Even in the midst of war, our mission in the city of Zhytomyr remains the same: to love and serve orphaned youth. In a crisis it’s so important for vulnerable teenagers to be encouraged and reassured by adults who care about them. One day this week, several Educational Outreach staff members met with orphaned students for a class about first aid.
Another day, staff member Vasya photographed these rare moments of normalcy with orphaned students. First they went grocery shopping together, then two students baked something special for everyone.
We’ve had many opportunities to meet immediate needs. A young woman we met when she was a student is now the mother of a baby and toddler. She asked for help, so Anya put together a box of necessities, plus a couple of surprises for the kids.
Though our youth and families are in many different places now, our staff is finding creative ways to stay in touch, offer encouragement, and help. This week has been quiet in Zhytomyr (few attacks or air raid sirens). Thank you for praying protection over our city and everyone here.
Shelter Crisis Housing is a home where orphan moms can stay in a true emergency and receive comprehensive help for their families. But how do we know this model is effective?
Eight of the moms who started the Shelter program have completed the steps and accepted all the help we provide. All eight are now in stable housing and able to care for their children. That’s a 100% success rate for those who follow the program.
Donations for the Shelter program lead to:
children at home instead of an orphanage
moms able to provide safe, loving households
healthy family stories replacing generational abuse and neglect
a post-orphanage community founded on God’s love
That’s worth celebrating! In this video, we welcome you to walk through the doors of the Shelter to learn, laugh, play, and heal with our families:
But wait, there’s more!
Orphanage graduates from all Last Bell’s programs benefit from this residential home.
Our Restoration Project crew has breakfast and lunch at the Shelter, along with morning devotions. Sergei (RP foreman) and Anna (Shelter staff) demonstrate a positive model of marriage and child-rearing. The guys sometimes babysit or help residents move in and out. The RP apprenticeship keeps them busy, but the Shelter weaves them into our larger community.
Students in our Educational Outreach program may stay at the Shelter if their trade school dorm is closed for a school break, or between holiday visits with friends or relatives. Orphanage graduates of all ages stay when they’re in Zhytomyr for medical treatment or work on documents. Or they just drop by for a hot meal and conversation!
Orphan moms from Stop the Cycle (Shelter’s umbrella program) wash laundry at the Shelter, take showers, pick up groceries, sit down for meals, and just stop by to visit. Donated clothing, coats, and shoes from American friends, as well as diapers, medication, and vitamins, are stored, sorted, and handed out at the Shelter. Moms and students alike drop by for used clothing. Oksana Pankyeyeva offers counseling and individual consulations at her Shelter office.
So many friends added bricks to this amazing building. Many thanks to the original donors who helped us purchase it; the staff and youth who filled it with laughter and love those first years; the RP crew and other workers who converted it into crisis housing; the staff and volunteers who serve our residents now; and current donors who put sheets on the beds and borscht on the table.
May God bless your own giving and receiving of hospitality this season!