This December, Give for Vika

Dear friend,

When you donate to Last Bell, you help orphanage graduates with education, housing, medical needs, and in other practical ways. But orphanhood is more than material need. Many orphans have experienced unimaginable trauma—and your generosity makes it possible for healing to begin.

Vika’s mother struggled with alcoholism, but her father didn’t drink and treated his children kindly. One day, Vika’s mother fell asleep with a cigarette, and the apartment caught fire. While her parents slept, six-year-old Vika pulled her brother out of the blaze. Then she went back for her father, but he was severely burned. He died in her arms.

Vika was taken into state custody. For two years she stopped speaking. She was passed around different institutions, and finally found Last Bell through our Educational Outreach program.

We’ve begun to meet Vika’s needs, especially her long list of physical and mental health issues. In her 22 years she’s had ten surgeries for different conditions. Once, a bad reaction to anesthesia caused a six-month coma, so she’s terrified of medical procedures. And mental illness makes coping difficult.

We address Vika’s physical well-being by advocating with doctors and going to appointments. But her emotional and mental suffering require long-term, caring relationships. She needs to know she’s safe. During quarantine, Vika’s been staying at a nearly-empty dorm. Again and again, staff members check on her and take walks with her around town.

Over time, Vika is learning that we love her, that God loves her, and that she doesn’t have to struggle alone. This is the healing work that flows from your generosity, to the glory of God.

Will you donate today to help young people like Vika?

With gratitude,

Megan Hershey
Executive Director

What is Last Bell all about? 2020

What is Last Bell Ministries all about? In three minutes, learn about the loving care and practical help our staff offers to orphanage graduates in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. If you want to be part of this exciting work, please consider us in your year-end giving. God bless you and yours this holiday season!

The Pandemic & Katya’s Education

Education is already a challenge for orphan students. The pandemic made it harder. 

The lives of orphan students were totally upended by quarantine: all but about 40 were sent away from Zhytomyr in the spring, often home to families where they’d been mistreated.

It’s distressing that they’re so far away from our care. But we’re mentoring the remaining students more deeply, and stretching to connect personally with each student who was sent away.

Katya said she went into state care because her mother suffered from schizophrenia, and didn’t let Katya out of the house during 8th grade – even for school. She struggled to make friends at the orphanage schools and trade school.

Then, quarantine nearly ended Katya’s education. She moved to a village with her much-older boyfriend and his parents, who all drink heavily. Soon Katya told us she was pregnant.

Staff member Lena talked with her often, and Katya said she was her only friend. When she finally visited Zhytomyr, we consulted with Mission to Ukraine and discovered she wasn’t pregnant after all. Perhaps she was just trying to avoid school, where she felt so alone.

She’d also lost weight, was dressed out of season, and her mask was grimy. So we replaced her worn-out wardrobe and shoes and brought her bedding, a hygiene kit, and groceries. We also coached her through job-hunting, working through her fear of strangers.

Recently we’ve partnered with a new lawyer who will present a case on Katya’s housing situation in court. If she has a place to live, she won’t be dependent on her boyfriend, and she’ll have stability during the next phase of her life.

Katya had tried to quit school many times before. But thanks to an intervention from the school, and the loving support of our staff, she stayed in the dorm for the summer and plans to live in Zhytomyr after graduation, where we can help her. Praise God!

Update on visits to orphans’ homes

What happens when social orphans are sent home?

We were deeply concerned when we heard about orphanages closing due to the pandemic, and children sent back to previously neglectful and abusive homes. These are our future youth! We couldn’t just stand by. Director Andrey organized local church members to visit the children, and they’ve now developed relationships with five families.

Each situation is different. One mom had been disabled by a stroke, and her son struggles with a learning disability. One uncle has active tuberculosis. Some parents drink heavily and neglect the children. One home was filthy with fleas, dust on the food, and a bad smell. But in another, the oldest boy kept house while his mom worked hard for a paltry income.

Volunteers began taking kids to church, and assisted with groceries, notebooks and text books, masks, backpacks, socks and shoes, and registering kids at the public schools. One volunteer traveled to another district for a child’s ID.

Volunteer Andrey, from Central Word of Love church, doesn’t have a car, so he began visiting a family by bicycle. Soon he was taking all the kids for rides – even to church! The home environment isn’t good, but both parents work and are open to help. Two kids were badly behind in mathematics, and Andrey is teaching them the times tables.

One older boy has poor health, with inflamed lymph nodes. When he came to church without socks, Andrey shared, “the attendees… not only noticed, but immediately pulled two pairs of socks over his feet. Somehow they stretched; the socks were for a three-year-old… The words from Scripture come to mind… ‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’”

Our community is rich with service, from you who give and pray in the States, to those who work beside us serving children of all ages. Thank you! Watch for our next email with an update about the effects of the pandemic on our own orphaned young adults.

Many churches volunteer with the local chapter of Young Life, and volunteers helped two adolescent boys attend Young Life camp. One boy decided to follow Jesus. He’s now in trade school in another city, but church members and Young Life friends stay in touch and encourage him.

Stay Up to Date With News, Stories and Events

Last Bell Ministries

Loving and restoring orphanage graduates toward life and community.

Address


PO Box 30671
Indianapolis, IN 46230
info@lastbell.org

Social