle camp matters for orphan moms

We don’t see Nastya often (yet!), but we believe something is growing in her heart. Our first Stop the Cycle “class” saw big changes after the fifth camp, when five moms became Christians. Oksana offered four reasons camp is vital:

  1. The moms are removed from their life of problems and difficult situations. They’re in a beautiful environment with good food and lots of love from staff members.
  2. For a week we’re in close contact with them, talking about everything daily & hourly.
  3. Our staff bring their kids, so moms see our own example, the modeling of our families.
  4. They hear good teaching about parenting and God.

Nastya and Lena

“For Nastya,” Oksana said, “It was very important to take her out of her usual environment to see her small daughter. How sweet she is, how much she loves her. To put her life on pause and look at everything from a different angle.”

Thanks to our matching grant, your gift of $115 will send TWO orphanage graduates to camp! Will you help us transform orphan families and break the orphanage cycle?

Kids from our first Stop the Cycle group whose moms have graduated